07/11/13 6:33pm
Jodi Giglio and Sean Walter

FILE PHOTO | Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio during a disagreement in 2012.

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio — who is locked in a heated Republican primary for a Town Council nomination — only recently got part of her Baiting Hollow home up to code after several alterations were made over the course of years that improved the property, according to RiverheadLOCAL.com.

The house had an ingr0und swimming pool and other backyard amenities installed in 1999, and later a finished basement and second-story addition, according to a report published Thursday by the online news outlet.

A certificate of occupancy for the pool wasn’t issued until June 20 of this year. A certificate of occupancy for the finished basement was also issued in June of this year, and a CO for the addition is still outstanding, according to the report.

The RiverheadLOCAL story also detailed how Ms. Giglio’s property value had not been reassessed to reflect the work done in the basement or the second-floor addition, though the assessed value of the home was raised after the pool was installed.

“I was stunned that these permits were still open,” Supervisor Sean Walter said in an interview with the News-Review Thursday. “This was an issue in 2009 and I was assured when we ran as a team that this was resolved, and then after we got elected, I found out it wasn’t resolved.

“I spoke to her on multiple occasions about getting it resolved and I was assured by both her and by Republican party leadership that all these issues were resolved on multiple occasions. It’s unfortunate. She’s got to get it resolved immediately. I think elected officials have to be held to a higher standard than what residents are when it comes to things like getting town permits.”

Reached Thursday afternoon, Ms. Giglio said there was “no wrongdoing on my part,” and that she and her husband had been trying to finalize permit issues with the town ever since they tried to refinance the house in 2009.

“Despite what the supervisor alluded to [in the RiverheadLOCAL report], I did not receive any favors,” she said. “We applied for all the permits, and that information is supposed to be automatically transferred over to the assessor’s office.”

She also denied having any conversations about her house with Supervisor Sean Walter, a fellow Republican but political rival.

“That’s a bunch of crock,” she said. “Sean and I had never had a discussion about my house. Not once, ever.”

The first-term councilwoman is being challenged for the Republican nomination by a former Walter adviser, Anthony Coates, who has repeatedly publicly criticized Ms. Giglio.

“It just goes to show the type of character you get, when those resort to mudslinging on personal issues rather than the voting record of the candidate they’re opposing,” Ms. Giglio said. “Because I’ve always been a steward for the taxpayers and watched their money as if it were my own.”

She said her $12,000 a year taxes would likely rise by about $1,000 annually after the property tax assessment is adjusted to reflect the improvements, and she would be willing to repay any back taxes for what she described as an internal oversight.

Ms. Giglio added that she didn’t live in the Baiting Hollow home in 1999, but in Wading River. Her husband’s company, Structural Technologies, owned the property and was renting it to a sales manager at the time.

She said the basement was also finished before she and her husband moved in, and the couple had the addition built in late 2004, months after their twins were born and she was caring for three small children.

“I didn’t even take title to the property or have my name on the deed until 2004,”  she said. “And we’ve been trying to get the permits ever since. My house has been inspected on more than three occasions for the pool and the addition.”

Mr. Coates said he had inquired about the matter himself with the building department about the time of the May 23 Republican Convention and confirmed what he said had been rumors for years about work at the Giglio property and expired permits.

“This is exactly what I’ve been talking about in the campaign,” said Mr. Coates. “There’s an attitude of entitlement and a real disregard for the process that seems to pervade out of elected officials.”

“This really came to a head with the cavalier attitude about the waiving of the building permits for Athens Grill and the Rendezvous,” he said in reference to a recent vote of the Town Board to waive fees for two fire-damaged restaurants downtown, of which Ms. Giglio abstained, saying she believed insurance would cover the fees and wanting to find out out more information.

“It’s a complete double standard for an elected official versus the stand for the public,” he continued. “Anyone who has filed a permit for a deck or pool or a minor repair knows the hoops they have to go through. Jodi Giglio is an expediter. Did she not do her job as an expediter? Or is she not doing her job as a Town Board member? Either way, it’s a real indictment.”

“I feel vindicated that what I’ve been talking about is accurate,” he added. “The town needs a shaking up.”

