Densieski says EPCAL plans amount to ‘cricket sanctuary’

02/23/2015 8:00 AM |
Ed Densieski, a former town councilman, spoke against the proposed mixed-use plan for EPCAL. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

Ed Densieski spoke out against the proposed mixed-use plan for EPCAL in August 2014. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

“We were given the property for regional economic development and we have a cricket sanctuary.”

That’s how Riverhead Planning Board member Ed Densieski describes plans drawn out for the the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

On Thursday, Mr. Densieski proposed changes to a proposed subdivision at the former Grumman site that would move industrial lots currently proposed along Route 25 to an area near the runway, and the existing industrial park at EPCAL.

Conversely, he suggested moving land which would be preserved from the grasslands near the runways, to directly along Route 25.

“All along the runway, which is the valuable property, they have proposed as the habitat protection area,” said Mr. Densieski, also a former town councilman.

“I don’t think this makes any sense at all. Having industrial lots next to an industrial core makes sense,” he said.

Town Planning and Building Administrator Jeff Murphree responded that in order to make changes to the subdivision map at this point, the town would have to go back to the state Department of Environmental Conservation for their approval.

The town has been negotiating the subdivision map with the Department of Environmental Conservation for more than a year and is hoping to gain approval this year, officials have said.

The Planning Board will officially be the entity that votes to approve or deny the subdivision map, which currently shows 50 lots, with mostly industrial and commercial uses, although DEC approval is needed too.

“Maybe we should try to understand why the DEC recommended these areas,” Planning Board member Stan Carey said.

“I don’t care what the DEC wants,” Mr. Densieski said. “We’ve already taken 3,000 acres (of buildable area at EPCAL) and reduced it to 400. It’s ridiculous. Let’s capitalize on the little bit we have left.”

The proposed zoning for the site will actually permit 654 acres of development, according to the EPCAL Reuse and Revitalization Plan developed for the town last year.

In an interview Friday, Supervisor Sean Walter said the changes Mr. Densieski seeks are not possible.

“This is a map that was negotiated with the DEC,” he said. “The board acquiesced to DEC’s requests to draw the lines the way they are drawn. We can’t change the outside lines of the map.”

Mr. Walter said the areas along the runway designated for grassland preservation can’t be changed.

“The grasslands along the runway are sacrosanct. There’s nothing we can do about that,” the supervisor said.

Mr. Densieski has also been critical of allowing residential and retail uses at EPCAL.

The proposed zoning for EPCAL allows retail and residential uses in support of the commercial and industrial uses, but not retail on their own.

“Retail is limited to about 200,000 square feet for the whole 600 acres, and the maximum building size is 20,000 square feet,” according to the supervisor.

Mr. Densieski, who had advocated aviation uses at EPCAL when he was on the Town Board, says he is not impressed with the current plan.

“I’ve spent so many years trying to see something positive happen here and a commercial strip on Route 25 isn’t it, and birds and grass next to prime industrial space next to runway does not make sense in my opinion,” he said.

He said if the town needs to go back to the DEC, so be it.

“It’s going to be 5-10 years before anything happens here, so let’s get it right,” he said.

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