The Riverhead Town Planning Board postponed voting on the controversial Jedediah Hawkins Inn breezeway proposal Thursday, as only three board members were present, and board chairman Richard O’Dea said he wanted to wait until they had a full board at their next meeting on Dec. 1.
The owners of the historic Hawkins Inn submitted a site plan to build a 150-foot long, open-air breezeway that would connect the Luce Hawkins Restaurant to an old barn in the rear of the property.
The Planning Board had originally intended to vote on the issue Thursday.
Critics, such as members of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition and the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association, say the breezeway is a way to circumvent the town’s zoning, and enable more uses on the property.
The arguments made against the proposal Thursday were similar to those made at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, where several speakers criticized the town’s definition of breezeway, which says that by connecting two buildings with a breezeway, the two buildings are then considered one building.
One building would allow the Inn more space for rooms.
Pam Hunt, the general manager at the Hawkins Inn, said they plan to build eight guest rooms in the barn. She says this is needed for the Inn, which has a restaurant and six rooms in the main building, to stay in business.
But Phil Barbato said that to submit a breezeway application now and an application for guest rooms later would be a segmented review, which is not allowed under state environmental review laws. He also said he thinks the property owners are working toward turning the place into catering hall, although Ms. Hunt insisted they do not plan catering or outdoor uses.
She said there would be no dining area in the barn.
“Nowhere on earth this would be called a breezeway,” said Dominique Mendez, president of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, which seeks to unify the town’s different civic voices.
At Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, Supervisor Sean Walter and councilmen George Gabrielsen and John Dunleavy said they had not heard any opposition to the breezeway plan, other than the people who were at the Town Board meeting.
The Dec. 1 Planning Board meeting starts at 7 p.m.