Republican vice chairman Mason Haas, who is also a town tax assessor and had flirted with the idea of challenging Mr. Walter for the Republican supervisor nod, told the News-Review Thursday that Ms. Giglio’s CO issues are not unique.

“I’m not speaking because I’m vice chair, I’m speaking because it’s wrong to imply anyone is covering anything up,” said Mr. Haas, who was elected assessor in 2007 and started working on residential grievances in 2009, when he said he started to notice flaws in the town’s system of communication between the building department and assessors.

“I was a little shocked at what Sean said about the permit thing,” he said. “I’ve been screaming for two years about the system [in town], because as a businessman who comes from the private sector, the system is broken in the building department.”

“When they issue a permit they’re supposed to forward them to the assessor’s office,” he continued. “It is not uncommon that we don’t get the building permit. What I implemented last year, was that when permits get issued they automatically get emailed. I’m not here to say Jodi’s right or wrong, but what I will say is it’s a very common problem that I’m trying to fix as we go.”

He said the town’s computer systems are too outdated to implement new software and there’s no money for upgrades.

Mr. Haas and other Republican leaders have also been outwardly criticized by Mr. Coates during the Coates campaign, first announced last fall.

“When I met with party leadership and they tried to talk me out of the race,” Mr. Coates said. “I said there were three things they needed to provide to me as a condition of my withdrawal.” Among them were “the permits on Jodi Giglio’s home, which I had heard for years and years didn’t exist. This is a decade, for a woman who was an expediter,” he said.

“I was rejected flatly,” he continued, adding that he looked into the permit matter himself. “I never filed a [Freedom of Information Law request]. I called an inquired about one for her building permits. [Party leaders] knew I was coming and they knew I was serious because I raised the question at the convention. Mason told me they existed. Then June 20, they miraculously show up.

“After 10 years of non-compliance, Jodi decided to finally comply after I rang the warning bell.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

07/06/13 2:30pm
07/06/2013 2:30 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Excavation at the site of a future Costco on Route 58 stretches up to neighboring homes in Foxwood Village.

With developers of four large commercial projects clearing trees from property along Route 58 at the same time, most residents who frequent the busy thoroughfare have taken notice.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter is now proposing that the town develop new regulations for tree clearing.

“I am very unhappy that these shopping centers clear-cut these sites, and I’m a little surprised that the Planning Board let them do it,” Mr. Walter said in an interview. “In the future, hopefully, we will have an ordinance that seeks to preserve trees.”

He’s asked town planning director Rick Hanley to work on creating such an ordinance.

There are three large commercial shopping centers all under construction toward western end of Route 58 (refer to below map).

These sites are for a 170,000-square-foot Walmart (bottom-left), on the north side of Route 58 across from Tanger Outlets, a 122,000-square-foot shopping center, located between Riverhead Raceway and Holiday Inn Express on the south side of Route 58 that will house a Dick’s Sporting Goods and other stores (top-right); and a 271,000-square-foot Shops at Riverhead shopping center, with a Costco anchor store, adjacent to the Riverhead Auto Mall on the north side of Route 58 (top-left). Further east, on the northeast corner of Route 58 and Northville Turnpike, clearing has also taken place recently for a 28,000-square-foot office complex called Northville Commerce Park (bottom-right).

BING MAPS | (Clockwise from upper left) Costco, Saber Riverhead, Walmart, and Northville Commerce Park developments.

BING MAPS

Mr. Walter didn’t have any specific changes in mind, but said, “We’ve got to put some guidance in the code that doesn’t allow them to do this again.”

All the projects were approved by the town Planning Board, with the exception of one that will house a large Walmart, which was the Town Board settlement of a lawsuit.

None of the developers has been cited for violations regarding the clearing.

Planning Board chairman Richard O’Dea said the up-front clearing of all the land at the Costco site was done at the request of the applicant, whose representatives have said they will likely seek to build additional stores on the site in the future, and clearing all the land now would eliminate the need to disturb neighbors twice. The developer also proposed a “cut and fill” process that would neither import nor export material from the site, but would reuse sand on high parts of the land to fill holes and low areas.

Mr. O’Dea said there were representatives from the neighboring Foxwood Village community at the Planning Board discussions on the plan, and board members acknowledged their requests to have the Costco building moved farther away from their homes, and required the developer to move the building. The Planning Board also required a fence along the property line to be built first, so that animals leaving the cleared area wouldn’t scatter to the Foxwood Village properties, he said.

