Architect's rendering of HK Ventures' proposed industrial complex on Middle Country Road in Calverton. Image:BLD Architecture

The developer of a large industrial complex on Middle Country Road in Calverton has modified its proposal to reduce the extent of the variances it is requesting from the Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals.

HK Ventures of Great Neck plans to construct eight warehouse buildings, totaling 412,659 square feet of light industrial space, on a 30-acre site on the south side of Middle Country Road, just east of Fresh Pond Avenue in Calverton.

The developer is seeking variances from town code limits on building height and impervious surfaces.

Initially, the developer requested a variance to allow a building height of 38 feet, where the maximum permitted by code is 30 feet. However, it revised its site plan to reduce the building height to 35 feet.

HK Ventures also sought a variance to allow impervious surfaces totaling 65.51% of the site, where the maximum allowed by code in the zoning district where the project is located is 60%.

An impervious surface is a surface that does not allow water to soak into the ground, such as paved roads and sidewalks. Town code limits impervious surfaces because water cannot penetrate these surfaces and often runs off into storm drains or nearby bodies of water, which can cause flooding and other problems. The revised site plan reduced impervious surfaces to 60.72% of the site.

ZBA Member Leroy Barnes said the ZBA appreciated the applicant going “back to the drawing board” as members requested.

The ZBA hearing was adjourned to April 13. The ZBA cannot act on the variance application until the Planning Board completes the process required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act, known as SEQRA.

The proposed development is at the end of the SEQRA review process, which requires the adoption of a SEQRA “findings statement,” forming the basis for the lead reviewing agency’s final action on an application. The findings statement is prepared after the lead agency’s adoption of the final environmental impact statement, which sets forth ways in which adverse environmental impacts are proposed to be mitigated, or lessened.

A findings statement prepared by Riverhead planning department staff was on the agenda for the Planning Board’s March 2 meeting but was pulled at the request of the applicant because Planning Board Chairperson Joann Waski was unable to attend that meeting, according to Riverhead Planner Greg Bergman.

The draft findings statement concludes that “the proposed project will not have significant negative environmental impacts” if six conditions are met. Among the conditions is the completion of the reconstruction of the Edwards Avenue/Middle Country Road intersection before any building permits for the project can be issued.

The State Department of Transportation has acknowledged that the intersection of Middle Country Road and Edwards Avenue, located approximately 1.5 miles east of the development site — and the likely path of most truck traffic to and from the Long Island Expressway — is dysfunctional. The State DOT plans to widen the intersection and add dedicated left-turn lanes at all four approaches. Currently, the State DOT expects construction to begin sometime in spring 2024 and be completed in the spring of 2025.

Representatives from HK Ventures told the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) last night that they expect the Planning Board to complete the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process, which means adopting a findings statement, before the April 13 ZBA meeting. At that meeting, the hearing on HK’s appeal to the ZBA can be completed, and the ZBA can make a decision if it chooses.

The Planning Board has two regularly scheduled meetings before the April 13 ZBA meeting. The next meeting is on March 16, and the one after that is on April 6.

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