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Town Board seeks approval power over EPCAL subdivisions

A proposal to give the Town Board approval power over subdivision applications at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, parts of downtown Riverhead and Railroad Avenue drew only one speaker during a public hearing Tuesday.

Currently, the Planning Board has authority to approve subdivisions throughout the town and approve commercial site plan applications everywhere except Urban Renewal areas, where the Town Board has that power.

The only UR areas in town are EPCAL, downtown Riverhead and Railroad Avenue.

Supervisor Sean Walter said the change is necessitated by the state-approved a “fast-track” law for EPCAL, which grants automatic approvals for projects if decisions on them aren’t made within 90 days after submission of a properly engineered site plan.

If applications continue to need both subdivision approval from the Planning Board and then site plan approval from the Town Board, that deadline is unlikely to be met, Mr. Walter said.

Laura Jens-Smith of Laurel, who ran for a Town Board seat in 2015 on the Democratic line, was the only speaker at this public hearing — and she opposed the plan.

“Having the Town Board approve both the subdivision plans and site plans removes a second set of eyes from reviewing what is sure to be a major development projects for Riverhead,” she said. “It is not a secret that Riverhead is looking to EPCAL to help reduce town debt and close any budget shortfalls. Having the Planning Board continue to approve subdivision plans removes the temptation to fast-track projects to help the town in the short term.”

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