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Riverhead to ask Calverton developer to provide financial documents

Town board members said they want to ensure the venture group is financially capable of following through with the $40 million proposal to purchase land at the Enterprise Park at Calverton for development.

Riverhead's Town Councilman Jim Wooten and Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith debated at the town board meeting Tuesday about whether to request that Calverton Aviation and Technology provide financial documents proving its could move forward with its plans to buy more than 1,600 acres at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. 

The Riverhead Town Board will ask the venture group seeking to purchase the Enterprise Park at Calverton for $40 million to provide financial documents proving they are capable of following through with their plans.

While the board took no formal vote at its regular meeting on Tuesday, a majority of the board agreed to send a letter through the town’s legal counsel to the lawyers of Calverton Aviation and Technology LLC asking them to provide financial documentation backing their plans to expand operations for their Calverton-based partner Luminati Aerospace. No deadline for the information was set.

If Calverton Aviation and Technology decides to give the town the financial documentation, the previously closed "qualified and eligible" hearing will have to be reopened to include those documents as part of the proceedings. If they decline, as they have in the past, citing the desire to keep sensitive financial information private, the proceedings will stand “as they are right now,” Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said.

The venture group wants to convert more than 1,600 acres of the Enterprise Park at Calverton into space suitable to expand Luminati’s operations. The proposal calls for building 1 million square feet of commercial industrial space at the site.

Residents have raised concerns about the group's finances, its background, loss of past potential business partners, potential tax breaks, possible harm to water quality from the development and whether Luminati chief executive Daniel Preston has been involved in any bankruptcies or lawsuits.

Councilman Tim Hubbard said Tuesday he wanted the town to ask Calverton Aviation and Technology representatives if they would provide the documents for review before the board makes a decision on whether to approve the group’s bid for the property.

“Given the circumstances of what’s been presented to us in terms of the financials from CAT, it’s not possible for me to vote in favor of this project without having more information,” Hubbard said.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent, who has previously supported seeing the financial documents, said, "I can’t fathom moving forward with a deal this important to our town without seeing all of the verifying financial documents.".

Jens-Smith said the documents would have to be reviewed by an accredited outside financial group and the town would expect the venture group to pay those expenses.

Councilman Jim Wooten said the town should be “somewhat responsible” for such fees, as the town was asking for it.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said certified public accounting firms put the cost of reviewing the financial documents at $50,000 to $100,000.

The town board also is awaiting an ethics board ruling on whether Giglio acted improperly when she met privately in March with Calverton representatives to ask them questions about the proposal.

Calverton Aviation and Technology representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

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