After opening a farm stand in Calverton earlier this year, the owners of Lavender by the Bay appeared before the Riverhead Town Planning Board Thursday to seek formal site plan approval.
The owners, Susan and Serge Rozenbaum, run a successful 17-acre farm in East Marion where they grow several varieties of French and English lavender.
In June, they began operating a farm stand near the intersection of Middle Country Road and Manor Lane in Calverton. They have planted additional lavender on 15 acres on the property, according to Lavender by the Bay vice president Chanan Rozenbaum.
The town initially issued a violation, requiring them to seek a farm stand permit, but then allowed the stand to continue operating in the interim.
The applicants are hoping to legalize two 8-by-40 foot cargo containers, a 30-by-40 foot retractable canopy and an asphalt parking area. They plan on selling fresh lavender and lavender-derived products such as oil and body products.
The owners have said that a second location would help mitigate the number of tourists who travel east to visit their East Marion farm. The influx of visitors has sparked outcry from local residents, who blame the farm for road congestion in the hamlet for four to six weeks each summer.
Some members of the planning board fear traffic could become an issue at the Calverton site, too.
Planning Board Chair Stanley Carey asked about their success in East Marion with traffic concerns in mind.
“The traffic is a concern for me. If 1,000 people turned out on a Saturday or Sunday on a hot summer day, with Splish Splash…”
“It’s a concern for us too,” said Serge Rozenbaum.
Their current proposal plans 68 parking spaces, including four handicapped-accessible spaces. According to town planning aide Greg Bergman, farm stands do not have specific parking requirements defined in the code. Based on other requirements for businesses, one parking space would be required for every 300 square feet, he said.
The total area of both storage containers and canopy is about 1,800 square feet.
“They’re well over the parking requirements,” Mr. Bergman noted.
The Calverton fields will take two to three years to mature and bloom, said Chanan Rozenbaum. “That’s when people want to visit,” he said.
Mr. Carey’s top concern was the possibility of the parking lot filling up and visitors parking on the shoulder of Manor Road to visit the farm.
“We have something unique. It’s a big attraction,” said Serge Rozenbaum. “People like to come to the field, take selfies, take pictures and just hang out. That’s the reason why we’re projecting a big parking lot,” he said.
Mr. Bergman asked if street parking is ever an issue in East Marion.
According to the applicant’s attorney, Patricia Moore, Southold Town has taken measures to mitigate street parking. “The town actually monitors that and the police are there” controlling traffic, she said.
Chanan Rozenbaum added that they cut back on their lavender fields to accommodate for additional parking.
“We have an overflow lot [in Calverton], which is something we can potentially utilize if need be,” he said.
Board members also expressed concern over the number of portable lavatories that would be placed on the property, although it’s not a site plan condition. Current plans show two.
“In July, you’re gonna need more,” said Planning vice chair Ed Densieski.
The application has also been referred to the Riverhead Agricultural Advisory Committee, who must comment before the planning board votes on the proposal.
Photo caption: Lavender By the Bay’s Calverton outpost. (Tara Smith Photo)