The Riverhead Town Board at its May 18, 2022 meeting, Deputy Supervisor Devon Higgins presiding. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The town board will hear public comment at its next regular meeting on a zoning code amendment to adopt the Long Island Workforce Housing Act.

The Long Island Workforce Housing Act is a state law that took effect Jan. 1, 2009. Under the act, when a developer applies to build five or more residential units, the local government, in exchange for a “density bonus” of at least 10% over the maximum number of residential units allowed on a given site, must require the developer to set aside at least 10% of the proposed units for affordable workforce housing. Affordable workforce housing is defined by the act as housing for individuals and families at or below 130 percent of the median income for the Nassau-Suffolk primary statistical area, as set by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The developer has two alternatives for compliance with the set-aside requirement. First, it can provide land at a different location and construct the required number of affordable workforce housing units there, or rehabilitate existing housing for this purpose. Second, it can pay a fee in lieu of constructing the affordable units. These fees are then used by the local government to construct affordable workforce housing, acquire land for the purpose of providing affordable workforce housing or rehabilitate structures for the purpose of providing affordable workforce housing.

The board last week scheduled the public hearing to take place on June 7 at 2:15 p.m. at Riverhead Town Hall.

Board OKs $10.5 million in bonds for sludge reduction project

The town board at its May 18 meeting authorized the issuance of $10.5 million in 40-year bonds to fund the construction of sludge volume reduction/bio solids process control improvements at the Riverhead sewage treatment facility. The system will drastically reduce the amount of sludge materials that will have to be shipped off-site for disposal and save the town money over the long term, according to district engineering consultants H2M.

Town sets $788,612 in 2022 sewage treatment fees for county facilities

The board last week also adopted a rate for sewage treatment services for out-of-town facilities. Currently the only out-of-town facilities connected to the town’s treatment plant are the county buildings in Riverside — the county center, courts and correctional facility.

The out-of-town rate is the same as the rate for facilities within the town, Sewer District Superintendent Michael Reichel said. It is structured differently because the sewage fees charged to in-town customers include a property tax that the town cannot levy on sites outside its borders. The fee to be charged equals the sum of the per-gallon fee and the property tax that would be assessed on the facilities for sewer services, he said.

The May 18 resolution set the fee to be charged Suffolk County at $788,696.12 for 2022.

The amount of the flow from the county facilities is estimated based on a formula used by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, Reichel said.

The town and county are embroiled in a dispute over the fees sought by the sewer district that landed in court last year when the county sued the town, arguing that it is seeking an exorbitant amount for treatment to compensate for the county’s rejection of the town’s demands for a larger allotment of county sewer tax stabilization funds.

The town and county had a longstanding service agreement that set sewer rates for the Riverside facilities. The agreement expired in 2017 and the two governments were not able to reach a new rate agreement.

Town issues RFP for landfill solar project

Riverhead will once again attempt to site a renewable energy facility on the site of its closed and capped landfill. The town board last Wednesday approved a request for proposals for the renewable energy project. The deadline for the submission of proposals is July 15.

Specifications and guidelines for proposals are available on the town website and at the town clerk’s office and may be picked up between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, beginning Thursday, May 26.

There is a mandatory pre-bid meeting and site inspection to be held on Monday, June 13 at 9:30 a.m. (rain date Wednesday, June 15 at 9:30 a.m.)

The RFP comes after a solar energy company pitched the town board on a landfill solar project last month.

Riverhead Town has in the past pursued the idea of a solar facility at the landfill, which was shut down in 1993 pursuant to state law and subsequently capped by the town to help prevent groundwater contamination. The town issued a request for proposals for a solar project there in 2012 and in 2019, but nothing came of those efforts due to the distance from the landfill site to the nearest LIPA substation that could accept power generated at the facility.

In other action at the May 18 meeting, the town board:

  • Granted preliminary site plan approval for a 36-seat restaurant at 133-139 Railroad Avenue, the former site of the Loose Caboose bar.
  • Adopted a small-lot ordinance to allow owners of pre-existing undersized lots to obtain certain building permits without having to gain a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
  • Adopted a code amendment to allow the town to assess a site plan review fee to charge a developer with payment of out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the town for studies and/or to retain expert advisors related to review, hearing and determination of site plan applications.
  • Held a public hearing on a site plan application filed by Suffolk Theater owner Bob Castaldi to build a two-story restaurant on the east end of Heidi Behr Way on the Peconic Riverfront.

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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.