File photo: Denise Civiletti

The Riverhead Town Board Tuesday authorized the $20 million purchase of the Peconic Bay Medical Center’s Second Street campus for use as a new Town Hall.

The board also authorized borrowing in the amount of $21.5 million, $20 million to cover the purchase and $1.5 million to cover costs of improvements and renovations at the new site.

The purchase includes a three-story, 36,000 square-foot office building, a two-story office building, a bank branch occupied by People’s United Bank and a two-story wood frame house that has been converted to office space. It also includes a large parking lot on the corner of Railroad and Roanoke avenues, which has more than 160 spaces, and would provide additional municipal parking in the downtown area.

Town board members say they plan to relocate offices from the current Town Hall at 200 Howell Avenue as well as town offices located in other buildings, including the building and planning and accounting departments and the town historian’s office. The move will allow the town justice court to be relocated to the current Town Hall from the cramped building it shares with the Riverhead Police Department next door to Town Hall.

The costs of renovating the current Town Hall as a court facility and renovating the current police/court building for use by the police department alone is not included in the $1.5 million bond.

The purchase and bond issuance are subject to a permissive referendum under state law. That means meaning residents can force a vote on the proposed purchase by filing a petition within 30 days from adoption of the resolution containing signatures from qualified voters in the town representing at least 5% of the number of votes cast for governor in the town during the last gubernatorial election. The resolutions adopted Tuesday will not take effect until 30 days after adoption or, if a petition is filed, until after the action is approved by voters.

In other action at Tuesday’s meeting, the Town Board:

Adopted the Long Island Workforce Housing Act into the town code. The Long Island Workforce Housing Act is a state law enacted in 2008 that allows local governments to afford development plans a 10% density bonus over the otherwise maximum allowable residential density, in exchange for dedicating that extra density to workforce housing or making payment into a town fund equal to the value of the lot for “advancing the construction of, acquisition of land or the rehabilitation of affordable housing within” the town.

Amended the town code to eliminate nonresident seasonal parking permits at town beaches, parks and recreational facilities.

Approved a change order to the demolition contract for 117 E. Main Street, one of the buildings purchased and razed to make way for a town square. The to change order is for the installation of drainage structures on the parcel to accept runoff flowing out of the existing pipe coming off Main Street (State Route 25) onto the Town Square parcel. A drainage pipe running under the property had previously routed runoff from the street to the Peconic River. The board Tuesday ratified amending the town’s $965,000 demolition contract with J. Petrocelli Contracting to authorize the drainage work at an additional cost of $11,068.27.

The demolition of the building and the neighboring 127 E. Main Street building was completed last fall. The drainage pipe on the site of 117 E. Main Street prevented the town from grading and seeding the site so that fencing could be removed, according to town officials. The town had been waiting on authorization from the State Department of Transportation, Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said.

Retained the consulting firm Sam Schwartz to assist the Riverhead Planning Board, at its request, with review of the application of NorthPoint Development for the Riverhead Logistics Center at 1743 Middle Road in Calverton. A public hearing on the scope of environmental review has been scheduled by the Planning Board for Sept. 1.

The Riverhead Logistics Center is a 641,000-square-foot warehouse distribution facility proposed for an approximately 40-acre site on Middle Road opposite Manor Road in Calverton.

Set a public hearing on proposed “Battery Energy Storage Systems” code. The board will hear public comment at its next regular meeting on a proposed zoning code amendment to regulate “Battery Energy Storage Systems.” The systems store energy for distribution at a later time. They are typically developed to increase the effectiveness of renewable energy production such as solar energy facilities. The systems allow energy from renewables, like solar and wind, to be stored and then released later to meet customer demand.

The proposed code would require a Town Board special permit to site a “Tier 2” (capacity greater than 600kWh) battery energy storage system, which may be located only in the Industrial A, Industrial C, Planned Industrial Park, Agricultural Protection, and Residence A-80 zoning use districts. The proposed code sets requirements for minimum lot sizes, property line setbacks, lot coverage and structure height for the new use, as well as “avoidance areas” where such systems would be prohibited, such as flood hazard zones and open space areas.

The proposed code also requires the systems to adhere to all requirements for such systems as set forth in the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and the New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code.

The Riverhead Town Code currently does not address battery energy storage systems. Planner Matthew Charters led the planning department’s effort to research and develop the proposed code. Charters made two presentations to the Town Board about battery energy storage and the need for a local code. He presented a draft code to the board at last week’s work session.

There has been a lot of interest in siting these facilities in Riverhead, Charters said in a recent interview. Riverhead has hundreds of acres of solar arrays either operating or under construction in the Calverton area, in the vicinity of the LIPA substation on Edwards Avenue.

An application for a battery storage facility adjacent to a proposed LIPA substation off Oregon Road in Cutchogue is pending before the Southold Town Planning Board.

The public hearing on the proposed code will be held is at 6:10 p.m. on Aug. 16 at Town Hall.

Editor’s note: This article has been amended post-publication to correct the statement that there were no applications to site battery energy storage facilities pending in Riverhead Town. While no applications for such facilities had been publicly aired at the time of publication, there were two applications filed this year.

Riverhead Town proposed Battery Energy Storage Code by RiverheadLOCAL on Scribd

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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.