Plans For Family Community Life Center To Be Unveiled

A formal presentation on the project will be given Monday at 8 a.m. in Riverhead

A long-held dream for a Family Community Life Center continues to take shape.
The economic development project, which would include creating a community benefit district for Riverhead, has been pitched for years.

After months of discussion, plans, and even a prayer vigil, members of the First Baptist Church of Riverhead turned out in force recently for a town board work session about proposed new zoning that could be used for their Family Community Life Center project.

The facility would be sited on a 12-acre Northville Turnpike site owned by the church.

Advocates say the project will provide jobs, housing, services and educational opportunities which will be available to all the families of the area and will benefit the East End of Long Island for many generations to come.

On Monday, in the Riverhead Culinary Arts Center Building, developer Ron Parr and Alex Badalementi of Baldassano Architecture will provide a formal presentation on the project to a gathering of invited community supporters and stakeholders.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is expected to make a major public announcement at the event, which will take place from 8 until 10 a.m.

The goal, Shirley Coverdale, wife of Rev. Charles Coverdale, said, is to create a destination open to the public for year-round use.

The complex, a 68,830 square foot "community benefit district," would include buildings that would encompass a media center/theater, a 24-hour childcare facility, a senior citizen wellness and day care center, and a sports and recreational compound. In addition, the plan calls for 132 one- and two-bedroom apartment units to frame the center complex, that would be used for workforce housing.

Coverdale said all of the FCLC facilities, including a pool, gymnasium, fitness center and indoor walking track, would be available for year-round use; the Community Benefit District, she said "would answer the many needs of the East End community by creating a hub where families can come together to learn, live, work and play."

In late September, the Riverhead town board discussed a proposed community benefit zoning district; the CBD could be used as an overlay district that would permit the construction of clustered multi-family rental dwelling units that would be workforce housing for young families, professionals and seniors.

The zoning would facilitate development not currently allowed under Riverhead town zoning and would require that all units be dedicated to 100 percent workforce housing.

The proposed legislation states that the minimum area of a parcel would be 10 acres, and would include detached residential dwellings, attached multi-family homes, or single, owner-occupied family apartments above a professional office.

The legislation would also allow the town board to approve a special permit that would increase the allowable dwellings at a rate of one for every transfer of development credit redeemed, with no more than ten units per 40,000 square feet after subtracting land required for infrastructure and public improvements.

To move forward, 90 transfer of development right credits would be needed from Suffolk County; the county would also require that all units be dedicated to workforce housing.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio asked if any buffering would be required. Town Planning Director Rick Hanley explained the legislation would require a "rigorous" 40 percent open space component but said the town could be more specific in the transitional areas.

Referring to the recent public outcry over trees removed on a parcel where Costo will be located on Route 58, as well over a lack of buffering, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said, "We had occasion to tick off some neighbors recently and we don’t want to do that anymore."

Walter suggested a 25 foot buffer be required, abutting residential properties, in the new community benefit district.

Deputy Town Attorney Bill Duffy said the town could require open space between residential properties.

Councilman John Dunleavy reminded that the new CBD must have a global perspective and not be focused on the one project proposed by the First Baptist Church.

"We have to address buffering in this legislation but it can't be site specific to this project," Councilman George Gabrielsen agreed.

Rev. Coverdale said he thought the community benefit district was meant to be solely for his church's project.

"You told us to spend our money to build a community benefit district that could not be repeated. That was our assignment," he said.

"That would be considered spot zoning," Giglio said.

Giglio also said she wanted to be sure the county's 90 TDR credits were coming from properties in the Riverhead area.

The public hearing will be scheduled for Nov. 6 at 2 p.m.

In March, the church's congregation held a prayer vigil for the project.



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