2014 0314 epcal sign

The State DEC has again sent the Town of Riverhead back to the drawing board on its EPCAL subdivision plan.

The DEC on Nov. 19 issued a new Notice of Incomplete Application in connection with the eight-lot subdivision the town is pursuing in furtherance of its contract of sale with Calverton Aviation and Technology.

The Riverhead Community Development Agency, which owns the 2,324-acre former Grumman site in Calverton, last month submitted updated documents to the DEC in response to the agency’s previous Notice of Incomplete Application.

Until the DEC determines the town’s application for a Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act subdivision permit is complete, the DEC’s review of the application will not go forward. The subdivision cannot gain final approval without the DEC permit approval.

The DEC is requiring the town to prepare a new comprehensive habitat protection plan, a document required by DEC regulations, for the proposed eight-lot subdivision.

The agency also said the town must get the issue of public water supply to the site squared away. Both the Riverhead Water District and the Suffolk County Water Authority have in the past laid claim to the right to serve the site.

But the town’s latest submission to the DEC said there is “no claim of right or desire” by Suffolk County Water Authority to serve the EPCAL site, as expressed in discussions between the water authority and the town that took place on Oct. 5.

The DEC says it wants that in writing from the water authority, which previously notified the DEC it objected to the Riverhead Water District serving the site.

“Should SCWA no longer wish to serve this property, they must formally rescind their objection to RWD serving the EPCAL property, which in part states that SCWA is “ready, willing and able to serve this area,” DEC Region I deputy permit administrator Sherri Aicher wrote in the Nov. 19 Notice of Incomplete Application, addressed to the town’s special counsel, Frank Isler. The notice was posted on the town’s website.

“EPCAL is not located within the authorized boundary of the RWD,” Aicher wrote.

She called “incorrect” the town’s position that SCWA is prevented from serving the site by Section 1078 of the State Public Authorities Law, which says “SCWA shall not sell water in any area which is served by a water system owned or operated by a municipality …”

Riverhead Water District is “not legally serving this area as no permit granting such authority has been issued by the Department,” Aicher wrote.

Numerous Riverhead Water District extensions over the past 20 years have been built without DEC permits, as previously noted by the DEC in a prior Notice of Incomplete Application.

The town must prepare a new “stand-alone” comprehensive habitat protection plan for the proposed eight-lot subdivision, Aicher wrote. The habitat protection plan filed by the town refers to the 50-lot subdivision map previously prepared by the town in connection with the former Grumman site. The town decided not to pursue that subdivision plan and instead entered into a contract in 2018 to sell 1,643 acres in three large lots to CAT, a Triple Five Group affiliate.

“The CHPP must detail the ecological communities of concern and must discuss how these communities are likely to be impacted by the full build-out proposal for the currently proposed 8-Lot subdivision,” according to the notice.

“The 593.2 developable acres on Lots 6, 7 & 8 … must be shown on the CHPP map,” Aicher wrote. The CHPP map must also show where 583 acres of grassland and other habitat are located on the proposed lots, she wrote.

The agency is also requiring revisions to the town’s SEQRA consistency analysis, a document prepared to analyze the differences between the proposed eight-lot subdivision and the prior plan — for which a full environmental impact statement was prepared — for the purpose of environmental review of the new plan.

“If the full build out proposal to be examined for the purposes of the SEQR Consistency Analysis will be the EPCAL Reuse and Revitalization Plan, supporting exhibits must be provided,” Aicher wrote.

These include:
• A Reuse and Revitalization Plan map
• A map showing the proposed eight-lot subdivision and delineating the acreages specified in the comprehensive habitat protection plan and/or SEQR Consistency Analysis to be preserved or developed, such as 787.3 acres of existing woodland to remain, 512.4 acres of existing grassland to remain, and 593.2 acres of developable land on Lots 6, 7 and 8.
• A map of the “Potential Maximum Development Full Build Out” proposal as described in the revised SEQR Consistency Analysis. The map must also include the location of the ecological communities of concern identified in the comprehensive habitat protection plan, she wrote.

Riverhead is in contract to sell approximately 1,644 acres within the enterprise park site to Calverton Aviation and Technology for $40 million. The deadline to file an approved final subdivision plat with the county clerk passed in May. Under the terms of the contract, either party then became entitled to cancel the deal, but neither has chosen to do so.

Support local journalism.
Now more than ever, the survival of quality local journalism depends on your support. Our community faces unprecedented economic disruption, and the future of many small businesses are under threat, including our own. It takes time and resources to provide this service. We are a small family-owned operation, and we will do everything in our power to keep it going. But today more than ever before, we will depend on your support to continue. Support RiverheadLOCAL today. You rely on us to stay informed and we depend on you to make our work possible.

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.