The Riverhead Town Board at its Nov. 17 work session. Photo: Alek Lewis

At the Nov. 17 Town Board work session, Council Member Tim Hubbard proposed a resolution for a moratorium on all industrial development in the hamlet of Calverton for one year pending completion of the update to the town’s comprehensive plan. Hubbard was responding to the public outcry for such a moratorium and his proposal was well-reasoned and supported as being lawful by Town Attorney Erik Howard. The responses from the supervisor and Hubbard’s fellow board members were a study in dysfunctional governance.

Both Council Member Bob Kern and Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, over the sound legal advice of Town Attorney Howard, argued for a shorter moratorium with exemptions. Kern repeatedly cited as examples “benign” uses such as battery storage facilities that don’t impact traffic. Yet, such facilities are not even permitted by the current town zoning code and are just the type of new uses that need to be studied in the comprehensive plan update. Moreover, industrial uses have many potential impacts apart from increased traffic such as pollution, noise and undue demand on resources such as the water supply.

As pointed out by Howard, to pick and choose exemptions from the moratorium is an open invitation for lawsuits from developers whose projects are non-exempt. He also pointed out that a six-month moratorium is impractical and unrealistic. The contract to update the comprehensive plan has not even been signed yet.

This Nov. 17 work session was a stark illustration of the inability of this Town Board to responsibly govern. Every resident of Riverhead should watch it on the Town’s website.

As things now stand, at the end of the work session, two resolutions are to be drafted: one with exemptions and one without. This is a complete waste of time and effort as a moratorium with exemptions is a pipe dream and will inevitably lead to more delay and nonsensical squabbling among board members.

A one-year complete industrial moratorium is what Calverton needs and deserves. To do anything less is to waste the hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent by the board to update the town’s comprehensive plan.

Kathleen McGraw, an attorney, is a resident of Northville.

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