Mr. O’Dea added that he couldn’t recall that the Foxwood Village residents who had attended the meeting raised any objections to the clearing plan itself.

On another Route 58 site, which will include Dick’s Sporting Goods and Christmas Tree Shops, among other stores, the Planning Board had input from the owner and residents of the adjacent Glenwood Village community, and required the applicant to put up a sound barrier as a result of that input, Mr. O’Dea said.

Robert Hall, a Foxwood Village resident who attended many of the meetings for Shops at Riverhead project, acknowledged they hadn’t protested the clearing for the shopping center that vigorously. But, he said, he hadn’t expected the land to look anything like it does now.

“It really is horrible,” he said in an interview. “We got this two-bit little wooden fence that a teenager could break through. Talking about it and looking at plans is one thing, but when the reality comes along, it’s shocking.”

Mr. Hall said he plans to go back to the Planning Board and ask that a sound barrier be built along the property line, much like what is being built along the Glenwood Village property line by the developer there.

Mr. Walter also had harsh woods for the Costco development regarding the tree clearing.

“Costco is not being a good neighbor,” he said. “They should be apologizing to the residents of Foxwoods and they should put new trees up now.”

While it cleared all the trees up front, even on parts of the property it is not currently developing, the Shops at Riverhead/Costco proposal does call for planting new trees to buffer the homes at Foxwood, according to Peter Danowski, the attorney for the applicant.

“You’ve got four big projects going on all at the same time, and everyone sees all this dust flying, but I think everyone will be happy when it’s done and they see the finished product.

“We try to do it quick so the neighbors will be affected for the least amount of time.”

Mr. Danowski said it’s often difficult for developers to leave existing trees on the property because their root systems become intertwined with sewer pipes and septic systems.

tgannon@timesreview.com

06/20/13 2:59pm
06/20/2013 2:59 PM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | An aerial view of Calverton Enterprise Park, looking south.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | An aerial view of Calverton Enterprise Park, looking south.

UPDATE:

The New York State Senate approved a bill today designed to fast-track development proposals at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

The bill was approved in the Assembly in the morning and in the Senate this afternoon.

“We’re firing on all eight cylinders now,” Supervisor Sean Walter said of the approvals. “The marketability of that property has increased 10,000-fold with this vote today. There should be nobody ever comparing this to the vacancies in Hauppauge or Melville, because nobody else in New York State has what we have now.”

The bill, which still needs to be signed by the governor, establishes a generic environmental impact study, or GEIS, at the outset, to cover all possible development proposals that meets a re-use plan agreed upon by the town, county and state.

Any fully engineered development proposal for within the area covered by the study will be guaranteed approval within 90 days of the application being filed.

If an application isn’t approved in that time frame, it will receive a default approval, Mr. Walter said.

“This is the single biggest piece of economic development legislation for Long Island, probably ever,” he said.

The state also passed a law that gives tax exemptions to businesses associated with hi-tech research projects at SUNY campuses, Mr. Walter said.

The 50-acre Stony Brook Business Incubator at EPCAL would fall under that bill, he said.

The town still needs to complete the GEIS , the new zoning and land use plans, and the subdivision at EPCAL before the fast-track proposal can take effect, the supervisor said.

That process, which has already begun, is expected to take about a year to compete.

Today was the last day of the current session for both houses of the state Legislature, which next meets in January.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Riverhead Town’s plan to fast track development at the Enterprise Park at Calverton is going right down to the wire, with the state Assembly slated to vote on the measure today, Thursday, the last day of the current legislative session in Albany.

The state bill would establish the EPCAL Reuse and Revitalization Area, 2,124 acres for which Riverhead Town would develop an overall generic environmental impact study (GEIS) outlining what can and can’t be built there.

“This is probably one of the most monumental pieces of legislation that will hit the East End and, in my opinion, all of New York state,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said Friday. “What this does is, it gives the town a mechanism to have approval of projects at EPCAL in 90 days, and it is going to put EPCAL on the map in a way that nobody else in New York State is on the map.

“It’s been a long time coming,” the supervisor added.

