Walter heads to Albany in support of bill to create EPCAL commission

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter headed to Albany Tuesday in support of a bill to fast-track development at EPCAL.

The state legislation needed to create a special commission to fast-track development at the Enterprise Park at Calverton was introduced last Wednesday in both the state Senate and Assembly, and Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter headed up to Albany on Tuesday to lobby support for the bill.

The supervisor said he planned to meet with several key legislators from the Long Island delegation, such as Assemblyman Bob Sweeney (D-Sayville), who is he chair of the Assembly’s environmental conservation committee.

“We’re hoping it’s approved before the legislature goes home in June, because they only come back for a limited time in the fall,” Mr. Walter said. “But if it doesn’t work this year, we go back next year.”

The bill, which the supervisor has been pushing as a means of redeveloping EPCAL, was introduced in the senate by State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and in the assembly by North Fork representative Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham), South Fork representative Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) and Dean Murray (R-Patchogue).

The idea behind the legislation, which is based on legislation used in Devens, Mass., is to get all of the players involved in processing development applications at EPCAL in the room at the same time, so that projects aren’t stalled by having to go from one level of government to another.

It proposes to establish a 7-member commission comprised of the five Town Board members, along with one member each appointed by the governor and the county executive. There also would be two non-voting, ex-officio members who would come from civic or environmental groups.

There also would be an executive director of the commission.

The proposed legislation works similar to the way the state Pine Barrens Commission works, in that an overall reuse and revitalization plan for the area in question is developed first, and development applications that comply with that plan can be approved.

The town would retain zoning power and is already in the process of drawing up that reuse and revitalization plan and the zoning and subdivision map for EPCAL, having hired VHB Engineering a year ago to do so.

Any plan that is submitted and deemed a complete application must be acted on by the commission within 90 days, or it is automatically approved, according to the proposed state legislation, which was drawn up by the town and submitted to Senator LaValle.

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