Riverhead Town has formally renewed its request to review Triple Five’s financial statements — a request the privately held company had previously declined, citing privacy concerns.
The attorneys for the town emailed the request to the company’s attorneys late Friday afternoon, Supervisor Jens-Smith said.
The town set a deadline of 4 p.m. Wednesday for a response. The company requested an extension of the deadline because “some folks are away,” the supervisor said. The town will likely get a response next week, she said. The board is considering a seven-day extension, according to the Jens-Smith.
“They basically have three options,” Jens-Smith said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “They can submit the financials as requested, they can pay for an outside accounting firm to review them, or they can decline and the town board will make a decision based on the information we have.”
The renewed request for the documentation came after Deputy Supervisor Tim Hubbard changed his mind about requiring it. He announced his decision at the town board’s last regular meeting July 17.
“I don’t feel I have enough information to make a qualified decision based on the information they gave us,” Hubbard said at the meeting.
Triple Five spokesperson Stuart Bienenstock did not return a phone call or email seeking comment Wednesday afternoon. Bienenstock has said in previous interviews the company believes it has submitted financial information adequate for the town to make a “qualified and eligible” determination. It has submitted a letter from an accounting firm stating that a list of accounts provided to the firm by Triple Five totaled an amount “in excess of $40 million.” It also submitted documentation of financing in connection with the American Dream project in New Jersey.
The company told town officials it would submit its financials for review by an outside accounting firm if the town paid the bill for the review. The cost could exceed $50,000 and perhaps be as high as $100,000, officials said. The town declined.
An in-house review would be conducted by town financial administrator William Rothaar, a certified public accountant, who serves as chief financial administrator of the Riverhead Community Development Agency, which holds title to the land at the Calverton Enterprise Park.
Calverton Aviation and Technology, a limited liability company founded in December by Triple Five Real Estate 1 and Luminati Aerospace, is seeking to purchase 1,643 acres of vacant land at the Calverton Enterprise Park from the Riverhead CDA for $40 million, pursuant to a letter of intent entered into between the town and Luminati in April 2017. The town board in December 2017 approved a proposed contract of sale with CAT, subject to a finding by the town board that the company is a “qualified and eligible sponsor” pursuant to state law.
State law allows the sale of a municipal asset without a public bidding process or an appraisal if the sale is in a designated urban renewal area, and if the town has adopted an urban renewal plan, if the proposed use is in furtherance of the goals of the adopted urban renewal plan. The proposed purchaser must be determined by the town to be “qualified and eligible” to complete the sale and the proposed development, in accordance with rules adopted by the town.
The town board adopted rules for making the “qualified and eligible” determination in 2004 and amended them in June 2017. The rules state that the town shall shall review “pro forma financial statements for the proposed project, including sources and uses of funds, certified personal and corporate financial statements of the applicant sponsor, financial commitments of participating lenders, proposed security for the project, business plans and economic analysis of the project and past compliance with municipal laws, rules and regulations.”
The extent of disclosure required for compliance with the rules has been the subject of a sometimes contentious debate among members of the town board and in the community.
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