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Dec 2, 2009 2:56 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Residents are interested in proposed sewer district for Flanders and Riverside

Dec 2, 2009 2:56 PM

Enticed by new commercial development possibilities and potentially lower taxes, some residents of Riverside and Flanders say they are open to the idea of creating a sewer district in their hamlets.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman of Montauk said he intends to introduce a resolution in the County Legislature early next year that would allocate $50,000 to finance a study that would examine the pros and cons of building a sewage treatment plant at the Suffolk County Center in Riverside. Certain stretches along Flanders Road, as well as other areas in Riverside and Flanders, would then be able to hook up to the treatment plant, creating the sewer district, he said.

The County Center is currently connected with the Riverhead Sewer District, which is confined between the south side of Main Street and the north side of Route 58. The sewer district also runs between Tanger Outlet Centers to the west and the intersection of Oliver Street and Northville Turnpike to the east.

The benefits of a new sewage treatment facility would be two-fold, according to Mr. Schneiderman. The plant would free up space in the Riverhead Sewer District, which is currently operating at near capacity, and it would allow future Riverside and Flanders businesses to link to a new sewage district.

As of earlier this week, it was not clear how much it would cost to build the sewage treatment plant and create a sewer district.

Mr. Schneiderman’s study, which he plans to introduce in either January or February, would cost around $50,000 and it will attempt to pinpoint the cost of constructing a new sewage treatment plant and accompanying sewer district. The study would also examine how both projects would impact taxes.

Many residents of Flanders and Riverside have been calling for more commercial development in their hamlets to ease the tax burden of residents. Property owners in both hamlets benefit from payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs, that are awarded by Southampton Town because a lot of land has been preserved in Riverside and Flanders and, as a result, removed from the tax rolls.

The proposed sewage treatment plant and accompanying sewer district would encourage “development along [Route] 24 and other key areas,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

“You would get intensified development in places that are sewered,” he told residents attending last month’s Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association meeting.

Mr. Schneiderman said Monday that he will model his resolution to fund a study after a resolution introduced by fellow Legislator Ed Romaine. That bill dealt with allocating $50,000 to study the pros and cons of installing a sewer district in Center Moriches.

Most of those attending the most recent Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association meeting, held on November 23, said they would be open to the idea of the county building a sewer district.

“The commercial property is idle and vacant in Riverside,” said Brad Bender, the president of the association. “A sewer district would ease the burden of school taxes.”

Residents in the confines of a sewer district would be taxed to pay for the operation of the treatment plant and other costs associated with the facility. However, new businesses that would link up with the sewer district, especially restaurants, would offset that increased bill, Mr. Schneiderman said.

“Taxes should go down overall,” he said when reached on Monday.

New businesses could be successful in Riverside and Flanders because more people are driving through the area while traveling between Manhattan and the Hamptons, Mr. Schneiderman said.

“They have enough traffic, they are just not stopping,” he said.

The Riverhead Sewer District was built in 1937 as a public works project and has had multiple upgrades, the latest occurring in 2000. The sewage treatment center is located next to the Indian Island Country Club, off County Route 105 in Riverhead.

The sewer district is nearing capacity and, as a result, can only take on additional connections from businesses that are located within the district’s boundaries, explained Michael Reichel, the superintendant of the Riverhead Sewer District. Waste from the County Center in Riverside accounts for about 25 percent of capacity at the treatment plant.

The construction of a new sewage treatment plant at the County Center would divert that waste away from downtown Riverhead, allowing more development there. Many stores on Main Street in Riverhead are vacant.

“It could be so alive and exciting,” Mr. Schneiderman said of downtown Riverhead. “Every time I go there, it’s like ‘Oh my God, this place has so much potential. There’s got to be a way to bring it back.’”

At last month’s meeting, residents also discussed other ways to entice development in Riverside, Flanders and Northampton, where much of the land is preserved and undeveloped. Those projects included re-zoning Flanders Road and the old Raymond Buick Pontiac dealership property on County Route 104.

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Can anyone tell me if the proposed sewer district would allow certain homes to tap into the sewer? Some of the homes near the Peconic Bay have cesspool problems especially during extremely high tides, such as a noreaster. I think many neighborhoods close to the water would benefit from from a sewer system.
By Mom of 2 (12), flanders on Dec 2, 09 8:17 PM
hello increased taxes!
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Dec 3, 09 9:04 PM
Sewers are a big infrastructure project. Thats digging up streets and building a treatment facility that complies to all enviornmental regulations. there will be a sewer district created to charge those for this "public benefit" to pay for the project.
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Dec 6, 09 9:06 AM
Now we're talking! Needed this for ages!
By Frank Wheeler (1825), Northampton on Dec 5, 09 8:28 PM