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Planning Board sets hearing to discuss EPCAL subdivision

A rendering of Riverhead Town's proposed EPCAL subdivision.

The Riverhead Town Planning Board has scheduled a December public hearing to discuss a proposed 50-lot subdivision plan for Enterprise Park at Calverton.

During the board’s meeting last Thursday, Ed Densieski abstained from voting to schedule the Dec. 1 hearing because he’s against the proposed zoning, which would allow 300 housing units and 500,000 square feet of retail for supporting industrial uses at EPCAL.

“I believe that the EPCAL zoning that was adopted is horrendous,” he said. “We had good zoning there and we already had a great reuse study.”

The town approved a reuse plan for EPCAL in 1997 and revised the property’s zoning in its 2004 master plan update.

Mr. Densieski was the only Planning Board member to voice opposition to the plan last week, adding: “I’m done fighting over it, but I could never support even a public hearing on this.”

Frank Isler, an attorney representing the town on EPCAL issues, told the Planning Board last Thursday that the state Department of Environmental Conservation also needs to sign off on the proposal before the subdivision plan can move forward.

The DEC requires permits under New York State’s Endangered Species Act and Wild Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act in order to allow development along the Peconic River and within the habitats of endangered or threatened species. At EPCAL, these include the short-eared owl and eastern tiger salamander.

Permits also require a mitigation plan to offset the loss of habitat, Mr. Isler said.

Supervisor Sean Walter announced last month that the town had reached a tentative agreement to sell 633 acres at EPCAL to Suffolk County Industrial for $46 million. If those plans fall through, Mr. Walter has said New Jersey company Lincoln Equities Group remains interested in buying the land.

The Town Board will need to conduct a public hearing in which the buyer must prove he or she has the money and means to purchase and develop at EPCAL.

If the entire property is purchased, the buyer is responsible for building all infrastructure, Mr. Isler said. Mr. Walter said those costs could amount to around $50 million.

If individual lots are sold instead, the town will be responsible for providing infrastructure on unsold lots, Mr. Isler added.

Mr. Walter said he’s hopeful the subdivision application process will be completed by early 2017.

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Photo: A rendering of Riverhead Town’s proposed EPCAL subdivision. Click on image to enlarge.