Residents opposed to a controversial Jamesport development are hoping for an aesthetic end result that mirrors the existing community.
Members of the 'Save Main Road' civic group are headed to a Riverhead Town planning board meeting on Thursday, where they say possible ways to ensure the controversial Village at Jamesport development is in visual keeping with the rest of the community are to be discussed.
Georgette Keller, president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association and founder of the Save Main Road group, said she spoke with Riverhead planning director Rick Hanley, who said the developer of the Village at Jamesport project had asked the designer to attend Thursday's planning board session.
Keller said "Save Main Road" members are hoping the designer will come up with some sketch plan alternatives and options that would take residents' input, garnered at public hearings on the proposal, as well as findings gleaned from the environmental impact study process, into consideration.
The hope, Keller said, is that the project, which is adjacent to the historic disrict in Jamesport, be developed "in deference" to the aesthetics that already exist.
Richard Wines, chairman of Riverhead's Landmarks Preservation Commission and a local historian, who plans to be present at the meeting, said the town's master plan zoning says a new project should fit in with, and relate to, the aesthetics of the existing village.
To that end, some ideas, Wines said, could include incorporating the access road as a "basic continuation" of the current row of shops and wrapping it around the corner, creating a pedestrian and visually friendly walkway -- a Main Street that stretch through the development.
"Another piece of this would be to make sure the buildings were of a piece," Wines said. "That would mean changing the visual scale, and making some of them appear quite a bit smaller -- a series of smaller, but possibly connected, buldings, rather than a series of buildings that are the maximum size allowed in the area's zoning," he said. Wines said the new buildings do not all have "to be 5000 square feet. Most existing buildings are a tenth, or a quarter, of that. Scale is really important."
Especially the areas of the development that are nearest Main Road, Wines added -- any new construction in that area should mirror the scale of buildings that currently exist.
Other elements to be considered, Wines suggested, are roof slopes and facades, which might be brick, wood, or shingle. "There needs to be a lot of variety," Wines said. "The current proposal has a bunch of buildngs that are all exactly identical. To my mind, that doesn't fit into a place like Jamesport."
Parking, Wines said, should be developed not only for the new project but also made available to businesses currently operating.
And, he said, a proposal to remove approximately 88,000 cubic yards of fill from the site would result in an influx of trucks to the area.
Sharpers Hill, located in back of the proposed development area, is "one of the most important archeological sites on the East End," with Indian remains buried there, Wines said.
While the peak, or brow, of the hill, is not part of the development area, Wines said excavating the fill would "chop away" at the lower part of the hill and the archeological site would need to be boarded up with retaining walls. Wines added that he believes the western section of the property, which faces the road, should be left at its current grade; erecting retaining walls "will destroy the natural look" that currently exists, he said.
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.