Under the proposal, if a development application is submitted within this area, and its impacts have already been studied by the GEIS, that project would require no further environmental studies and would receive approval within 90 days of submission, provided the application was deemed complete by the town.

Normally, each individual development application would potentially need to conduct a separate environmental study.

Similar legislation passed in the state Senate last year but never made it out of committee in the Assembly. As written at that time, the bill would have created a commission comprising the five Town Board members and one representative each from the state and county. The current version of the bill gives full authority to the Town Board, eliminating the need for a new commission.

As of Wednesday, the revised bill had been moved out of the Senate’s local government committee and was listed on the Senate’s agenda of bills to be voted on Wednesday afternoon, according to Drew Biondo, an aide to state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), the bill’s sponsor in the Senate.

But it was uncertain if the bill would be voted on by the full Senate on Wednesday or Thursday. (See riverheadnewsreview.com for updates.)

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), the bill’s sponsor in the Assembly, said he expected it to be voted on Thursday by the full Assembly.

Officials say they expect the bill to be approved in both houses.

The Town Board on Tuesday also declared itself as the lead agency in the review of its EPCAL reuse plans, which include amending the town master plan and zoning and creating a new 50-lot industrial subdivision at EPCAL.

This vote came after the state Department of Environmental Conservation raised no objection to the town’s taking the lead in the review of those plans.

“This is an amazing thing we’re about to undertake,” Mr. Walter said Tuesday, as the Town Board prepared to vote on the lead agency status.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said Wednesday she thinks this is the most important legislation the town has adopted in more than 10 years.

The board also voted to schedule a public scoping hearing on the draft GEIS for July 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

A scoping hearing allows people to suggest issues they feel should be studied in the GEIS.

On Friday, the Town Board also approved a home rule message, which indicates the board’s local support for the state proposal and was needed before the state Legislature could vote on the measure.

Board members gave Mr. Walter credit for his work on the bill, as he had made numerous trips to Albany to lobby for its passage over the past two years.

The board got the idea after taking a bus trip, complete with media members, to Devens, Mass., in January 2011. That community had worked with officials within the Commonwealth to redevelop a former military base.

The EPCAL property had been owned by the U.S. Navy and was used by the Grumman Corporation to built and test fighter jets until 1996. The land was given to the town in 1998 for economic development purposes to replace the jobs lost when Grumman shut down.

tgannon@timesreview.com

06/14/13 1:48pm
06/14/2013 1:48 PM
Calverton EPCAL sign

MICHAEL WHITE FILE PHOTO | One of two signs marking the EPCAL entrance along Route 25.

Riverhead Town’s plans for developing the Enterprise Park at Calverton took a few steps forward this week, and are expected take a few more steps forward next week.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | An aerial view of the former Grumman property now called the Enterprise Park at Calverton, or EPCAL

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | An aerial view of the former Grumman property now called the Enterprise Park at Calverton, or EPCAL

The Town Board on Friday unanimously approved a “home rule message” resolution in support of a revised version of a bill in Albany that would allow development projects to be “fast-tracked” at EPCAL.

And Supervisor Sean Walter said officials with the state Department of Environmental Conservation are not objecting to the town’s request to be the “lead agency” in the review of a proposed 50-lot subdivision the former Grumman plant property.

Town officials and the DEC have frequently disagreed over development approaches at EPCAL in the past, and who should hold lead agency status, which carries the most weight among all government agencies involved in permitting and approvals.

A “scoping hearing,” at which speakers can suggest issues to be examined in the environmental impact study of the subdivision, is tentatively planned for July 16.

“This is probably one of the most monumental  pieces of legislation that will hit the East End and, in my opinion, all of New York State,” Mr. Walter said in voting for the home rule resolution Friday in Town Hall. “What this does is it gives the town a mechanism to have approval of projects at EPCAL in 90 days, and it is going to put EPCAL on the map in a way that nobody else in New York State is on the map.

“It’s been a long time coming.”

Council members credited Mr. Walter, who has made many trips to Albany to lobby for the bill.

The town also had George Hochbrueckner, a former congressman and state assemblyman, working on the case this year to get both the EPCAL legislation and the EPCAL subdivision approved.

