07/26/14 3:45pm
07/26/2014 3:45 PM
The land where the Calverton Manor project wanted to build just to the west  of Manor Lane on Route 25 in Calverton. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch photo)

The land where the Calverton Manor project wanted to build just to the west of Manor Lane on Route 25 in Calverton. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch photo)

A decade-old lawsuit challenging Riverhead Town’s 2003 master plan update, which Town Board members had considered settling two years ago, was decided in the town’s favor last week.   (more…)

12/05/12 7:00am
12/05/2012 7:00 AM
Calverton, Riverhead, Splish Splash

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | A lawsuit settlement would pave the way for a mixed-use development on this Route 25 and Manor Road land near Splish Splash in Calverton.

A proposed settlement in a series of seven-year-old lawsuits challenging Riverhead Town’s master plan did not come up for a vote at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, despite a developer’s threat to proceed with litigation if things weren’t settled by that date.

And now it may be too late.

Developer Charles Mancini told the News-Review after Tuesday’s meeting that his group will no longer consider a settlement and will proceed with the lawsuits.

“We’ve spent the better part of four years trying to reach a settlement,” he said. “We’ve tried to do whatever the town wanted us to do, but at every turn, it’s been the same thing, so we’re not going to waste time anymore.”

When asked why the proposed settlement wasn’t on the agenda, Supervisor Sean Walter, who favors the settlement, replied, “There doesn’t appear to be three votes.”

Mr. Walter has expressed concerns that if the town loses the lawsuit, its 2003 master plan and the zoning that resulted from it would be overturned, and the entire process would have to be redone.

Representatives of local civic and environmental organizations have urged the town to reject the settlement and defend its zoning.

The proposed settlement would allow Calverton Manor LLC to develop the property under the zoning criteria that existed before the master plan, with a campus-style complex that would include shops, courtyards and 40 apartments.

The two parcels that total about 41 acres are at the corner of Route 25 and Manor Road in Calverton. Under the settlement, just under half the property would be developed, Mr. Mancini told the Town Board last week, instead of the original plan to build over 35 1/2 acres.

At that public work session last Thursday, the settlement appeared to have four votes, with only Councilman Jim Wooten outwardly opposing it.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said her vote would be contingent on proof that then-town officials were stalling project, which Mr. Mancini and his lawyer had contended.

Sufficient proof was not satisfied as of Tuesday, Ms. Giglio said, adding she needed more time to research claims made by Mr. Mancini and his attorney, John Wagner, last week.

Councilman George Gabrielsen, who has supported the settlement, said he agreed to hold off on the vote out of respect for Ms. Giglio’s request for more time.

That was enough to prevent the issue from coming to a vote Tuesday.

Mr. Mancini and Vincent DiCanio had first proposed a 120,000-square-foot “big box” commercial development on the site in 2001, and then amended that in 2003 to show a smaller, “campus style” development with room for a facility like a YMCA.

But the 2003 master plan and the zoning adopted based on its recommendations changed the zoning on the property to allow less intense commercial development. Calverton Manor then filed a lawsuit challenging the rezoning in 2005.

Calverton Manor has actually filed five lawsuits challenging the town’s master plan and zoning.

Ms. Giglio said she wasn’t concerned about the developer’s threat of withdrawing the settlement because Calverton Manor still hadn’t responded to court papers from several weeks ago. She said she still planned to bring the settlement up for a vote at the next Town Board meeting in two weeks.

But that would be too late, according to Mr. Mancini.

“We always felt we have a pretty strong case,” Mr. Mancini said. “We really think the town made some dramatic errors in the master plan and I think that’s the reason the town had indicated they wanted to try and settle it. But we’ll let the courts decide now.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

11/29/12 9:25am
11/29/2012 9:25 AM

 

Calverton Manor, Riverhead Town, Calverton, Splish Splash, mixed-use

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead Town Board members speak with Calverton Manor LLC co-owner Charles Mancini (right) and a lawyer for the group Thursday.

The Riverhead Town Board on Thursday struck a second deal with IAA — an auto auction company storing storm-damaged cars on town land at EPCAL — to store more cars at the Calverton property.

