Betrayed and incensed, residents of the communities surrounding the new Shops at Riverhead, where a Costco will be built on Route 58, turned out to hear about new changes to the site plan.
For months, residents have been crying out against land clearing and a loss of trees at the site, as well as buffering and berm issues, with a protest in recent days.
Vincent Gaudiello of the Raynor Group, the consulting engineer to the Riverhead planning board, filled the board and public in on the new changes to the plan.
The board had convened to review and possibly take action on the site plan, but no action was ultimately taken and the meeting was adjourned.
Gaudiello said the new plan was more specific, with details about the berm and grading.
The latest amended plan, which was received Tuesday, said the berm would have a flat portion on top, be a minimum of eight feet wide and be set at a minimum elevation of 44.
Gaudiello said he believed if the weather holds, planting season would be extended until the end of November; materials to be planted on the berm, including a significant number of plants and trees, are expected, he said.
One reason why additional detail was requested, he said, was to determine where the various ornamental shrubs and other species would be planted on the berm.
Foxwood Village resident Robert Hall said originally he understood that the berm would be 29 feet; he had questions about how all the trees would fit on the berm; he suggested the tallest trees be planted on top help enhance the buffer.
Hall also urged the planning board to keep the fence in mind. "The fence cannot be forgotten," he said.
George Buckingham, manager of the Mill Brook Mobile Home Park, said his community had been ignored; he said residents would "see and hear everything. It's crazy." He raised concerns about lighting on the buildings.
Planning board member Ed Densieski said screening would be planted.
"A retaining wall and a six-foot fence are not going to work," Buckingham said. "We need berm to make this work." He aded that the dust from ongoing work on the development was "ridiculous. We can't even sit in our yards anymore. Why can't they water it down."
Some said while there are water trucks on the property, they are used for mixing cement.
"We lost all the woods," Buckingham added. "It's quite loud. We want a ten-foot-high berm to block the noise. We're not asking for a miracle here."
Hall perused the new plan and said a double row of trees was necessary; he also asked what Foxwood Village residents would see when standing on the street.
Planning director Rick Hanley said the original plan was approved with a six-foot individual effectively blocked; he said he was not sure if the tops of buildings and lights would be screened; Densieski said all lighting would adhere to Dark Skies standards.
"Make the berm bigger and the trees taller," Hall said.
He added that he didn't understand what residents have gained out of the prolonged review process.
"You don't agree it's a better plan?" Densieski asked.
"No," several audience members shouted in unison.
Hall added that the fence was necessary for security; some expressed fears that crime would rise with the homes now unprotected from commercial foot traffic.
"Enough is enough," Steve Stanis said. "You guys are supposed to do something and all you keep doing is jerking us around here."Marilyn Hamilton, who said she has lived in Foxswood Village since 1999, said she has asked for a strong, secure fence "to give us a sense of peace, harmony and safety."
She also blasted the board for allowing the clear cutting of 41 acres of trees, "that was erroneously and thoughtlessly done. Please, gentlemen of the planning board, do the right thing by us," she pleaded.
Alice Hasselback of Foxwood Village said the dust and dirt from ongoing work has become a concern. Other residents agreed the dirt and dust have made it impossible to sit on their patios.
The planning board said code enforcement would be sent out to investigate; the site plan require dust to be mitigated.
Hall asked what can be done.
"A stop work order," a women in the crowd yelled.
"Shut 'em down," someone else yelled.
"You are paid by us. You are here to represent us," Foxwood Village resident Mike Cuomo said. "How were they allowed to clear cut all that property? You are not here to protect the developers. We are here to ask you to advocate for us — be assertive, hold them to the fire. You woke up a community that votes," he said.
He added, "We no longer safe. When the parking lot is full they can jump that stupid fence and come into our community. We have no crime in our community now but I'm sure that will change."
Livid, Cuomo said, "We're not stupid, we're upset — and we vote. And we are watching everything and remember. We are asking you to do your job and advocate for the people."
The meeting was adjourned.
Outside Town Hall, one woman was heard commenting on the meeting. "They screwed us over," she said.