Environmentalists’ EPCAL plan nearly identical to town’s

02/28/2013 12:00 PM |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The southern entrance into the already-developed part of EPCAL, referred to as the industrial core.

A plan released this week by local environmentalists for the redevelopment of Enterprise Park At Calverton is nearly identical to the one that Riverhead Town is presenting to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said.

“It’s very close to our plan,”  Mr. Walter said.

He said that’s a good thing because it’s important to have the environmental community working with the town as it presents its plans to the DEC.

Richard Amper, the executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, called on local environmentalists in November to come up with a plan of their own for EPCAL. Mr. Amper said at the time that Mr. Walter “is launching a one-man war on the environment.”

Mr. Amper and others released their plan this week.

“From what I’ve seen, there does seem to be agreement,” Mr. Amper said.

Mr. Amper worked with Bob DeLuca of the Group for the East End, Geoffrey Freeman, an architect and planner, Tony Coates, a former Business Improvement District member, and Ray Pickersgill, the BID president, to come up with a plan.

His group, led by Mr. Freeman and including members of the business community, did not see the town plan when it put together its proposal, he said.

“They spent three months trying to determine what needed to be preserved as far as endangered species, wetlands and grasslands and they came up with a plan we think the town can work with,” Mr. Amper said.

The town will need to formally submit a plan to the DEC, which Mr. Walter thinks it is close to doing, and after that, the plan will be subject to a scoping hearing, where the public suggests issues that should be studied in an environmental impact study. After that, it must undertake that study.

The study will take about a year before the plan can be approved, he said.

“It’s key for everybody to have input, so this becomes a partnership with everybody,” Mr. Walter said.

While the two maps look identical, the one submitted by Mr. Amper’s group states that 695 acres can be developed at EPCAL, while the town traditionally has said its plan identifies about 600 acres.

Mr. Walter thinks that’s just because the town has access to surveys and computer models of the land in question.

He said that if anything, there’s only about 50 acre difference between the two plans.

“For too long, some have suggested that EPCAL development has been blocked by environmentalists,” Mr. Amper said. “That’s never been true and it’s high time we proved it. Intelligent planning dictates that we identify the areas that must be protected before additional land is developed.”

tgannon@timesreview.com