The cars will be stored on about 40 acres of town-owned land on the runway at the Calverton Enteprise Park currently used by Sky Dive Long Island for a maximum four months. The town will receive $680,000 in return. In the meantime Sky Dive would stop using the runway.

“I think it was originally $680,000 based on 50 acres, but it looks like the area is actually closer to 40 acres,” Supervisor Sean Walter said after the work session. “We’re consenting for a one-time [payment] to consent for Sky Dive to lease the property for four months max.”

He said he didn’t expect the $680,000 figure to change, even with the earlier confusion on acreage.

The deal beween Sky Dive and IAA was described as private and was not disclosed.

Through another discussion, four of the five Town Board members said they would be in favor of voting to settle a lawsuit with developers looking to build a mixed-use project across the road from Splish Splash in Calverton, on 41 acres of land, called Calverton Manor.

One of the two Calverton Manor LLC owners, developer Charles Mancini, and an attorney for Calverton Manor were present for the public discussion, as were the town’s outside attorneys — though Mr. Walter stressed the attorneys could not give legal advice publicly.

Half the land would be built upon under the agreement, as opposed to the original application that called for an almost 100 percent buildout.

The proposed complex would consist of 40 apartments and campus-style shops and courtyards, Mr. Mancini told the board.

The board took a break about 10:30 a.m. and returned to discuss the Peconic YMCA group now eyeing school district land instead of a parcel off Route 25  the town was set to give the Y, at the EPCAL site.

Mr. Walter said he was “shocked” to learn Friday the Y didn’t want to work with the town on the EPCAL site.

He also lamenting having spent time and money trying to work out an agreement with the Y, only to have the group turn its backs on the plan.

“It’s a little disheartening,” he said in an interview, adding he had expected the town and YMCA to enter a lease agreement as soon as the end of this year.

The Town Board also discussed a pending request for proposals (RFP) involving work at the now town-owned Riverhead Armory, among other items.

Click the blog box below to see details on what happened.

11/16/12 3:30pm
11/16/2012 3:30 PM
Calverton, Riverhead, Splish Splash

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | A lawsuit settlement would pave the way for a mixed-use development on this Route 25 and Manor Road land near Splish Splash in Calverton.

The Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition and the Greater Calverton Civic Association have taken the position that the Riverhead Town Board should not agree to a proposed settlement with Calverton Manor, LLC that would result in reverting to zoning that contradicts recommendations of Riverhead’s 2003 master plan.

The master plan recommends the adoption of “rural corridor (RLC)” zoning along Route 25 east of Fresh Pond Avenue that would “reduce future expectations of development and market potential for retail and service uses along the [Route 25] corridor.”

RLC zoning that was subsequently adopted by the Riverhead Town Board provides for a “limited range of roadside shops and services that are compatible with the agricultural and rural setting along major arterial roads, such as … Route 25.” The proposed stipulation for settlement with Calverton Manor, LLC provides for reverting to prior Business Center (BC) zoning, which provides for development of much greater density and intensity than what is recommended in the town’s master plan.

The proposed settlement would allow for a footprint of up to 100,000 square feet for buildings and up to 40 “dwellings units.”

The North Fork Environmental Council supports the position taken by the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition and the Calverton Civic Association. It is the opinion of the NFEC that an agreement by the Riverhead Town Board to the proposed stipulation would significantly alter the rural character of the Route 25 corridor in Calverton and would undermine the integrity of the town’s master plan and the zoning that was subsequently adopted to conform with the master plan.

It is the position of Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter that the current RLC zoning is too restrictive and that the type of development proposed by Calverton Manor, LLC will increase the town’s tax base.

Mr. Walter is also of the opinion that if the town does not agree to the proposed settlement that the entire comprehensive master plan could be in jeopardy and may require a complete update. The North Fork Environmental Council disagrees.

