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Supervisor says 600-acre building cap not included in sale contract

While Riverhead Town officials have said for much of the past few years that the state Department of Environmental Conservation will only allow about 600 acres to be developed at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said there is no mention of any development cap in the contract to sell 1,643 acres of town-owned land at EPCAL to Calverton Aviation & Technology.

That contract was written before she and Councilwoman Catherine Kent took office in January 2018.

“The DEC has never given a final determination of what was developable acreage and what wasn’t,” Ms. Jens-Smith said.

A DEC official sent the following response to the Riverhead News-Review when asked if there is a cap on the number of acres the DEC would allow to be developed at EPCAL.

“DEC will work closely with the town to evaluate any specific proposals.

“DEC determinations regarding the siting of specific projects relate to impacts on natural resources, and not acreage.

“DEC requirements for freshwater wetland, [and] Wild, Scenic and Recreational River setback requirements may impact the location of proposed EPCAL redevelopment projects but would not result in blanket determinations on the amount of acres that could be developed on this property.”

In addition, the DEC official said, “state and federal requirements relating to protected animal species may also impact the location of various redevelopment projects but also would not result in blanket acreage use totals.”

Before the CAT proposal emerged, the town had planned to sell about 600 acres to a company called Suffolk County Industrial for the same $40 million, but that deal fell apart.

Under former supervisor Sean Walter, the town then issued a release March 28, 2017, saying it planned to sell “the remaining acreage” at EPCAL to Luminati Aerospace for $40 million.

Luminati now owns 25 percent of CAT, of which it is a non-voting member. Triple Five is the majority owner of CAT.

“There’s definitely restrictions within the confines of the map, so each lot will have different requirements for what can be developed on it,” Mr. Jens-Smith said of the DEC requirements.

In addition, the agreement includes a three-lot subdivision that is part of CAT’s Intended Development Plan for the site, which will require approval from the town Planning Board, the county health department and DEC, Ms. Jens-Smith said.

DEC approval is needed, she said, because part of the land falls under the jurisdiction of the state’s Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act, which places limits on what can be built within certain distances of the Peconic River.

The town, not CAT, must file the subdivision map within a year of a required 90-day due diligence period that CAT must undergo, under the contract.

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