Optimism for bill to fast-track EPCAL development

06/12/2013 1:25 PM |
EPCAl in Riverhead, FAA

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | A view of the EPCAL site from the sky.

With just a week left in the current New York State legislative session, an agreement appears to be have been reached on Riverhead Town’s efforts to get state support for a plan that would fast-track development proposals at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, according to Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter.

One major change in the proposed legislation would eliminate the creation of a commission comprising town, county and state representatives to review applications. Instead, the entire process would be left up to the Riverhead Town Board, Mr. Walter said.

The proposed state legislation still needs to be approved by the local government committees in both the state Senate and Assembly, then it needs to be approved by the full membership of both houses.

The Town Board also needs to approve a home rule message, which is scheduled for a vote at a special meeting on Thursday, Mr. Walter said. A home rule message means a locally affected government supports proposed state legislation.

The state Legislature’s current session is scheduled to end next Thursday, June 20, officials said.

“I’m shocked and amazed,” Mr. Walter, who has helped lobby in Albany for EPCAL legislation, said of the news Wednesday evening. “I’m so happy.”

He said he got word of the deal about 6 p.m. Tuesday, noting that numerous changes had been made to the proposed bill in the past two weeks.

The state Senate approved an EPCAL bill last year, but the Assembly never voted it out of committee.

Mr. Walter said the chairman of the Assembly’s committee on local government, Assemblyman William Magnarelli (D-Syracuse) supports the current version of the bill.

The bill’s wording now requires the town to create an overall zoning plan for EPCAL; then, any development applications for the industrial park that conform to that plan would be approved within 90 days. After an application reaches the town, town officials would have 10 days to forward it to agencies that might be involved in the review process, Mr. Walter said.

Drew Biondo, an aide to state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, said the overall plan governing development at EPCAL would be crafted and approved jointly by town, state and county agencies. After the plan is agreed to, subsequent development applications that conform to it would be fast-tracked, under the proposal.

Normally, each individual application would need approvals from state, county and town agencies.

The town would still need to complete its environmental study, subdivision map and revised zoning at EPCAL before the proposed bill could take effect, the supervisor said. That’s all expected to take about a year to complete, he said.

Should the EPCAL bill take effect, Mr. Walter believes the town will need to hire a consultant to run the program.

“There’s no way the town staff can handle large applications in 90 days,” Mr. Walter said.

He hopes to visit upstate Genesee County, which has a successful economic development office that deals largely in marketing and obtaining grants.

tgannon@timesreview.com

2 Comment