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New proposal for assisted living center at Calverton Manor property

The owners of the Calverton Manor property on the northwest corner of Route 25 and Manor Road are now hoping to build an approximately 110,000-square-foot assisted living center on 11 acres there.

The proposal calls for a three-story building with at least 140 beds, a number they said is needed for the project to be profitable.

The assisted living center would be targeted to people who are at 110 percent of the median income in Riverhead Town, according to the Census.

Now working with Calverton Manor is Ronald DeVito of Concordia Senior Communities, who had previously tried to build an assisted living center on Mill Road, north of Home Depot, but never got support of the full Town Board.

He said that income level is about $63,000 per year.

Calverton Manor, headed by Gary Schneider and Charles Mancini, has been in litigation with Riverhead Town since it filed lawsuits in 2004 challenging the town’s then-newly adopted master plan and the zoning changes it recommended.

A state appellate division ruled in favor of the town on three of those four lawsuits earlier in April.

John Wagner, the attorney for Calverton Manor, said they are appealing those decisions to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

In addition to the assisted living center, Calverton Manor is also planning to sell two agricultural lots totaling 24 acres to Lavender by the Bay. Those lots are located to the north of the 11-acre site.

Lavender by the Bay, which runs a successful lavender farm in East Marion, had to discontinue operating a farm stand on the Calverton site it leases from Calverton Manor earlier this year because it lacked town approvals. The town issued a violation and required them to legalize the farm stand, but also later allowed them to continue selling plants in the interim.

Lavender by the Bay is currently before the town Planning Board seeking approval for the farm stand.

The Calverton Manor property has been the subject of a wide variety of development proposals dating back to 2001 such as a 120,000-square foot “big box” shopping center, a YMCA, retail stores, apartments and space for Peconic Bay Medical Center and its employees, among other things.

A 135-unit assisted living project was proposed in 2016 with builder Vincent DiCanio, but that proposal did not call for selling the two farm pieces. Also in 2016, Woodbury-based developer Robert DiNoto pitched an assisted living center in Jamesport. That property eventually was preserved through a Suffolk County land preservation offer.

The current zoning on the parcel slated for development as an assisted living center is rural corridor, a zone that doesn’t permit assisted living or retail and allows limited uses, according to Mr. Wagner.

In addition, the current zoning would require at least 15 acres to build the proposed facility, officials said. It could be permitted with a variance from the town Zoning Board of Appeals.

The proposal also is not connected to the town water district and sewer district, which would be needed, officials said. Those districts would have to be extended to the property.

Mr. Wagner said they might seek a change to uses permitted in the RLC zoning or a change to the zoning of the property.

Currently, only the retirement community zone, which is located along Middle Road, permits assisted living.

Mr. DeVito said the size of the Calverton Manor proposal is only big enough for assisted living, and not other categories, such as independent living senior housing, that were proposed on the 25-acre Mill Road site.

But the majority of Town Board members said they felt an assisted living center is a use that is needed in the town and urged Mr. DeVito and Mr. Schneider to continue pursuing the project.

“I think this is the perfect place for assisted living,” Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said. “We have a big senior population and people want to keep their loved ones close.”

“This is a case where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” Councilman Jim Wooten said.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith cautioned that the “devil is in the details.”

The Town Code defines affordable assisted-living to have a minimum of 74 percent of its residents to have income at or less than 110 percent of the county median household income, as determined by the Census.

Mr. Devito said he will go by the town median income, rather than the county, since the town number is lower.

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