Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition 
Wading River

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Acres of undeveloped property on Jamesport’s Main Road that were once slated for 42,000 square feet of commercial development are being considered for acquisition by Suffolk County.

The county legislature voted last night to authorize appraisals of the 43.6 acres in Jamesport owned by Robert DiNoto, a Huntington developer who has had discussions with Riverhead Town about building an assisted living facility part of the site.

If the county moves forward with acquisition of the entire site, which is split into two parcels, the front 9.71 acres would be preserved as parkland, and the remaining acreage would be preserved as farmlamd.

The property, locally known as Sharper’s Hill, is surrounded on three sides by already-preserved farmland and contains prime agricultural soil that has been farmed as recently as 2010.

The property also encompasses an ancient Native American burial ground dating back 3,000 years, one of just a handful that have been found on the East End.

“Preserving Sharper’s Hill is not just about keeping Jamesport rural,” said Richard Wines, chairman of the Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission, at the legislature meeting last night. “Sharper’s Hill needs to be celebrated and cherished as an important piece of the island’s history, and we’re really lucky to have a chance today to get it right.”

The property is on the north side of Route 25, just west of Jamesport's hamlet center. Google Maps image.

The property is on the north side of Route 25, just west of Jamesport’s hamlet center. Google Maps image.

Wines was one of a number of local residents who turned out at the legislature meeting last night to offer their support to preserve the property. Many expressed opposition to the 118-bed assisted living facility planned for the front of the property, arguing that it would not only destroy prime farmland but also jeopardize the historic character of Jamesport’s hamlet center.

“This type of commercial development would ruin the rural quality of the hamlet,” said Laura Jens Smith of Laurel. “To allow the suburban sprawl to migrate further east would be a detriment to our economy and our character.”

Phil Barbatos, who owns farmland adjacent to the property, pointed out that soil tests performed as recently as this month have shown that the farmland still contains soil that is prime for farming.

“If it were to be preserved, it would prevent the overdevelopment of Jamesport and preserve precious historic resources,” Barbatos told the legislature. “If developed, it would create more empty storefronts in our community, of which there are a sufficient number already, and create an unacceptable increase in traffic on Route 25.”

Traffic was a common point of concern among speakers, who took issue with commercial development on a property with just one point of access on Route 25 alone.

A 2012 proposal to develop the property included 42,000 square feet of commercial space.

A 2012 proposal to develop the property included 42,000 square feet of commercial space.

Several speakers also urged the legislature to take the site’s historical significance into account and use this as a chance to preserve a known burial ground for the Orient Burial Cult.

“It is the only one left on Long Island,” said Gaynell Stone, executive director of the Suffolk County Archaeological Association. “The new development proposed once again threatens this rare site. The town and county must choose to save this last remaining native site once and for all.”

The county legislature last night authorized appraisals of both parcels.

“Community support is very important,” said a victorious Legislator Al Krupski this morning. “One of the legislators told me that he lives very close to Hauppauge and can’t get even a few people to come for something like this, and a whole busload from the East End came out last night to speak. It’s very important.”

Krupski thanked DiNoto for being open to discussion with the county about acquisition. The legislator noted it is a voluntary program. He also thanked the Town of Riverhead for its willingness to partner with the county on the project; the town would help develop the parkland and maintain it.

Open spaces, quiet hamlets, family farms and leafy neighborhoods are North Fork treasures we cannot afford to take for granted. Riverhead’s rural character and quality of life are being eroded by the spread of excessive development and uses into places where they don’t belong. We believe we can and must protect these precious commodities before they are lost forever.

Our best defense is an engaged and educated public that cares. Please read, think, learn and act!!

Contact RNPC
E-mail RiverheadNPC@optonline.net
Address mail to RNPC, Box  413, Jamesport, NY 11947.   

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There have been two individuals from the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association who put in resumes for the vacancies on both the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Town Planning Board.  To-date there has been no response or acknowledgement from Town Hall.

With regard to the Planning Board, the Town Board is calling for a "farmer" to be the new addition- and yet there sits Dick O'Dea, a local farmer from Herricks Lane.

As usual there was no public notice nor are there any qualifications detailed for the vacancies on these two land use and management boards.

On another note, the vacancy on the Recreation Committee was filled with no public announcement.  While the work of George Gabrielson is not in question, it seems that rather than recycling individuals, we provide an opportunity for all interested and qualified persons to apply.

There are several Town committees that need "new blood".  Unfortunately there is no payment for participation.  Interested individuals may wish to consider the Architectural Review Board {ARB}; the Conservation Advisory Council [CAC] which by the way has not made any new appointments even though the terms of ALL members expired in 2013; and the many others listed below.  In essence there is probably an available seat in each and every one.


Ag Advisory

Anti Bias Task Force [ looking for more members]

Animal Control Advisory Committee

Anti-Litter Advisory Committee

Board of Assessment Review

East Creek Advisory Committee

Farmland Preservation

Handicapped Advisory

Open Space

Senior Citizen Advisory Council

Small Business Advisory Council

Traffic and Safety Committee

Veterans Advisory Committee

Youth Advisory Committee

If you would like to become involved, prepare a letter of interest for the committee of your choice, attach it to your resume, and file one copy with the Town clerk, and copy one to the Supervisor and four to the Town Board members.

You can e-mail, hand deliver, or snail mail it:

Town Clerk: Diane Wilhelm, wilhelm@townofriverheadny.gov

Town Supervisor: Sean Walter, lewis@townofriverheadny.gov
                                                     (Mr. Walter’s deputy, Jill Lewis)

Town Board:       James Wooten, wooten@townofriverheadny.gov

Jodi Giglio, giglio@townofriverheadny.gov

John Dunleavy, dunleavy@townofriverheadny.gov

Tim Hubbard, hubbard@townofriverheadny.gov

Town Hall

200 Howell Avenue

Riverhead, NY  11901


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