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An open letter to the Riverhead Town Board:

The Greater Calverton Civic Association understands that the Town of Riverhead has committed to updating our master plan and this effort cannot come soon enough for our community. Our civic association would like to work with members of the town board to develop a vision for Riverhead, obviously with a specific interest in our hamlets of Calverton and Baiting Hollow.  This is something that is extremely important for the town to start working on with us immediately.

Maintaining and enhancing Riverhead as a regionally important center of commerce, development and recreation is a shared objective. However, with the goal of advancing a thriving and sustainable economy, it becomes equally as important to preserve our natural resources and the rural nature and natural beauty of our communities. Paramount for all matters under consideration is Riverhead’s position at the headwaters of the Peconic River and the need to protect our drinking water and bays.

Although this letter is submitted within the context of the public record for a solar moratorium, our comments extend to capture the ongoing onslaught of major industrial development projects that are under consideration in piecemeal fashion.

You, as elected stewards of our community, need to consider the impacts of these projects on our town and its resources, not one-by-one, but cumulatively. The need to overhaul the zoning in our community is urgent and the timing is now more critical than ever. We ask that the town prioritize the hamlet of Calverton for immediate attention in the context of the town’s comprehensive plan update, scheduled to be completed in 2021.

There are multiple significant projects currently in the pipeline in the 11933 zip code, including: Island Water Park’s revised mining permit and site plan amendment application; CMA Mine’s vertical mine expansion; Breezy Hill C&D processing solid waste facility; HK Ventures’ massive industrial complex; Riverhead Solar 2 and L.I. Solar/Nextera, a combined 58.9 MW of solar energy production on nearly 500 acres.  

We are concerned that land use in Calverton is not being considered in a comprehensive fashion. We will not allow Calverton to become the dumping ground for industrial/commercial projects that are not wanted anywhere else.

Keep in mind this doesn’t even address EPCAL and the proposed CAT/Triple 5 development plan that is largely unknown along with a contract that gives away over 1,000 acres of public lands without satisfying any of the public inquiries and objections over this dubious decision.

You must consider the environmental significance of the cumulative impacts of these proposed projects as provided in SEQRA. This is not optional. Alternatives, for example, of locating solar on rooftops, expanding ideas around community features and benefits and “what’s in it for us” that goes beyond an idea of more tax income at any cost to our immediate community. Such considerations must be done to produce an optimal outcome for what is the most benefit for our Town cumulatively, not segmented into one-by-one, stand-alone projects. 
 

These are unique circumstances and we insist that the town board seize this opportunity and utilize its collective ability to propel Riverhead to maximize its potential as a town of regional significance, taking into account the quality of life of all its residents.

The Greater Calverton Civic Association hereby requests immediate action be taken by the town supervisor and town board on the following items:

Nextera and Solar 2 must become part of the solar moratorium being considered by the town board.

Until a comprehensive and strategic approach to developing solar in our community can be formulated in coordination with the town board, we request that the Nextera and Solar 2 projects be added to the moratorium. Since they have no approved site plans, consideration can and should be given to modifying these proposed developments to more positively impact our community. 

A moratorium on further industrial development in the 11933 zip code.

Until a comprehensive and cumulative approach to zoning and the extent of industrial development in our community can be determined by the residents in coordination with the town board and its hired consultants there should be a moratorium on further industrial development in the 11933 zip code.

We look forward to exchanging ideas with you, as our town officials, and having an active voice with the planning staff and consultants so that we can offer our assistance in making these important decisions.  

Whatever decisions we make will have a major impact on our community for generations to come and now is not the time to be short sighted or parochial in our view and approach.
 
Toqui Terchun
president, Greater Calverton Civic Association
 

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