Mr. Hochbrueckner was the congressman who sponsored the bill that saw the U.S. Navy give the land to Riverhead Town for economic development to replace the jobs that were lost when Grumman, which tested fighter jets at the site, closed up shop in the early 1990s.

“I started this in 1993 and I’m glad it’s finally settled in 2013,” Mr. Hochbrueckner said Friday.

The bill has undergone numerous revisions over the past two weeks until language acceptable to all parties was agreed upon this week, Mr. Walter said.

There are currently identical versions of the revised bill in the State senate and Assembly.

The revisions eliminate the original bill’s plan to create a commission made up of town, state and county representatives and instead leaves the approval process entirely within the Riverhead Town Board’s control.

The proposal would call for a generic environmental impact study of all development at EPCAL to be completed upfront with input from town, state and county agencies, and then subsequent development applications that conform with that overall plan would not need to do separate environmental studies, thus cutting the review time needed for the project.

It’s similar to a plan the town enacted for downtown Riverhead under the Cardinale administration, although that plan relied on Apollo Real Estate Advisors to complete the upfront study, whereas in this instance, the town has already begun the study under a contract with VHB Engineering, which also is creating the subdivision map for EPCAL.

The bill was on the floor of the full Senate for a vote on Wednesday but was set aside so that the changes could be made to the language.

The Assembly also made those same changes to the bill on Thursday, according to Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who is sponsoring the bill along with state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson).

Mr. Thiele, whose district covers the South Fork, has been acting as a sort of “defacto” North Fork assemblyman since the North Fork position was vacated earlier this year when Dan Losquadro resigned to become Brookhaven Town highway superintendent.

The bill must still be voted out of the local government committees in both houses and then be approved in a vote before the full houses of the Senate and Assembly by Thursday, June 20, which is the last day of the current session of the state Legislature.

tgannon@timesreview.com

05/23/13 9:29pm

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead Republican nominees, from left, Mike Panchak, Laverne Tennenberg, John Dunleavy, Sean Walter, Anthony Palumbo and Jodi Giglio.

It’s Sean Walter vs. Angela DeVito for Riverhead Town Supervisor.

The incumbent Republican Mr. Walter and the Democrat and former school board president Ms. Devito received the nominations of their respective parties Thursday night.

Despite having twice won elections for Town Supervisor, Mr. Walter wasn’t a guaranteed nominee. Assessor Mason Haas and Councilman Jim Wooten had both screened with party officials, but come Thursday both had backed off plans to oppose the sitting supervisor.

Mr. Haas even went so far as to nominate Mr. Walter, who promised to “be a better supervisor.” When asked if he was surprised by the support shown to him Thursday, Mr. Walter admitted he hasn’t always been a friend to everyone in the party.

“I think it’s very easy to lose sight of the people that got you elected and by reconnecting with the committee and finding out what their needs and concerns are to get renominated brings you back to your roots,” Mr. Walter said.

“In my zeal to get things done I ran over a lot of people,” he added.

Mr Wooten said that’s just how things are.

“There are no friends in politics,” he said. “We can’t afford to look back. We have to look forward.”

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead Town Democratic nominees, from left, Icilio ‘Bill’ Bianchi, Millie Thomas, Angela DeVito and Greg Fischer.

Ms. DeVito was nominated with the unanimous support of the Democratic screening committee, though current Riverhead school board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Greg Fischer of Calverton received support from the floor. Ms. DeVito easily won the nomination, though.

She said recent votes give her hope she can win the election.

“This is the year,” she said. “The thing I learned in the Obama campaign and the Krupski campaign is that we Democrats can win. I got three calls for Sean Walter this year. He is scared. He is worried about the Democratic slate … we are going to bring the people together.”

Ms. DeVito, 64, is a member and former president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association and is retired from her position as director of workforce development with the Long Island Building Trades Council.

Icilio “Bill” Bianchi and Millie Thomas received the Democratic nominations for Town Council. George “Gio” Woodson received the nomination for re-election as Highway Superintendent. Mr. Fischer later received the Democratic nomination for Assessor.

Mr. Bianchi, 82, is a former New York State Assemblyman who used to live in Bellport and now lives in Riverhead and owns a greenhouse on Doctors Path, where he grows orchids.

Ms. Thomas, 62,  is a real estate broker and owner of Landmark Realty in Wading River.

