Neighbors oppose outdoor expansion at Riverhead Ciderhouse

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RIVERHEAD -

Business has been booming at a cider house in Riverhead, but some neighbors say that its plans to expand are hard to swallow.

Shortly after it opened in March, the Riverhead Ciderhouse became very popular. It serves hard ciders, along with local beers and wine.

But some neighbors complain that the traffic has been "ridiculous," and that the owner is making changes before getting the town's approval, for example, by opening up an outdoor area.

Riverhead resident George Bartenuk wants the town to ensure that the Ciderhouse doesn't expand. "Really it's just a bar," he says. "It doesn't fit there, it doesn't fit the historic, agricultural heritage of Sound Avenue."

Ciderhouse owner John King says he's not trying to bend any rules, but admits he did set up tables and chairs outdoors. "You still have people who smoke, people who want to come outside," he says.

King says his facility -- which sits inside a huge, vacant warehouse that he refurbished -- is extremely popular and has created jobs and revenue for the town.

"It's mostly families," he says. "A lot of people thought we were going to be a discotheque. A lot of people thought we were going to be open late. One night a week, we're open until 9 p.m."

King also says that his business has improved the area. "I think it was the biggest eyesore on Sound Avenue. I think we did a good thing by making it nice," he says.

Town officials say it's simply a matter of the Ciderhouse putting up things that were not part of the original site plan. An amended site plan has been submitted that needs town approval.

A decision is expected within a few weeks.

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