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Planning Board holds public hearing open on EPCAL subdivision

The Riverhead Town Planning Board voted Thursday to hold off on adopting an eight-lot subdivision of land within the Enterprise Park at Calverton, and instead will hold the public hearing open for written comments only for 10 days.

The subdivision is needed to legally sell the lots. At Thursday’s hearing, residents disputed the town’s attorney’s claim that the subdivision is just “erasing lines on a map” and that no development impacts can be studied at this point.

The town, acting as the Community Development Agency, is in contract to sell 1,643 acres at EPCAL to Calverton Aviation & Technology LLC, which seeks to build at least 2 million square feet of construction, for $40 million.

But prior to the emergence of CAT — which is a partnership between Triple Five Group, which owns 75%, and Luminati Aerospace, which owns 25% — the town was planning a 50-lot commercial and industrial subdivision on the property.

Frank Isler, the outside counsel hired by the town on EPCAL issues, said there is nothing involved in the eight-lot subdivision other than “erasing lines on the map.”

The 8-lot subdivision calls for separating three lots that CAT seeks to buy  from the remaining lots owned by the town. The three lots total 1,643 acres, with one totaling 727 acres, another 898 acres and the third just 18 acres.

Mr. Isler said that had a road and a bike path not bisected the 18-acre lot, the land being sold to CAT would be one large lot.

Former Planning Board chair Barbara Blass, who also is a former councilwoman, disagreed, as did Phil Barbato, a former state Department of Environmental Conservation engineer.

Ms. Blass said there is no planning department report on the eight-lot subdivision.

“It is standard practice for the planning staff to review an application for the planning board’s benefit,” she said. “It’s highly unusual for any subdivision, minor or major, simple of complex, to proceed without any technical review and recommendations by the staff.”

Ms. Blass said that while former Supervisor Sean Walter signed the 50-lot subdivision in 2014, there is no signed application for the 8-lot amended subdivision.

She said that the agreement of sale between the town and CAT requires the town planning board to adopt the subdivision within a year of the end of CAT’s due diligence period, which is May 20.

“How is this not ‘subdivision by contract?’ ” she asked.

Mr. Isler reiterated that the town can’t study the impact of the development on the 8-lot subdivision because it doesn’t know yet on which parts of the property the development will take place.

He said that once CAT begins developing the land, extensive environmental impact studies will be required, but that this won’t happen until after the sale is complete.

Ms. Barbato said CAT’s economic benefits analysis shows baseline construction of at least 2 million square feet and the creation of 2,879 jobs.

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