MICHAEL WHITE FILE PHOTO | One of two signs marking the EPCAL entrance along Route 25.
The state bill to create a plan to fast track development projects at Enterprise Park at Calverton is now law.
The bill, which Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter has called “the single most important piece of economic development legislation for Long Island,” is seen as a key to the future redevelopment of the former Navy-owned property in Calverton, which was given to the town in 1998 for economic development to replace the jobs lost when the Grumman Corporation left the site in 1995.
Since that time, the town has only sold two pieces of the property it acquired, and much of the acreage remains undeveloped.
The fast track bill was signed into law Wednesday night, the last day Governor Andrew Cuomo had to act on it, according to Drew Biondo, a legislative aide to state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), the bill’s sponsor in the state Senate.
Fried Theile (I-Sag Harbor), who represents the South Fork, sponsored the Assembly bill.
Mr. Walter said Mr. Thiele worked tirelessly on getting the bill passed.
“Without him this would not have happened,” Mr. Walter said. “Assemblyman Theile had something to do with every single draft of this legislation and there were probably more than 50 drafts. The residents of the Town of Riverhead owe Fred Thiele a great debt of gratitude.
“And this is a in district from which he can’t get one vote,” Mr. Walter continued. “It’s a true testament of not only working across party lines but across district lines to promote what is good for both the East End and New York State. It’s wonderful that the South Fork has him as a legislator.”
Mr. LaValle called EPCAL “the last major economic development site in Suffolk County. For the town of Riverhead it means tax relief and for all of the East End, it will spur economic development and create jobs.”
The bill was approved by both houses of the legislature in June and was delivered to the governor’s desk on Oct. 11. From there, he had 10 days to either approve it or veto it, excluding Sundays.
However, had he taken no action, the bill would have automatically become law after the 10 day period, which ended Wednesday, officials said.
The bill establishes the EPCAL Reuse and Revitalization Area, a 2,124-acre area for which Riverhead Town will develop an overall generic environmental impact study (GEIS) outlining what can and can’t be built there.
After the GEIS is complete and approved, any fully engineered development proposal for projects within the area covered by the study will be guaranteed approval within 90 days of the application’s filing. If an application isn’t approved in that time frame, it will receive a default approval.
The town must first complete that study before the fast track plan can take effect, but the study has already began and is expected to be done next year sometime, according to Supervisor Sean Walter.
The study, done by VHB Engineering, will cost about $500,000, and includes zoning recommendations, a market study, an environment study and a 50-lot industrial subdivision map for the EPCAL property.
Once the subdivision is approved, town officials hope to be able to sell off smaller parcels of the land and begin to derive revenue off of it.