Retail development proposed for former sand mine site in Calverton

A company called New England Retail Properties plans to buy five acres at the 51-acre Calverton Industries sand mine site on Route 25 in Calverton with the goal of building a retail development there.

But town planning officials said they’d like the property to be tested for possible contaminants, given its previous use as a minding and materials processing site.

A development comprising four buildings totaling approximately 51,000 square feet has been proposed for the northern part of the property, fronting the road, and would be built in a campus style, according to the application. The project, which was discussed with the Riverhead Planning Board last Thursday, calls for a main building of 19,097 square feet with an attached fenced-in outdoor sales area of 15,000 square feet.

That space would be occupied by a national business called Tractor Supply Company, which sells things like tractor parts, work clothing, hardware and hay — but not tractors — according to Mark D’Addabbo of NERP.

The other three proposed structures — a 9,450-square-foot building and two 4,000-square-foot buildings — do not yet have tenants, he said.

Calverton Industries had been in a number of legal battles with Riverhead Town dating back to the 1990s, with the town claiming the company was sand mining illegally on the property without proper approvals. A 2006 court ruling in one of those lawsuits gave Calverton Industries the right to develop the property under its previous zoning, Business CR — which includes retail uses — even though the town had rezoned the property to Industrial B in 2004.

A company called East End Recycling and Composting had received a permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to construct a solid waste management facility there that would include a tipping and processing building and a composting facility. That permit is still valid, town officials said, although the overall proposal has never received town approval.

Calverton Industries had completed all mining and reclamation activities at the site as of Dec. 7, 2010, according to the DEC. The company currently has DEC permission for construction and demolition processing.

In 2012, John Cameron, head of East End Recycling and Composting, told the News-Review he’d been renewing the DEC permit annually. At the time, he had a proposal to lease the site and develop it with a solid waste transfer station and recycling facility, an indoor composting facility and industrial storage buildings, as well as retail shops, restaurants, apartments and office space on the part of the property fronting Route 25.

Mr. Cameron did not return a call seeking comment.

Mr. D’Addabbo told the Planning Board that NERP is purchasing only the five-acre parcel and said he is unaware what was planned for the rest of the property. He frequently said during last Thursday’s meeting that he would have to ask the property owners in response to questions from the board.

Planning Board chairman Stan Carey said he believes a representative for the entire property’s owners should be present at the Planning Board meetings involving this project, and he felt the town should require soil tests on the entire property in light of the industrial and mining activity that has taken place there.

Mr. D’Addabbo questioned what this had to do with his application.

“I’d like to know if the whole property is contaminated or not,” Mr. Carey said. “If it’s contaminated in the back, I’d say it absolutely impacts your subdivision application.”

The town planning department also felt the entire property should be tested for the potential presence of volatile organic compounds and other contaminants.

NERP, which has yet to purchase the five acres, is also seeking a three-lot subdivision to separate those five acres from the rest of the Calverton Industries property.

The three proposed lots include the NERP acreage, along with a 41-acre parcel that covers most of the property, and another five-acre lot along Route 25.

Town planning aide Greg Bergman said that while the three-lot subdivision is considered “minor,” the planning department feels it should be reviewed using the standards applied to a major subdivision, given the amount of activity that could occur on the rest of the property.

For instance, NERP’s site plan application only calls for 30-foot wide entrance roads, instead of the 55 feet width normally required by the town. Planners want the roads to be 55 feet wide.

Photo caption: A view of the Calverton site on Route 25. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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