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Town Board unanimously votes down proposed change to Q&E requirements

All five Riverhead Town Board members voted no Tuesday on a resolution to change the requirements in the town’s qualified and eligible sponsor regulations regarding the submittal of financial information, but their reasons for doing so varied.

The proposal stems from the town’s proposed sale of 1,640-acres at the Enterprise Park at Calverton to Calverton Aviation & Technology, a group headed by Triple Five Group.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith and Councilwoman Catherine Kent, both Democrats, had submitted the proposal to force their Republican counterparts to formally vote by resolution if they wanted to lessen the requirement that companies seeking Q&E status show they have the financial wherewithal to buy and develop land at Urban Renewal sites like EPCAL. Ms. Jens-Smith and Ms. Kent both opposed the proposal.

“The reason this resolution is here is because board members expressed that they’re not interested in seeing the financial documents,” Ms. Jens-Smith said.

Richard Amper, the executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, also weighed in at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.

“It’s completely incomprehensible why you would want anything less than the maximum amount of information that you can get to make the best informed decision,” he said. “This is the most significant decision that you folks will ever make.”

Republican council members Jodi Giglio, Jim Wooten and Tim Hubbard also voted no — for different reasons.

“This is not wise to change the rules in the middle of the game,” Ms. Giglio said.

The proposed resolution changes the rules for any groups seeking a future Q&E designation, including publicly traded companies, where such information would be available, she said.

Mr. Hubbard had previously said the resolution was an attempt to stall the proposed $40 million at EPCAL.

Mr. Wooten said “resolutions should have some sort of consensus on the board before they be introduced.”

At a recent Town Board work session, town finance administrator Bill Rothaar said that CAT hadn’t submitted any of the financial information the town requested. But he added that the town has approved Q&E status in the past to companies that did not submit financial information.

Ms. Jens-Smith proposed a resolution to change the portion of the Q&E law to say that an applicant “may but does not have to include” the financial information currently required.

This includes a “pro forma financial statements for the proposed project, including sources and uses of funds, certified personal and corporate financial statements of the applicant sponsor, financial commitments of participating lenders, proposed security for the project, business plans and economic analysis of the project and past compliance with municipal laws, rules and regulations,” as the law currently states.

Triple Five Group is a privately-owned company and is not required to submit public Securities and Exchange financial statements like a publicly traded company would. Triple Five has stated it would not submit those financial documents, but submitted other information they say shows they are qualified, including a letter from accounting firm Grant Thornton saying Triple Five has “in excess of $40 million for use in connection with the purchase” of EPCAL.

Ms. Jens-Smith said the $40 million sale price doesn’t cover the cost of sewer and water district upgrades and the minimum $1 million infrastructure improvements that’s required in the agreement of sale.

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