Increasing the tax base in this manner also brings a great deal of cost in terms of supporting infrastructure and services — police, fire, etc. Such development in the name of increasing the tax base has been proved to increase property owners’ tax burdens, not decrease them, in every town to the west. In addition, such a change in zoning goes against both the word and the spirit of the master plan. It’s not perfect but its protections have well served the people of Riverhead. Any significant changes should not be undertaken without exhaustive research and discussion among all parties.

Because Mr. Walter has accepted significant amounts of campaign contributions from the principals of the Calverton Manor proposal, the NFEC recommends that, in order for the Riverhead Town Board to reach an objective and unbiased decision with respect to this matter, Mr. Walter should remove himself from any further deliberation or decision of the proposed settlement. Furthermore, the Riverhead Town Board should request from the town attorney’s office relevant case law that would help them reach a fair and deliberate decision.

Mr. Toedter is president of the North Fork Environmental Council, a Mattituck-based environmental advocacy group.

10/26/12 8:05am
10/26/2012 8:05 AM
Calverton, Riverhead, Splish Splash

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A lawsuit settlement would pave the way for a mixed-use development on this Route 25 and Manor Road land near Splish Splash in Calverton.

Riverhead Town is once again considering a proposed settlement to a lawsuit challenging the town’s 2003 master plan update that would essentially grant certain approvals to the developers behind a mixed-use development in Calverton.

But while the head of the Greater Calverton Civic Association says his organization opposes the settlement, insisting the town should defend its master plan, the 2005 challenge by Calverton Manor LLC asks the court to “void” the master plan in its entirety.

If the case proceeds and the court ruling goes against the town, the entire plan — and all the zoning adopted based on that plan — could have to be redone.

Calverton Manor, headed by developers Vincent DiCanio and Charles Mancini, sued after the town rezoned 35 acres the group owns on the northwest corner of Route 25 and Manor Road in Calverton, across from Splish Splash.

Prior to the zone change, Calverton Manor had proposed a 120,000-square-foot “big box” retail development for the property.

Since the lawsuit was filed, Calverton Manor has pitched several settlement offers, including building proposals for an assisted living center, a YMCA, affordable housing and stores.

A revised settlement, which would allow the property to be developed under its pre-Master Plan zoning, was discussed in January but wasn’t adopted by the Town Board after Supervisor Sean Walter opposed it. A new settlement offer, which also allows the property to be developed under previous zoning, was discussed briefly at last Thursday’s town Planning Board meeting.

The settlement would confine all proposed development to the 20 acres of Calverton Manor property that were previously zoned Business Country Rural, and that land would be developed under the old criteria of that zone as well, which permits more development that the post-Master Plan version of the same zone.

Another 14.75 acres to the north is zoned Agricultural Protection Zone and would remain preserved as open space under the settlement.

The settlement would allow for five or six buildings, none larger than 35,000 square feet, with a combined footprint of no more that 100,000 square feet and a combined gross floor area of no more than 155,000 square feet, officials said.

A maximum of 40 apartments would be permitted in the mixed-use development, which would include commercial and residential uses.

A stipulation from an earlier settlement proposal requiring a certain percentage of the homes be kept affordable has been removed, officials said.

To date, the court has made no decision on the case, and the Town Board has made no formal decision on the settlement or the application.

“This proposed settlement preserves a huge portion of the property in the back and leaves it on the tax rolls,” Mr. Walter said this week.

But Rex Farr, president of the Greater Calverton Civic Association, said his civic members believe the town should continue with the litigation.

“Our position from day one is that the town should continue to fight the lawsuit,” Mr. Farr said. “Until the challenge is followed through, you never know what will happen. It’s frustrating as a community when the Town Board chooses not to defend its zoning.”

“Whenever we can settle costly litigation, it’s probably good thing,” said Councilman Jim Wooten, adding that the Town Board last discussed the Calverton Manor settlement a long time ago.

“I don’t want to see Route 58 encroaching west, but this proposal has some retail, offices and was not as intense a development as it previously could have been,” he said. “Plus the land in the back would donated to town for open space. It’s a give and take.”

The Town Board will have to sign off on the terms of the settlement before the application can go back to the Planning Board for approval, Mr. Walter said.

tgannon@timesreview.com