Riverhead rejects microbrewery plans for Sound Avenue

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The former Northville School House on Sound Avenue.

The Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals this week denied an application by McCarthy’s on the Green to run a microbrewery out of the Old Northville School House on Sound Avenue Thursday night.

But it wasn’t clear if the would-be East End brewers were even still interested.

Or maybe they were blowing off steam.

“We have somewhere else we’re looking at, and it’s not in the Town of Riverhead,” applicant George Greene of Wading River said after the meeting,

Mr. Greene and Tim McCarthy of Lake Grove, who own McCarthy’s Pub in Centereach, planned to lease space in the school house from its owner, John Reeve Jr., and build a microbrewery there.

They acknowledged that they would not initially be growing the grain and hops needed to make the beer, but would instead purchase it from elsewhere, possibly from East End farms that grow those ingredients.

During the course of about four public hearing on the proposal, representatives from a number of civic and environmental organizations voiced opposition, saying, among other things, that without growing the ingredients on site, the microbrewery couldn’t constitute an agricultural use and would be akin to a tavern, and that allowing it would set a bad precedent on Sound Avenue.

They also said it failed to meet the stringent criteria for a use permit, which the ZBA can grant to projects that don’t meet zoning requirements, so long as they meet a number of difficult criteria showing why permitted uses for the land wouldn’t work.

The application sought, among other things, a ZBA ruling on whether a microbrewery could be considered agricultural production.

The ZBA decision said they did not feel the proposed use constituted agricultural production, as defined in the town code.

They also rejected the use permit application, stating that “the applicant, based upon the record presented, has failed to demonstrate competent financial evidence the property owner cannot realize a reasonable return for each of the permitted and specially permitted uses in the APZ,” as they must do in order to get a use permit.

The ZBA also rejected their request to convert an existing use that is non-conforming with zoning to another non-conforming use, saying they presented no evidence to show that a non-conforming use legally exists there in the first place.

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