Screenshot of interactive map on the town's new comprehensive plan website.

The Town Board at a recent work session heard presentations from three firms seeking the contract to complete the update to the town’s outdated 2003 Comprehensive Plan. The town recently fired AKRF—the consultants who had been unsuccessfully working on the update for the last two years. Take the time to look around Riverhead and you will see it is in desperate need of responsible planning. We need completion of the comp plan update before any more development occurs. 

If you are paying any attention at all, you know Riverhead is currently swamped with all kinds of proposals that are moving fast and furiously and will forever change this town.  There is the downtown revitalization initiative with the new town square, a proposed shooting range on Elton Street, the Railroad Avenue revitalization initiative with its transit-oriented development plan, and the new Town Hall on Second Street. And in Calverton alone, now home to multiple solar farms, there are three pending applications for massive warehouse projects totaling more than 2 million square feet of warehouse space on over 200 acres of land, much of which is wooded or agricultural at this time.  This is in addition to the 1 million square feet of warehouse space called for in the pending EPCAL deal with Calverton Aviation & Technology.  And  let’s not forget the two pending applications for large, controversial battery storage facilities, and one for an anaerobic digester. 

We watched as the solar farms proliferated in Calverton without any coordinated planning. That unplanned development led the Town Board to pass a “better late than never” moratorium on such projects last October.  Let’s not make that mistake again. Impose a moratorium — and include pending projects this time, which the law allows — get the comp plan done, then entertain development proposals consistent with the plan.

To plow ahead piecemeal as the town is doing right now, particularly with the massive warehouse projects in Calverton, makes no sense whatsoever. The enormous cumulative environmental impact of these projects on the gateway to the East End must be considered as a whole (think just for starters of an endless parade of tractor trailer trucks — not one by one, as is now happening. Why go to the time and expense of completing a comprehensive plan if you are willing to approve development of such a significant nature without benefit of that plan, even as that plan is being written?

Town Board, please take the time to get this right. Adopt a moratorium on development NOW. Don’t make the mistake you made with solar farms, passing a moratorium after the horse was out of the barn. Get the comp plan update done, then consider the pending projects. 

This is Riverhead’s future. Let’s not end up with another Route 58 which Town Board Member Kern so aptly described as “the supermarket to the East End.”

Riverhead should not become the dumping ground for development for the entire East End of Long Island as appears to be the intention of the myriad developers with their myriad plans for this town.

Impose a moratorium, complete the comp plan, then move forward in a measured and well-thought out way. Let’s get this right for a change!

Kathleen McGraw is a resident of Northville.

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