The developer involved in a lawsuit with Riverhead Town over the zoning of his Calverton property is seeking public input on a new proposal to build residential units instead of retail stores.
During the Calverton Civic Association’s meeting Wednesday, developer Vincent DiCanio said that he’s willing to eliminate the commercial development plans from his Calverton Manor project and only build residential units at the 42-acre property, which is located at the northwest corner of Manor Road and Route 25.
Mr. DiCanio is proposing to build between 45 and 65 residential units on 18 acres along Route 25 and said he’s in contract to sell the development rights for the remaining 24 acres of the property, which would restrict that portion of land to agriculture uses.
“I’d like to settle the lawsuit and be able to develop it in a fashion that will make us a profit,” he told the audience at the meeting. “I’m here to get your feedback on developing residential homes, condos, on the front part of the property. It would be done elegantly — as classy as we could.”
Calverton Manor LLC had filed a series of lawsuits against Riverhead Town in 2004 and 2005 after the property’s zoning was changed as part of the town’s 2003 master plan update.
In 2001, Mr. DiCanio and his partner, Charles Mancini, first proposed building a 120,000-square foot “big box” shopping center, but then later amended it to reflect a “campus style” development, with several smaller buildings, including retail stores, restaurants and a bank.
When the town changed the zoning, the retail uses proposed were no longer permitted and the developer sued.
Last July, a state supreme court ruled in the town’s favor, which Calverton Manor developers have appealed.
The court’s decision came two years after Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter had proposed the town settle the case, claiming that if the town lost the lawsuit, its entire master plan and the zoning resulting from it would have been voided. That proposed settlement would have allowed the property to be developed under the zoning that was in place before the master plan update.
A majority of the Town Board rejected the supervisor’s proposed settlement.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio attended the civic association meeting Wednesday and said she was the swing vote against that 2012 proposed settlement.
She said that when she took office in 2010, the applicant was proposing 200,000 square feet of retail stores and 80 apartments, a plan she said she opposed.
Civic president Rex Farr said he believed his group’s opposition swayed the Town Board against that proposed settlement.
“The town took the civic association’s recommendation and did not settle,” Mr. Farr said. “Every time a challenge came to that master plan, what happened? The town caved. Every time the town caved, another challenge was made.”
Mr. DiCanio said at the meeting that the latest settlement proposal includes building homes ranging in size between 900-square feet and 1,200-square feet and estimated each unit will sell between $300,000 and $350,000.
In addition, Mr. DiCanio said he could offer some affordable or workforce housing.
“It would not be low income housing,” he added.
Some residents suggested Mr. DiCanio build an assisted living project.
Mr. DiCanio said he has considered those plans, but described that project as requiring a lot of municipal services and hookup to the town’s sewer district.
His current housing development plan doesn’t require a sewer district connection, he said.
Mr. DiCanio said he always opposed commercial development on the site, but his partners had outvoted him. If the community favors residential units, Mr. DiCanio said he will buyout his partners and proceed with a residential development plan. He said he will work with the town and the community in drafting the proposal.
Civic association members discussed Mr. DiCanio’s proposal after he left the meeting and said they would send him a letter stating they are concerned about the number of units being proposed and the potential impact the project could have on traffic and to the school district.
Mr. DiCanio had said he believes there won’t be many school children coming from the proposed homes due to the size of the units and price range.