As expected, incumbent Republican council members Jodi Giglio and Jon Dunleavy were nominated for re-election. No other designations were made. Afterward Anthony Coates, who had screened with GOP officials, said he’s going to move forward with a primary campaign.

“I am running for the town board to propose new policy,” he said. “I am running to offer fresh ideas and to be a new voice.”

Laverne Tennenberg received the GOP nomination for re-election as assessor, while Mike Panchak was nominated to oppose incumbent Democrat George “Gio” Woodson for Highway Superintendent.

Riverhead Democrats voted to support John McManmon of Jamesport for the vacant state Assembly seat, though the move was met with controversy. While he’s registered to vote at his parents’ address in Jamesport, some Democrats, led by Greg Fischer of Calverton said he lives in New York City.

Mr. McManmon, an attorney in Manhattan, told the News-Review he does live in Brooklyn during the week for work purposes but has always voted here.

Brookhaven and Southold Democrats still have to choose a nominee for Assembly at their town conventions next week.

Republicans announced earlier Thursday that they will support New Suffolk attorney Anthony Palumbo for Assembly.

ORIGINAL STORY

Rootin’ for Wooten for Supervisor? Have a hankering for some Haas?

Sorry, this doesn’t appear to be your year after all.

GOP sources said Thursday that Riverhead Town Councilman Jim Wooten and Assessor Mason Haas have both backed down from their intent to run for Town Supervisor. Instead, sources have confirmed, incumbent Supervisor Sean Walter, 46, is expected to get the support of the Republican Committee at tonight’s nominating convention at Polish Hall.

The same sources said Thursday that incumbent council members Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy will also get nominations for re-election, as has been expected.

Mr. Wooten, 53, stopped short of saying he’s no longer interested in running for supervisor, but he did say he’s in favor of party unity.

“The convention is tonight, and you never know what will happen,” Mr. Wooten said. “But I think the Republican Party is poised to stand together and unify their choices, and as far as my pulling out, I’m going to do what’s best for the party.” He declined to say if that meant he would not challenge Mr. Walter in a primary.

Mr. Haas, 55, could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday. Riverhead GOP chairman John Galla declined comment.

Town Board hopeful Anthony Coates, 52, appears poised to wage a primary battle in the likely event he fails to earn a nomination over Ms. Giglio, 44, and Mr. Dunleavy, 72.

“It’s a decision I will make in the aftermath of the convention, but I am strongly leaning in that direction,” he said.

The GOP convention at Polish Hall is scheduled for 7 p.m., the same time Democrats will gather at the nearby VFW Hall.

The Riverhead Democratic screening committee is recommending Angela DeVito for Supervisor, and Icilio “Bill” Bianchi and Millie Thomas for council, according to Democratic chair Marge Acevedo. The screening process took more than 35 hours, and they screened four people for supervisor and seven for council, she said.

The screening committee recommendations don’t always get the support of the full committee, as was the case two years ago.

Ms. DeVito, 64, is a former Riverhead Board of Education president, a member and former president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association and is retired from her position as director of workforce development with the Long Island Building Trades Council.

Mr. Bianchi, 82, is a former New York State Assemblyman who used to live in Bellport and now lives in Riverhead and owns a greenhouse on Doctors Path, where he grows orchids.

Ms. Thomas, 62,  is a real estate broker and owner of Landmark Realty in Wading River.

tgannon@timesreview.com

05/23/13 9:28pm

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Board members (from left) Jim Wooten, John Dunleavy, Supervisor Sean Walter, Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen.

Riverhead Town Republicans and Democrats both hosted their nominating conventions in Polish Thursday night. Read a recap of our live reports below:

05/12/13 7:00am
05/12/2013 7:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Field Day stage days before the planned event in Calverton.

Five months after Riverhead Town voted to pay $1 million to settle its end of the nine-year-old Field Day lawsuit, a jury has ruled in favor of the remaining defendants in the case.

Court officials said there is currently no order requiring the Field Day concert promoters to pay legal fees to Suffolk County and New York State and that the jury on May 1 simply ruled against Field Day and in favor of the municipalities.

The promoters had sought more than $30 million in damages from the various municipalities that declined to approve the proposed 2003 rock festival in Calverton.

