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Town submits plan for EPCAL subdivision as May 15 deadline for approval closes in

Riverhead Town has now submitted its plans for an eight-lot subdivision at the Enterprise Park at Calverton to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, according to Supervisor Yvette Aguiar. 

A previously submitted plan was deemed incomplete by the DEC last fall.

The eight-lot subdivision is required in order to sell three of the eight lots to Calverton Aviation & Technology, which has offered to buy the land from the town for $40 million and to develop it for aviation and technology uses in conformance with town zoning. 

The three lots total 1,643 acres.

Ms. Aguiar says the town is hoping to post the application on its website by Tuesday so the public can see it without needing to file a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Town on Monday also submitted an application for a Wild Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act permit from the DEC as part of the subdivision application.

The WSRRA restricts development within its boundaries and part of the land the town is looking to subdivide falls within those boundaries.

“The information provided was directly related to environmental reviews concerning a bird study, mapping and other ancillary environmental inclusions,” according to the supervisor.

The Town had previously deferred release or publication of the supplemental filing, until receipt of confirmation was established from the DEC, Ms. Aguiar said.

“Today, the DEC advised the Town of Riverhead they have in fact received the application and the DEC will commence on its thorough review.” 

The contract between the town and CAT states that the subdivision must be approved by May 15, 2020, which is one year after CAT sent the town its notice to proceed.

Ms. Aguiar said she was unsure if that deadline can be met, given the DEC’s role in combating COVID-19. The contract states that if the deadline is not met, either side — the town or CAT — can terminate the deal. 

“I’ll address it when we get closer to May 15,” she said.

The Town Planning Board last year granted preliminary subdivision approval but that approval requires the state and county to also approve the subdivision before it can become final.

The Town Board had met in private last week to discuss the application. There was no notice of an executive session given, and Ms. Aguiar said Monday that the town’s attorney, Frank Isler, maintains that no notice was needed because it was not an executive session. 

That opinion stems from a Feb. 24, 2015 advisory opinion from Bob Freeman, then the executive director of the state Committee on Open Government, on a case involving the Plainedge board of education.

It reads: “When a school district attorney offers legal advice to his or her client, such as a board of education, and the advice is given to or shared with the board during a gathering of the board, the attorney-client privilege applies, and the Open Meetings Law does not. 

“A communication of that nature would, in our view, be exempt from the coverage of the Open Meetings Law. In a technical sense, a matter of that sort would not be an executive session, but rather a matter falling outside the scope of the Open Meetings Law.”