Builders rally for Riverhead Town in its fight against DEC regs

03/28/2011 5:49 PM |

The New York State Builders Association is backing Riverhead Town in its lawsuit against what the town asserts are new state restrictions on protecting endangered and threatened species on potentially developable land.

The trade group, at the request of the Long Island Builders Institute, is preparing a “friend of the court” brief to be submitted in support of the town’s suit concerning the impact of the new regulations.

The town filed the lawsuit earlier this year, protesting new amendments to Part 182 of the state environmental conservation law that were enacted Nov. 3, 2010.

The town claims the amendments were enacted illegally.

“The amendments to Part 182 will cost New York State taxpayers, residents, business owners and developers millions of dollars and render large areas of property undevelopable,” said builders association CEO Mitchell Pally in a press release.

The group, like Riverhead Town, believes that under the new regulations, if an endangered species was found on a specific parcel of land, the developer would have to mitigate any potential impacts to the listed species, and says that in many cases, this could involve providing buffers to protect the species in question. The new regulation also requires that the developer obtain an “incidental take permit.”

In order to get that permit, officials say, a landowner must prepare a mitigation plan that shows a “net conservation benefit” to the affected listed species. A net conservation benefit means that a landowner or developer must show how the proposed activity will provide the species with a better habitat than existed prior to the activity.

The landowner also has to provide monitoring of compliance forever and has to enter into an implementation agreement with the DEC, which would require the posting of bonds and/or escrow deposits in perpetuity, builders association officials said.

In comments posted on its website prior to the implementation of the new regulations, the DEC claims the new regulations merely clarify existing ones, and will not impose a new regulatory burden on developers because a permit is already needed for work that might disturb endangered species.

“[Long Island Builders Institute, New York State Builders Association] and the Town of Riverhead believe the costs of these new regulations would be staggering and will render just about any parcel of land that a listed species lives in or lands on undevelopable,” the builders association press release reads.

The town’s lawsuit claims the new amendments are not legal because “it is not permissible for the DEC to introduce a completely new set of regulations requiring new permits, monitoring, and bonds under the auspices of just ‘clarifying existing regulations.’ ”

The town also claims the amendments were enacted without a required public hearing.

The DEC had a written comment period for the amendments that ran from Aug. 4 to Sept. 20, 2010.

“The Long Island Builders Institute fully supports the importance of protecting endangered and threatened species of fish and wildlife,” Mr. Pally said. “However, an equitable balance is needed between the need to protect endangered species and the need to create desperately needed jobs and housing for all residents of Long Island and New York State.”

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3 Comment

  • Well,well! the taxpayers have to pay for yet another lawsuit by the town to benefit developers.The reclamation of downtown has been stalled for too many years by the owners of those properties waiting to get their price. In the meantime Rte 58 is choked by BIG BOX stores and additional development there is sure to come. Has anyone in the Riverhead Town Council ever given serious thought to encouraging a high tech industry to come to downtown? The possibilities are endless. Why keep looking at downtown as only a mecca for tourists with concentration on restaurants,
    ( hotels , aquariums with big tax abatement’s) and very little to contribute to the town’s tax base. Developers only want to build enormous projects on pristine land. Can’t the town council and the big players in downtown real estate come to an amicable solution, demolition of some of the non rent able and non useable buildings as an offering for industry to consider as prime space? Is greed the only factor in defeating a rebirth of our downtown? Me thinks so.

  • What’s the upside of development? None, just higher taxes and lost open space. There are stores on Route 58 that don’t even support the local community and many don’t have to pay local taxes for 20 years.

    There are risks in every endeavor and the risks of owning undeveloped land on an overdeveloped island should be great. The less the supply the greater the potential reward, developers know this equation well. What’s disappointing is the lack of imagination of our town leaders to see the benefits open spaces will bring to our community for years to come. Once land is developed it’s gone forever. What hasn’t been developed should be saved. We need the land to replenish the aquifer and yes for the wildlife we share the island with.

  • And_99
    When are “elected leaders?” going to wake up? Probably never,because they don’t have to. Example: Dunleavy, an ex cop is in Florida for the winter. He is a part time resident. Granted, he is here for most meetings, but does he really live in Riverhead? Another example of the non resident elected council member. Where do you establish a legal residence and where do you pay taxes?
    It’s great for an an elected “official” to represent a Town as a part time resident, perhaps we should demand a law to pay them only for the time they devote to their Council jobs only when
    they are at Council meetings or other tasks which require their presence. John is not the only politician to take advantage of the “SYSTEM”. It’s there for the taking. So why not? Some how, this has to change. This is not a crusade against John. It merely questions the real time concerns of those we elect to represent us.