06/27/14 5:19pm
06/27/2014 5:19 PM
The Costco Wholesale store was packed Thursday, its opening day. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The Costco Wholesale store was packed Thursday, its opening day. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Despite a number of controversies over the past year, the Riverhead Costco store was issued a temporary certificate of occupancy in time to meet its announced June 26 opening date on Thursday.

And it was greeted by large crowds of shoppers. Costco

“We are thrilled to be bringing Costco’s low warehouse prices to the residents of Riverhead,” warehouse manager Jon Jovel said in a press release. “They have been asking us to open here for a long time, and we already have made an impact on the local job market. We look forward to contributing to the community in many ways.”

Town officials had previously said the store would not be issued a CO, allowing it to open to the public, unless it met all of the conditions of a May 15 amended site plan approval issued by the town Planning Board.

The approval required the developer of the site, Brixmor Property Group, to  replace a wooden fence around the property with a chain link fence with privacy slats, and to plant all of the trees buffering neighboring properties that had been previously called for in the earlier approval — and, lastly, to replace trees that have since died.

It also required them to spread out excess sand on the property over a 20-acre portion of the site, resulting in the grade of the land being raised by 3.5 feet over the prior Planning Board approval from the fall of 2012.

Residents in the Foxwood Village development to the north and the Millbrook Community development to the east had complained about the lack of screening between their homes and the shopping center after Brixmor, with Town Board and Planning Board approvals, clearcut the entire 41 acre site, even though the builders only planned to develop a portion of it.

According to Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, the store was issued a temporary CO and not a permanent one because the traffic light, which it shares with another shopping center across the street, had not been fully accepted by the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, and because the developer needed to sprinklers and hydroseed — a type of fast growing grass — on a 20-foot section of lawn around the parking lot.

Mr. Walter said both were being done, and he doesn’t anticipate the store will have any problems getting the permanent CO.

He said all the other requirements of the amended site plan approval have been met.

The Costco site is actually separately owned from the rest of the shopping center, which is called The Shops at Riverhead and is owned by Brixmor. However, another part of the amended site plan allowed the developers to build just the Costco store initially, since they didn’t have any tenants yet for the rest of the project.

Robert Hall, a Foxwood Village resident who has represented the homeowners there at planning meetings on the development for several years, was not happy that the town granted the CO.

“They said that unless they completed everything on the amended site plan, they wouldn’t get a CO,” he said. “I don’t believe they’ve completed everything.”

Although new spruce trees were planted along the border with the Foxwood and Millbrook communities, he said the builders never removed the arborvitae trees that were previously planted. He said he and many other residents agree the trees “look like junk.”

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Caption: Neighbors have complained about these arborvitae shrugs. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)

04/02/13 10:00am
04/02/2013 10:00 AM
COSTCO COURTESY DRAWING

COSTCO COURTESY DRAWING

The Riverhead Town Board is expected to grant a land-clearing permit today to the developers of a Route 58 shopping center that will feature a Costco wholesale store.

The 271,000-square-foot shopping center, called The Shops at Riverhead, would be the third-large shopping center to have begun construction in the past few months on the west end of Route 58. The applicant has said the project will be a “balanced cut and fill,” meaning that it will neither import nor export soil or sand for the project.

The Shops at Riverhead will be built on a 40-acre property that once housed Hazeltine, a defense manufacturer, and is owned by Heritage-Riverhead Retail Developers, which is a Connecticut company.

The developers haven’t identified any other tenants beside Costco, but they did convince the Town Board to change the zoning at the site to allow gas pumps at the Costco store back in early 2010.

The developers of this project agreed in 2012 to move the stores further away from homes in the nearby Foxwood Village development.

Across the street from it, another development called Saber Riverhead has already begun ground clearing for a 122,000-square-foot shopping center just east of Riverhead Raceway. It is slated to include Dick’s Sporting Goods, Christmas Tree Shops store, Buffalo Wild Wings and

a Starbucks store, according to the applicant, Martin Berger.

That project received site plan approval from the town Planning Board in November and permission for an importation/grading permit from the Town Board on Feb. 5. That permit allows for the importation of 200 cubic yards of soils in connection with the project.

The Town Board on March 5 granted an excavation permit to Headriver LLC — which is building a 170,000-square-foot Walmart just west of Applebee’s — that authorizes the importation of 4,615 cubic yard of soil and the exportation of 4,075 cubic yards of soil.

The Riverhead Town Board meeting starts at 2 p.m. Check back at riverheadnewsreview.com for live coverage of the meeting.

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