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Town Board weighs possible moratorium on industrial developments in Calverton

An 18-month moratorium on industrial development projects in Calverton would include at least six large projects that are under review, according to Riverhead Town officials, who discussed the potential moratorium at Thursday’s work session. 

But town attorney Erik Howard said that none of those projects are “vested,” meaning that they haven’t made any substantial expenditure or construction on the projects, and the town could withstand a legal challenge.

Whether board members want to declare a moratorium in Calverton still has to be determined. 

The call for a moratorium, which would put a stop on development in whatever area the town targets, first was made by residents at public meetings who said the number of large industrial projects in Calverton was growing, and that the town should review them cumulatively. 

The Planning Board at its meeting last week agreed to send a letter to the Town Board recommending a moratorium.

Councilman Tim Hubbard put forth a proposal for an 18-month moratorium that barred the Town Board, Planing Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, or other town department from taking any action on site plan, special permit, subdivision and other applications while the moratorium is in place. 

Mr. Hubbard said this would enable the town to undergo its comprehensive plan update. 

The moratorium would apply to development on the Industrial A, B, and C zones within the Calverton zip code. 

The currently pending applications that would be effected are:  

• H.K. Ventures, which calls for 412,000 square feet of development on Route 25.

• Ostead, a subdivision proposal on 130 acres on Route 25.

• Riverhead Logistics Center, which calls for 641,000 square feet of development on 40 acres on Middle Road.

• UHaul of Calverton, which is adding 152,000 square feet.

• JPD Calverton, which is proposing to add 74,765 square feet.

• PODS, on Main Road, which is adding 45,000 square feet, doubling in size. 

Officials expressed concern about including H.K. Ventures, which is the furthest along of the projects cited. 

“There will be litigation on that one,” if the town includes it in the moratorium, Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said. 

But Mr. Howard said that proposal is not vested.  

Councilman Bob Kern asked why the board would want to include a “benign” use like PODS. Mr. Howard said it’s just a list at this point. 

Mr. Kern said that it will reduce the town’s tax base at a time when the town is proposing to pierce the state’s two-percent tax cap.

Councilman Ken Rothwell said the town has been working with H.K. Ventures on installing a new water tank on their property, and that this could jeopardize that. 

He also said H.K. Ventures is too far along to put them under a moratorium. 

Mr. Hubbard said he would not oppose taking H.K. Ventures out of the moratorium but that he still favors it. 

Board members agreed to get information from the different projects to show how far along in the review process and to use that information for further discussion.