Town Board set to approve preliminary site plan for addiction research facility

A proposed addiction research and rehab facility at Enterprise Park at Calverton is expected to take a big step forward, as a majority of the Riverhead Town Board appears poised to approve a preliminary site plan for the project on Wednesday.

The project known as Peconic Care, led by founder Andrew Drazan, dates back to 2013 in Riverhead.

Located on about 40 acres within a 90-acre parcel owned by the Engel Berman Group, Peconic Care seeks to have both addiction treatment and addiction research in the same facility, which would be located just south of the eastern runway at EPCAL. It would comprise six buildings and 130 beds for research program patients who will participate in short-term, on-campus research trials and treatment protocols, according to the application.

The proposed plan consists of a 102,000-square-foot main building, a 17,000-square-foot short-term stay building, an 11,000-square foot fitness center and a 2,200-square foot arts, crafts and music barn. A maintenance building and gate house are also included in the plan.

The project has been slowly progressing since the Zoning Board of Appeals ruled in 2014 that it was a permitted use at EPCAL.

“The addiction issue is the No. 1 health crisis facing the U.S. right now,” Mr. Drazan said, pointing out that Suffolk County has more opioid-related deaths than any other county in New York State.

Peconic Care recently applied to the town Industrial Development Agency seeking a 20-year payment in lieu of taxes that would end up saving them more than $23 million in taxes over that period, according to preliminary numbers submitted to the IDA at the time.

Former Supervisor Sean Walter had said Peconic Care told him many years ago that they would not seek IDA benefits.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio raised that same issue at Thursday’s work session, where Peconic Care spoke before the board.

But attorney Peter Curry, representing Peconic Care, said the covenant that accompanied the 2014 ZBA ruling states that Peconic Care “will not seek exemption from real property taxes solely due to the nonprofit status of any entity involved in the operation of the” facility.

On Thursday, he said that if they decided to become a nonprofit entity, they would pay no property taxes. Instead, they are agreeing to pay a PILOT equivalent to real estate taxes.

Mr. Curry said Thursday the status of their IDA application is that they are waiting for the town assessors to come up with a final assessed value for their property, including the proposed buildout.

“As soon as that happens, we would then negotiate the PILOT,” he said.

Ms. Giglio asked if they would build the project with a 10-year PILOT instead of 20.

“I doubt it,” Mr. Curry initially said. But then he said that would be difficult to say without knowing the specifics of the PILOT.

Ms. Giglio said afterward that she supports the project, and realized that they could become nonprofit and pay no property taxes.

Councilman Tim Hubbard and Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith also said they will vote for the preliminary site plan.

“I think it is, unfortunately, a necessary facility in today’s day and age, with all the addiction that’s occurring in the country,” Ms. Jens-Smith said. “So to be able to have a state-of-the-art research facility here would hopefully prevent some of the problems that we’re facing. It’s very exciting.”

Photo caption: A rendering of what the facility would look like at EPCAL.

[email protected]