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ZBA postpones decision on food waste facility, chairman says Town Board should issue ruling

The Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals postponed a vote Thursday on whether a food-waste-to-energy facility is a permitted use at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. 

The issue stems from CEA Energy’s proposal to build the organic food processing facility at EPCAL.  Board members did not indicate why they voted to postpone the ruling by two weeks Thursday.

However, ZBA chairman Fred McLaughlin said in an interview Friday that the board feels the issue should go before the Town Board for a ruling. 

The town had, in effect, already sent the issue to the ZBA. 

A March 4, 2022 letter from Jefferson Murphree, the town’s town building and planning administrator, and a Feb. 25, 2019 letter from then-chief building inspector Brad Hammond, both said the food-waste facility was not permitted at EPCAL, and suggested they go before the ZBA for an interpretation. 

Mr. Murphree’s letter said the proposed facility “has been found to be not a permitted use” in the zoning code.

However, the code doesn’t permit such facilities directly, but it also doesn’t prohibit them directly. 

But in Mr. Hammond’s letter, he said the proposal is “akin to specifically prohibited uses.” 

The ZBA plans to take up the issue again at its next meeting, May 12. 

The ZBA had held a public hearing on the issue April 14 and it indicated at the time that it would vote on April 28. But the ZBA instead opted to hold the vote over by another two weeks.