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After long wait, EPCAL studies nearing completion

A rendering of Riverhead Town's proposed EPCAL subdivision.

The five-year, $500,000 environmental study of Riverhead Town’s proposed uses for the Enterprise Park at Calverton is nearing completion — three years after its original completion date. 

On Tuesday, the Riverhead Town Board is expected to vote on accepting what’s known as the finding statement for the various EPCAL studies.

“This is the final step in the SEQRA process,” deputy town attorney Ann Marie Prudenti said Thursday, referring to the state environmental quality review act process.

Those studies include an environmental impact study, a reuse plan, new zoning, a marketing plan, and a 50-lot subdivision map for the town-owned property, among other things.

The town cannot legally sell off individual lots at EPCAL without first subdividing the land.

The findings statement answers the questions and comments made during the study period, in regard to potential impacts of the plan, Ms. Prudenti said.

Among the last issues covered by the studies were the plan’s impact on two threatened species, the northern long-eared bat and the frosted elfin butterfly, Ms. Prudenti said.

The town agreed to restrict the cutting down of tries during certain times of the year to accommodate the bat, but the butterfly was out of luck. One of the comments during the study suggested that there were two species of plant at EPCAL that are food for the frosted elfin butterfly, but neither the town nor the state could locate those plants at EPCAL, Ms. Prudenti said.

The town’s request that the state move the boundary of its Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act as it applies to EPCAL is still pending, she said.

That act restricts development along the Peconic River and town officials have been trying to get it changed for years.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio expressed concerns about housing being allowed at EPCAL, as she has done in the past, saying there’s nothing in the zoning to prevent someone from building 300 homes anywhere on the site.

Ms. Prudenti said the “preferred alternative” in the Urban Renewal plan for EPCAL allows up to 300 residential units and up to 500,000 square feet of retail uses that are “in support” of the primary uses there, such as industrial development. She said the Town Board will have authority over site plans for commercial uses at EPCAL.

Once the finding statement is adopted, officials say the next step will be to actually implement the zoning and other recommendations of the study.

Photo Caption: A rendering of Riverhead Town’s proposed EPCAL subdivision.

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