The Town Board had a busy agenda Thursday at its first meeting after the local election last week.
The board took comments on a local law to allow the town to pierce the 2% property tax levy cap and its proposed 2024 operating budget. It also held a hearing on the site plan application of Georgica Green Ventures for a five-story, mixed-use apartment building on West Main Street at the corner of Sweezy Avenue.
In a third public hearing, the board listened to requests from local organizations seeking a share of the anticipated $215,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding. The funds must be used to “benefit low- and moderate-income persons, aid in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight and/or meet a need having a particular urgency.” The board heard requests from Gwen Mack from the Church of the Harvest food pantry, Felicia Scocozza from Riverhead CAP, Judy Barth from Bread and More Kitchen, Brian DeLuca for Reflextions: Art in the Park, and Amanda Jesser from the Crime Victims Center during the hearing and received written requests from Open Arms Food Pantry and Catholic Homecare submitted written requests to the Town Board.
The board also held a hearing on a resolution to establish a sewer rent for out-of-town facilities for 2023. The out-of-town facilities at issue are those belonging to the County of Suffolk at the Evans K. Griffing County Center in Riverside, which is located in the Town of Southampton. The amounts owing by the county for sewage treatment by the town-owned wastewater treatment facility is the subject of ongoing litigation between the town and county.
The resolution establishes the out-of-district sewer rent for 2023 at $8.223 per 1,000 gallons. The flow generated by the county facilities is calculated to be 169,399 gallons per day resulting in an annual flow of 61,830,635 gallons.
According to the resolution, the county owes the Riverhead Sewer District $2,316,083.54 for wastewater treatment from 2018 through 2022 and an additional $889,758.30 for 2023, plus interest and penalties for past-due amounts.
Riverhead Sewer District Superintendent Michael Reichel said the town and county are in settlement discussions concerning this dispute but the town must still establish the sewer rent due from the county for the sake of consistency in the record.
In other action at the Nov. 9 meeting, the Town Board:
- Appointed a new deputy town attorney, Victoria Ceru, to replace Richard Stafford, who resigned in September after being employed by the town since October 2022. Ceru will be paid an annual salary of $115,000 and benefits. According to her LinkedIn profile, Ceru was an attorney at the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society for more than five years.
- Appointed two new members, Polis Walker and Carolyn Eddins, to the Riverhead Anti-Bias Task Force. The board also appointed Mark McLaughlin, the vice chairperson of the group, to the position of chairperson. The position of chairperson was vacated in September after Noreen LeCann, who was appointed to the position in a shakeup of the task force, resigned from the group.
- Appointed Riverhead Town Board members as the interim board of directors of the Council of the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall. The board of the Vail-Leavitt was vacated after the town filed a lawsuit against the board seeking to exercise the reverter clause contained in the property’s 1982 deed. The lawsuit ended when the former board members vacated their positions and gave the property back to the town. The resolution states the interim board shall hold a meeting within fifteen business days for the purpose of electing a permanent Vail-Leavitt board.
- Scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 5 on an amendment to Town Code Chapter 103, “Town Officers and Employees.” The amendment would change the town’s Department of Land Management to a new Department of Economic Development and Planning. The department will encompass the planning and building departments, as well as the town’s community development department. It also eliminates the position of building and planning administrator and replaces it with a new position: administrator of economic development and planning. The department will not encompass the fire protection office, which is by code under the Department of Land Management, but is in practice monitored by the chief of police. Dawn Thomas, who was hired as the director of the town’s Community Development Department in 2017, was assigned temporary oversight of the department last month, even though it has not been created yet.
- Authorized the transfer of $350,000 in the town’s reserve fund to budget lines to fund the construction costs of bathrooms and lighting necessary for the Peconic Hockey Rink at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton.
- Authorized the transfer of $190,084 in the town’s reserve fund to budget lines to fund the cost of replacing the deteriorating roof at the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps headquarters on Osborn Avenue.
- Authorized an appraisal for unspecified property located in Riverhead. Town Attorney Erik Howard said during the meeting that the property being appraised is confidential because the appraisal is being done “in contemplation of a type of litigation.”
- Ratified authorization for the town attorney to retain Volz & Vigliotta for the purposes of appearing for the town in a lawsuit from CMA Mine LLC against Riverhead Town and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
- Granted a six-month extension to the preliminary site plan approval for the Suffolk Theater’s site plan application for a mixed-use addition to the theater.
- Accepted the draft scoping document for the update to Riverhead Town’s comprehensive plan and set a 30-day written comment period for public comments on the document. The town also assumed lead agency and issued a positive declaration pursuant to the State Environmental Quality and Review Act.
- Granted the special permit for the Sandy Pond Mini Golf Course proposed for 1495 Roanoke Avenue.
- Appointed a hearing officer for a Section 75 hearing involving an unidentified town employee.
- Ratified the reinstatement of a police department employee, who Police Chief David Hegermiller has filed disciplinary charges against. The date of return to work will be at the discretion of the police chief, the resolution states.
- Rejected a settlement offer with 3M and DuPont related to PFOS and PFOA contamination impacting the Riverhead Water District. Deputy Town Attorney Annemarie Prudenti said the settlement would have been for around $1 million. The resolution states that accepting the funds has the potential “to impact eligibility for grant funding, requirement for a broad release of claims related to our drinking water, risk of solvency of the companies, release of liability and potential bar for recovery for unforeseen future costs.” Prudenti cited those factors as reasons for the town deciding to reject the settlement offer.
- Scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 5 on an amendment to the local law implementing the Long Island Workforce Housing Act. The law allows developers to create housing with a density bonus, if a certain amount of the housing is kept affordable. The amendment would give developers the option of constructing workforce housing units on land outside of the development receiving the density bonus, but in the same hamlet and school district, rather than building the workforce housing in that development or contributing a fee to a town workforce housing fund.
Correction: This article has been amended to correct information related to an appraisal authorized by the Town Board. The appraisal is for an unspecified property in Riverhead, not a Community Development Agency property.
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