Riverhead Town and its police chief, David Hegermiller, were removed as defendants in the case in December after the town agreed to pay Field Day $1 million as a settlement to end its involvement in the case.

“We didn’t pay the full $1 million,” Supervisor Sean Walter said Friday. “We paid $250,000 and our insurance company paid the rest.”

He said with legal fees going at about $25,000 per week for outside counsel, the town probably would have spent close to $250,000 had it not settled.

Field Day LLC and AEG Live LLC filed the lawsuit in May 2004 against Suffolk County, Riverhead Town, New York State and numerous officials and departments within those municipalities after a proposed three-day music festival at the Enterprise Park at Calverton slated for June 17, 2003 did not receive the necessary approvals.

Field Day, which would have featured popular artists like Radiohead, the Beastie Boys and Beck, never took place at EPCAL because the county refused to provide police protection and the town said it didn’t have enough police officers of its own, which resulted in the county health department denying Field Day a mass gathering permit.

It eventually was moved to Giants Stadium in New Jersey as a one-day event on short notice, but had poor attendance due to heavy rains that day.

Town officials never officially approved nor denied the music festival, but instead held a press conference a few days before the concert was scheduled to start and announced that they would not issue the permit.

The lawsuit named Riverhead Town as a defendant and town police chief Chief Hegermiller personally, claiming his request for 150 more officers from the Suffolk County police department was not based on any standards or requirements found in the New York Mass Gatherings Laws.

While the town was removed as a defendant, several town officials still were called to testify in the eight week trial, which began on March 20 and ended on May 1. Among those called to testify were Chief Hegermiller, former Supervisor and current Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz, and former town attorney Dawn Thomas. Former town councilman Chris Kent also testified, although Mr. Kent was not in office at the time Field Day was proposed and was representing the concert promoters as a private attorney at the time.

Field Day was one of two large music festivals proposed for EPCAL that summer. The other, Bonnaroo Northeast, also featured big name acts, but it canceled after Field Day failed to gain approvals.

tgannon@timesreview.com

05/06/13 3:40pm
05/06/2013 3:40 PM
Sears in Riverhead

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Sears closed its downtown Riverhead store in 2006.

The former Sears building in downtown Riverhead, which has been vacant since the national company left town in 2006, could soon have new life.

Representatives for the building’s owner, Riverhead Enterprises, have presented Supervisor Sean Walter with a “pre-submission” plan for the property that shows the building being replaced by a mixed-use development of retail stores and apartments.

The plan shows a five-story building with about 130 apartments, both one- and two-bedroom, and smaller storefronts on the first two floors.

But in an interview with the News-Review Monday, Riverhead Enterprises partner Sheldon Gordon downplayed the preliminary plan’s significance.

“We’ve had some preliminary discussions and we’re studying the project, but there’s nothing definitive yet,” he said.

Riverhead Enterprises had submitted site plan applications to redevelop the Sears building, and two other downtown buildings it owns, in the mid-2000s, when Riverhead Town’s newly adopted zoning and master plan called for 500 apartments in the downtown area. Nothing came of those applications.

Those earlier plans, which also called for stores and apartments, were filed around the time the Town Board was contemplating condemnation of those and other downtown buildings to advance Apollo Real Estate Advisors’ vision for downtown.

Neither the condemnation nor Apollo’s plans ever came to fruition.

Mr. Walter has stated frequently in recent months that 500 downtown apartments are too many and the Town Board will need to cut that number in half because there isn’t enough parking to accommodate that many apartments in the area. With the changes in mind, Mr. Gordon acknowledged time may be running out to submit an apartment plan for downtown.

Several apartment proposals have already been submitted or are moving forward, including the Summerwind Square project on Peconic Avenue, which is close to opening. Apartment projects are also proposed for the current site of the Long Island Science Center building on West Main Street and the former Woolworth building on East Main Street.

Mr. Sheldon said interest has been shown in the Sears building for uses other than apartments, although he didn’t want to discuss specifics.

“I think something will be done with it in the next few months,” he said.

Sears had occupied the downtown store for more than 40 years before closing in 2006, at about the time Sears merged with Kmart.

Sears products continue to be sold at the Riverhead Kmart store.

tgannon@timesreview.com