Featured Story

Town Board hears pitches from three companies seeking to complete comprehensive plan update

The Riverhead Town Board interviewed three companies seeking to complete the comprehensive plan update after the board terminated the contract with the firm first hired to complete the task.

The Town Board in June fired AKRF Environmental Planning and Engineering Consultants, the company it had hired in 2019 to oversee the first comprehensive update since 2003. 

At Thursday’s work session, board members interviewed representatives of H2M Architects and Engineers, Cashin Associates and BFJ Planning.

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said she is hoping the board will make a decision by September.

Councilman Tim Hubbard said three of the top issues the board is facing are relatively new issues, such as whether to continue a solar moratorium and how to deal with the issues of anaerobic digesters and battery energy power, both issues not currently addressed by the town’s zoning. There are applications pending before the town related to the latter two. 

Representatives from each company addressed the board Thursday. H2M has been the town’s attorney for its sewer district for several years and BFJ Planning led the town’s Route 25A Wading River Corridor Study.

All three groups asked if the town will provide them with the work AKRF had completed. 

Jefferson Murphree, the town’s building and planning administrator, said the town would like to send the comprehensive plan information to all three candidates, but the town has to retrieve them first. AKRF took down the website two weeks ago, which the Town Board discussed at its Tuesday meeting

Mr. Murphree said he has been in contact with AKRF and they understand that the documents belong to the town and plan to return it. He said the town was storing all the comp plan information and said the website was a “central database.”

Frank Fish of BFJ Planning said his firm had originally applied to do the town’s comprehensive plan update but was not selected. He said his company has 18 employees. 

Board members said fixing the town’s transfer of development rights program is another priority.  That’s a system where farmers sell their right to develop their farms, and the additional density can be used to increase development in areas where development is deemed more appropriate. TDR was meant to compensate farmers for upzoning their land about two years ago. Officials say it hasn’t worked.

Cashin Associates vice president Paul DiMaria said they have four to five planners available for the Riverhead job.

He said the majority of their work is with municipalities, particularly on Long Island.

H2M said it has more than 500 employees and has five planners that can work on Riverhead. 

Town officials explained the firing of AKRF by saying they did not engage with the town’s community development agency, or with the hospital or school districts, which are some of the biggest employers in the town. 

The board has yet to decide on what firm it will choose to finish the comprehensive plan.