A Calverton property owner long been mired in litigation with the Town of Riverhead has introduced a new proposal for his land on Route 25.
Builder Vincent DiCanio said he is now looking to build a 135-unit assisted living facility at his Calverton Manor property across from Splish Splash, where past proposals have included a 120,000-square-foot “big box” shopping center, a YMCA, retail stores, apartments and mi.
“We feel Riverhead would be a perfect space for this,” Mr. DiCanio told the Greater Calverton Civic Association Wednesday. “Why not have assisted living where it could help provide elder care and provide homes for older people who are still functional?”
Calverton Manor includes 35.5 acres on which half the land has been preserved as farmland through transfer of development rights, and a smaller undeveloped 6.4 acre property just north of that.
The current proposal, which would include assisted-living homes and housing for more independent senior citizens, would not be permitted under the current rural corridor zoning, which allows for up to five commercial buildings totaling 52,000-square feet.
Mr. DiCanio said he is proposing his latest project as part of a possible settlement of the ongoing lawsuits. He said the assisted living would be a less intense use and would not impact the school district by bringing school-age children to the area.
The builder said 60 percent of the proposed units would be for active seniors and 40 percent for assisted living.
“Riverhead has adopted a code saying there should be this type of housing in the town and that’s what we’re proposing,” Mr. DiCanio said.
Civic Association president Rex Farr said this is the fourth time Mr. DiCanio has appeared before the association to get input from the community.
“We’ve been very vigilant over the past 20 years about not allowing Route 58 to be extended into Calverton,” Mr. Farr said. “The last thing we need is to have Route 58 going into Wading River.”
Mr. Farr, himself a farmer, said fellow farmers have been looking for land because they’re getting “squeezed out.” The 17 acres on which the development rights have been purchased on Mr. DiCanio’s land can only be used for farming.
Mr. DiCanio said the assisted living use was actually suggested by someone in the audience at one of his previous presentations to the civic association.
“At some point, we have to develop this property,” he said.
Mr. Farr said the civic association will put together a committee to review the project and offer some feedback. There were only about 12 people in attendance Wednesday.
Calverton Manor filed a number of lawsuits against the town in 2004 and 2005 after Riverhead’s master plan update changed the zoning on the property to prevent the “big box” stores originally proposed in 2001.
In 2014, a state Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of the town, but the case is currently being appealed in the state appellate division, according to Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter.
Mr. Walter said Thursday that no formal plan has been submitted for an assisted living project on the Calverton Manor property.
“I don’t know that that is the use we want to see there,” he said. “I’ll bet that lawsuit has cost us a quarter-million dollars.”
A 162-unit assisted living project has been proposed for years on Mill Road north of Home Depot, but doesn’t appear to have Town Board support. The applicant on that project, Ronald DeVito of Concordia Senior Communities, was present at Wednesday’s civic association meeting.
Mr. DiCanio said he and Mr. DeVito have worked together on projects in the past, but are not officially working together on this plan.