Fresh and Co. began building greenhouse without site plan approval

The Southold Town Planning Board upheld a stop work order issued against a Manhattan-based restaurant chain’s construction of a greenhouse in Orient. The greenhouse is on the same property as the controversial agricultural barn proposed by Fresh & Co.

The greenhouse is a separate application from the agricultural building and would be used to keep animals warm during the winter months since the structure originally proposed has been going through the site plan process for about two years. The proposed greenhouse is 1,440 square feet and would later be used for growing plants, according to Patricia Moore, the attorney representing the applicant.

Town Code Enforcement issued the stop work order last week because the cement had been poured and framing had been established before receiving site plan approval. It was the second set of violations for continuing to work after the stop work order was issued, Town attorney Bill Duffy said.

The applicant, Steve Tenedios, submitted a request in writing to be able to complete the structure, however the board said the structure cannot get a building permit without a Department of Environmental Conservation permit first.

“Our hands are tied,” planning board chairman Donald Wilcenski said at Monday’s meeting. “We try to promote agriculture and we understand the hardship.”

Ms. Moore disagreed with the sentiment and said the town code is “anti-farming.”

Ms. Moore said she submitted a DEC request more than 30 days ago and they started construction before it was permitted because her client was “against a wall” due to weather constraints. If they didn’t pour the footing then, it wouldn’t have been possible, she said.

“My only reason for asking is if we were to get the DEC in hand, and with your authorization, to just put the panels up,” Ms. Moore said, adding that they would still go through the public hearing process and complete drainage requirements. “But at least we could put the panels up so the animals could be protected.”

Ms. Moore said that one goat and four kids belonging to Mr. Tenedios died last winter. The applicant has one cow and 30 goats, 18 of which are pregnant and due around mid-January, according to Ms. Moore’s letter submitted to the planning board. One of his three horses is also pregnant, and the foal, due in February, will need warmth from the greenhouse.

Mr. Wilcenski said that after the public hearing, the board would send a letter of support to the DEC, but refused to lift the stop work order before the site plan is reviewed.

The application was considered complete for review and a public hearing was set for Jan. 14.

The proposal that has largely been the topic of discussion to this point has been the Tenedios Agricultural Building, a proposed 8,664-square-foot building to house livestock and store feed, supplies and farm equipment on 34.5 acres of farmland adjacent to Narrow River Road.

At past public hearings, residents have raised concerns such as scenic impact, wetlands and surface water protection from animal waste and the possibility of special events at the location. Public hearings on the proposal were closed earlier this year. In August, the Architectural Review Committee and the Land Preservation Committee recommended that the Planning Board require the structure be moved 200 feet to the west and the applicant complied. The revised site plan was before the Planning Board in October.

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Photo caption: The planning board discussed the application Monday. (Rachel Siford photo)

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