Councilwoman Jodi Giglio says she’s not ready to vote to settle the Calverton Manor litigation and plans to make a motion to table a resolution authorizing a settlement, if it’s on today’s town board meeting agenda.
Giglio said in an interview yesterday she has too many unanswered questions that prevent her from casting a vote either way, so she’d like to put it off until the next board meeting.
At Thursday afternoon’s work session, when the board met with the applicant and his attorney, the councilwoman said she favored settlement, based on the work session presentation by the developer. She said then she thought the settlement seemed fair, but had questions.
Giglio said she wants to know whether the master plan process was commenced after Calverton Manor’s site plan application had been filed, as Calverton Manor attorney John Wagner told board members Thursday.
“I asked for a timeline on Thursday,” Giglio said. “I also asked to see the letter from the town attorney they said they had.”
Giglio was swayed by Wagner’s statements that the town purposely stalled the application even after it had given “assurances” to the developer that the site plan would be approved, including a purported letter from the Riverhead town attorney stating the site plan would be approved before the master plan was adopted and implemented.
But it turned out there was no such letter, as reported yesterday by RiverheadLOCAL.
The councilwoman was also bothered by the answers she got when she asked if the town had put a moratorium in place while it did the planning study that might have hung up processing of the Calverton Manor application. Town attorney Bill Duffy at Thursday’s meeting said there was no moratorium.
But that wasn’t a complete answer, Giglio said. There was a moratorium on residential subdivisions, but not commercial applications, Giglio said she has since learned. “Since half this property is zoned residential, was it affected? I think ‘no’ was half an answer.”
Giglio said she’s still waiting to see evidence that the town did actually stall the application.
“I don’t want to see commercial sprawl west of the LIE,” Giglio said yesterday. “But I don’t want to risk the master plan, either. If the court throws out the master plan, the way the supervisor has said it might, will we end up with the old industrial zoning along Route 25? Will we have a rush of applications to develop under the old zoning? Will we have to put a moratorium in place? And I don’t want to spend $1 million to re-do the master plan,” Giglio said.
“There’s a lot to sort out and a lot of unanswered questions,” she said. “I don’t see what the rush is and why we can’t put this off for two weeks.”
Councilman James Wooten said yesterday he would support a motion to table, though he said he’d prefer to kill the settlement altogether and litigate.
“I think we can do better,” Wooten said. “If their case was that strong, why would they be here talking to us after all these years?”
Councilman George Gabrielsen said yesterday he would not vote to table a resolution authorizing the settlement.
“I sat with Rick and I’m comfortable with it as is,” Gabrielsen said. “I’m impressed that half the property will be preserved. I’m not in favor of tabling it.”
Councilman John Dunleavy said he supports the settlement because the town’s outside counsel, Lisa Kombrink, was skeptical about the town’s chances in court. He said he did not know the specifics of her skepticism and intended to call her this morning to discuss it. He said the town board, which recessed from the public work session to meet Kombrink and Duffy, did not hear details on the weaknesses of the town’s case.
Dunleavy said in any event he believes commercial development of the site in question is appropriate. “I can’t see why it can’t go there when it’s right at the terminus of the expressway,” he said.
As he has in the past, he said he does not believe the civic association leaders, who have objected to the development, represent the majority of the people in the community.
“I have been around town and I talk to people,” Dunleavy said. “I’m talking to regular people and regular people are not telling me they’re against this.” The councilman, who lives in Calverton, said local residents will welcome shops at this location.
Dunleavy said he thinks it’s unfair to prevent someone from using property under the zoning it had when purchased. “It took them five years to do the [master plan] study,” Dunleavy said. “So in the meantime, somebody says, there’s a nice piece of property and the zoning is right. He should be able to do it,” the councilman said.
Dunleavy also criticized Giglio for raising questions now. “This has been discussed the last two years,” he said. “Why does everything always have to wait till the last minute?”
He said he supports the settlement. “As of right now, I haven’t changed my mind.”
The matter is on the court calendar for tomorrow, Dec. 5. Developer Charles Mancini told the board Thursday if the stipulation is not authorized at today’s meeting, they would suspend negotiations and move forward with the lawsuit.
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