Riverhead’s proposed subdivision of land at the Calverton Enterprise Park got a green light from the Suffolk County Planning Commission last week.
The commission voted 9-1 to approve the subdivision, with two members recusing and two absent.
Commission vice-chair Adrienne Esposito cast the lone dissenting vote, citing questions raised by the State Department of Environmental Conservation about the ability of the Riverhead Water District to supply the site with water.
The DEC has put the town on notice that it must prove the capacity of the town’s water district to serve the EPCAL site along with the rest of the water district and that the Riverhead Water District must obtain the consent of the Suffolk County Water Authority before the town can lawfully extend service into the site.
The town has applied to the State DEC for wetlands and Wild Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act permits. The town must obtain those permits, along with the approval of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, before the town planning board will grant final approval of the subdivision.
The DEC raised the issue of the Riverhead Water District’s capacity in a Notice of Incomplete Application issued to the town last month.
Responding to Esposito, chief planner Andrew Freleng said the question of public water supply is not within the planning commission’s jurisdiction.
“It doesn’t matter who supplies water,” Freleng told her. “You’re looking way beyond the subdivision,” he said.
The commission took up the town’s subdivision application at its meeting last Wednesday, held via the Zoom video conferencing platform. Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, planning and building administrator Jefferson Murphree, deputy town attorney Annmarie Prudenti and special counsel Frank Isler represented the town.
The commission attached two conditions to its approval: the town should consider utilizing the rail spur in future development at the site; and the town should consider retaining ownership of the site’s western runway, which will be deeded to Calverton Aviation & Technology under its contract with the Riverhead Community Development Agency.
Aguiar said in an interview last Wednesday that the town made it clear to the commission that the town is “committed to the preservation of habitat, grassland and woodland for endangered species.”
“I have made clear the town is committed to the preserving of 780+ acres of woodland and 512.4 acres of existing grassland with creation of additional 70.6 acres of grassland, plus wetland buffers,” Aguiar said after the meeting last Wednesday.
The Riverhead Community Development Agency, which holds title to the land, obtained preliminary approval of the eight-lot subdivision from the Riverhead Planning Board in June 2019.
It currently has applications pending before the county health department and the State DEC. Had the county planning commission disapproved the town’s application, a super-majority (four votes) of the town planning board would be required to grant final subdivision approval.
Riverhead is under contract to sell three of the eight lots to Calverton Aviation & Technology: lot 6, consisting of 727.3 acres; lot 7, consisting of 898.4 acres, and lot 8, an 18.1-acre parcel, from which development rights will be transferred to Lot 6.
The town entered into the $40 million contract with CAT in November 2018.
Riverhead will retain ownership of lots 1 through 5:
- lot 1, containing 292.7 acres is located in the Pine Barrens “Core Preservation Area” and shall be preserved in accordance with the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act of 1993;
- lot 2, containing 98.9 acres, is known as “Veterans Memorial Park;”
- lot 3, containing 11.2 acres, is known as “Grumman Memorial Park” and in part is reserved for future public uses;;
- lot 4, containing 34.1 acres is to be used as the recharge area parcel for the Calverton Sewer District’s upgraded sewage treatment plant;
- lot 5, containing 25.5 acres is the town’s “Henry Pfeiffer Community Center.”
Prior to the current sale agreement, the town pursued a 50-lot subdivision of the site. The county planning commission granted its approval to that map in 2014.
Correction: This article originally said a planning commission condition was that the towns would consider retaining the 10,000-foot runway. The condition said the town should consider retaining the western runway, which is the 7,000-foot runway on the site.
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