After seven years and $2M, project is approved

In 2003, E.B.S. Building Systems proposed a 62,300-square-foot complex at which to manufacture wood building components on land in the Enterprise Park at Calverton. On Tuesday that project finally received site plan approval from Riverhead Town.

Bill Schmidt, general operations manager for the company, told the Town Board last Thursday that when E.B.S. bought the 10-acre property in EPCAL’s industrial core from Jan Burman, their broker told them it would be just 60 days before they owned it. But problems developed because the land wasn’t subdivided when it was sold. That was followed by delays related to the discovery of endangered tiger salamanders on the property, which Mr. Schmidt said took 18 months to resolve.

On top of that, Mr. Schmidt said, the bank they were dealing with said it wanted its money back because nothing was happening on the land.

The most recent obstacle was the discovery that the project required a $41,000 building fee on top of a $35,000 sewer tap fee and a $23,000 water tap fee, Mr. Schmidt said.

“We didn’t spend zero dollars while we were waiting,” he said. “It cost us probably close to $2 million.”

Mr. Schmidt asked the Town Board to postpone payment of those fees until after construction is complete, but board members said they couldn’t do that with the building fees, and that the town was not in a position to reduce fees overall.

“The general fund is in very desperate financial shape,” Supervisor Sean Walter said. “We need the $41,000.”

“In any other town, the building fees on a 62,000-square-foot project would be about $8,000,” said Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who thinks the town should lower its fees.

But board members said they would allow Mr. Schmidt to first seek a foundation permit, at 10 percent of the overall building permit fee, and pay the balance when he begins construction of the rest of the building.

Board members also said they could pass a resolution delaying payment of the water and sewer fees until a certificate of occupancy is granted.

E.B.S. Building Systems also was granted a tax year property tax reduction by the town Industrial Development Agency last week. That reduction starts at 100 percent in the first year and is reduced by 5 percent each subsequent year. The tax exemption applies only to the value of improvements on the property, meaning the vacant land will always be taxed.

The project calls for construction of two buildings and an office totaling 62,500 square feet. The company makes wood building components, including roof and floor trusses and wall panels, according to its application.

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