Residents attended with a wish list of design suggestions they'd like to see incorporated into the controversial project.
And now, they are hopeful that the ideas will be used to design some new sketches of the proposed project.
Richard Wines, chairman of Riverhead's Landmarks Preservation Commission and a local historian, said after the meeting that the planning board seemed "receptive" to the suggestions and the hope is that the architect will submit new plans to reflect some of the ideas presented.
Wines said master plan zoning says a new project should fit in with, and relate to, the aesthetics of the existing village.
"This development is located adjacent to the Jamesport hamlet historic district -- one of the town's most important and historic areas," he said at the meeting. "The master plan calls explicitly for such compatibility and the zoning is certainly intended to encourage it. So, I want to focus today on some ways that a project on this site might actually be designed to complement, extend and benefit the current commercial core of Jamesport hamlet -- and benefit the community at large."
Wines said there are "major questions" about density, traffic and the "need for any of the stores, offices and bistros proposed."
The Village at Jamesport proposal has sparked controversy in recent months. On August 3, the 'Save Main Road' group against the Riverhead Town Board for what they believe was an "improper" awarding of special use permits regarding the proposed Village at Jamesport development, which would allow for bistros and professional offices.
Two special permit applications were submitted by Jul-Bet Enterprises in 2007 for the project, which would be sited across the street from Cliff's Elbow Room.
Residents are fearful the the project will destroy the bucolic nature and character of the community; Wines said "scale" is a critical concern.
"Everyone in the community feels it is much too big," Wines said. "There are also questions about ownership and the validity of special permits granted by the town. Those issues all need to be addressed, but I want to focus today on how a project might be built here that could fit in and enhance the community."
Wine put forth a list of ideas, which included extending existing shops.
"The master plan states that that development in Jamesport 'should have a continuous and vibrant retail frontage on Main Road,'" Wines said. "Wouldn't it be great if the existing shops could be extended by a few more storefronts to the west along the Main Road, and then wrap around the corner and continue northward along a new cross street?"
Wines also suggested developing a new shopping street perpendicular to Main Road.
Other ideas including making building scale compatible with what exists in the hamlet currently; creating bilding designs with variation; making the new buildings visually compatible; and making "the design appear as if the new area grew organically from the old."
Other issues to be addressed, Wines said, include providing parking for existing shops, minimizing topogrophical changes and leaving the southwest frontage with its natural grade.
Another option on the table, Wines said, is perhaps changing the name of the proposed project. "This is just symbolic, but as I have said repeatedly, calling this the 'Hamlet at Jamesport' or the 'Village at Jamesport' is not respectful of the existing hamlet. Rather, it makes it appear that the intention is to swallow up what we have."
Other names, he said, include James Street, in honor of James Tuthill, who founded the original James' Port.
Meeting with the community to garner input is another possibility, Wines said.
Rick Hanley, Riverhead Town planning director, did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the suggestions.
How would you like to see the Village at Jamesport designed? What elements do you believe are critical to keeping the aesthetic sense of the hamlet intact? Tell us in the comments section.