A 51-acre parcel in Calverton where a once-controversial sand mine is located has been proposed for subdivision and development with 51,547-square-feet of new retail uses, including the national retailer Tractor Supply Co.
Tractor Supply Company is “the largest operator of rural lifestyle retail stores in the United States,” according to the company website. Headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, the company operates more than 1,600 retail stores in 49 states. It sells a variety of agricultural, animal and outdoor products, including power equipment, lawn and garden items, hardware and animal products.
Retail uses are allowed on the site because it is being developed under pre-master plan zoning, under a stipulation settling an old lawsuit between the town and the property owner, according to town officials.
If approved by the Riverhead Town Planning Board, the site opposite Fresh Pond Avenue would be split into three parcels. Parcels A and C— each about five acres — front Middle Country Road. The third lot, Parcel B, would be the 41-acre sand mine site operated by Calverton Industries.
Parcel A would be developed with four buildings in a campus-style layout. The largest building on that lot — a 19,097-square foot building with an attached 15,000-square-foot, fenced outdoor sales area — would be the site of the Tractor Supply Co. store.
The three other buildings — one 9,450-square-foot building and two 4,000-square-foot buildings — would house other retail uses. The three buildings are already being marketed by New England Retail Properties Inc., exclusive brokers.
Though the land on the south side of Route 25 between the Stony Brook incubator site and Edwards Avenue was zoned Industrial C pursuant to the 2003 master plan, the Calverton Industries property retained its pre-master plan zoning — old Business CR and old Industrial B — under a stipulation of settlement between the town and Calverton Industries, planner Greg Bergman told planning board members yesterday.
Bergman said in an interview after the meeting he had confirmed the zoning pursuant to the settlement with Riverhead town attorney Robert Kozakiewicz. Kozakiewicz was town supervisor when the stipulation of settlement was entered in 2002.
The stipulation ended a years-long lawsuit between the town and landowner Calverton Industries over the company’s right to mine the land. The settlement allowed Calverton Industries to continue to mine for five more years and also required the company to pay town a $1.25 million fine.
The planning board has two applications before it. One application is for a subdivision of the 51.8-acre site into three lots and the other is the site plan application for parcel A, the lot east of the access roadway, where the Tractor Supply store and three other retail uses would be developed.
Both the subdivision and site plan applications have been made by NERP Holdings, which does not yet own any portion of the site but is in contract to buy parcel A. Calverton Industries is the owner of record. Calverton Industries partner John Montecalvo has participated in meetings and discussions, according to town officials and NERP Holdings’ representative, Mark D’Addabbo of New England Retail Properties Inc. of Wethersfield, Connecticut.
Town wants environmental assessment of whole site
Town officials yesterday told D’Addabbo and his engineer, Eric Meyn of Bohler Engineering, that the entire 51.8-acre site must be considered for purposes of environmental review, including soil samples.
“Staff recommends a phase 1 and phase 2 environmental site assessment be conducted, to test for VOCs, metals, asbestos and whatever has ended up on the site over years of industrial use,” Bergman told the board. “Staff recommends holding off on the SEQRA determination until that assessment is done,” Bergman said.
The mining permit issued by the State Department of Environmental Conservation to Calverton Industries required the mine to be “reclaimed” by filling the excavated area — from which 2.25 million cubic yards of sand was to be removed — with DEC-approved materials. The DEC was responsible for monitoring the mining and reclamation process. Both have been concluded.
The site is currently used as a construction and demolition debris processing facility, pursuant to a DEC permit issued to Calverton Industries and Sky Materials at the Calverton site in May 2011. It allows processing of asphalt, brick, concrete, gravel, rock, clean soil, unadulterated wood, brush, branches, trees and stumps at the site.
Bergman said the staff also recommends that the access roadway be designed to the standards of a major industrial subdivision because the large parcel in the back could be subject to significant future development.
Both recommendations got some pushback from D’Addabbo and Meyn, who argued that the soil investigation should be limited to the parcel being purchased by NERP Holdings and that the 28-foot roadway depicted on the subdivision map was adequate to serve the two smaller parcels in the front.
“Right now it’s one piece and we have to look at it as one piece,” planning board chairman Stan Carey said.
“Due to the nature of the activity there, soil samples should be adequate to cover the whole area. I’d like to know what’s in the soil in the back.”
Though DEC monitors the site, environmental planner Jeff Seaman said, “DEC has not provided uswith any information. If the applicants have that information and want to provide it back to us that’s fine,” he said.
D’Addabbo asked if those results would impact his company’s application. “What if ours is clean and back there is not?”
“Of course it would,” Carey replied. “If this piece is contaminated back here, I would say absolutely it would impact your subdivision.”
Town officials had previously sought to have town monitor on site to inspect materials being brought in as fill during the reclamation process. The town also wanted to have groundwater tests done to make sure the fill was not contaminated and polluting the aquifer. The site is located in a county-designated special groundwater protection area and a state-designated critical environmental area. It borders the Central Pine Barrens.
“We were extremely concerned about the materials being used as fill,” former councilwoman Barbara Blass told RiverheadLOCAL in 2015. She noted that the DEC only tested the groundwater twice a year.
But the town’s efforts were rebuffed by state regulators and eventually abandoned by town officials.
“We didn’t have jurisdiction,” Supervisor Sean Walter said in a 2015 interview. Walter, a lawyer, served as deputy town attorney during Blass’ tenure as a councilwoman. “We tried but did not have the jurisdiction,” he said.
Yesterday, D’Addabbo said he would speak to Montecalvo about copies of DEC monitoring reports.
He also said he’d already spoken with Montecalvo about plans for the 41-acre site “and he says he has no plans” for it.
“With the huge truck and equipment pulling soil and materials out of there, why wouldn’t you want to build it to town standards anyway?” Carey asked D’Addabbo. “That road could be a mess after a year.”
D’Addabbo conceded that “big trucks” do come in and out of the site regularly. “I don’t know what they’re doing back there — mining or materials, but they’re big trucks,” D’Addabbo said. “You’re probably right.”
“The reality of the expense here over the course of 500 feet — you’re taking another $10,000 or $15,000 to pave it on a project that’s going to cost you $4 million or $5 million to build,” town engineering consultant Vincent Guadiello told D’Addabbo.
“Those are valid points,” D’Addabbo said. “Again, it’s not my property. It’s Calverton Industries and John [Montecalvo] has got to make the decision,” he said.
The access road, as part of the 41-acre parcel B, will remain in Calverton Industries’ ownership.
An existing metal building on the site would be removed. The building is located where the access road is planned, Bergman said.
Carey said he thought a traffic signal at the intersection created by the new access road with Route 25 — to be aligned with Fresh Pond Avenue on the north — may be in order for safety purposes, considering the traffic volume in the area.
Editor’s note: This story has been revised for clarification since first published.