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Energy developer sues Riverhead Town to halt $40M EPCAL sale

Suitor for Calverton property wants to convert the 2,900-acre property into a solar farm and says it has tried to “submit a higher and better offer” than that the one by Luminati Aerospace and its partner.

The offer for the EPCAL property by Luminati

The offer for the EPCAL property by Luminati Aerospace CEO Daniel Preston and his business partner has come under fire in recent months from residents. Photo Credit: Newsday / Chuck Fadely

The attorneys representing renewable energy developer sPower are suing Riverhead Town to stop the proposed $40 million sale of the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

Melville-based Weber Law Group LLP — which represents Sustainable Power Group, or “sPower” — announced in a statement late Friday that the firm had filed a lawsuit on Thursday in state Supreme Court in Riverhead against the Riverhead Community Development Agency to halt the planned deal with Calverton Aviation & Technology LLC before the agency “even entertains other offers for the property.”

“sPower has attempted to submit a higher and better offer for the EPCAL property, but the CDA [Community Development Agency] has refused to entertain any other offers,” the law firm said in its statement.

Weber Law Group representatives attended a Jan. 17 town board meeting and offered to convert developable land on the 2,900-acre Calverton property into a solar farm. At that same meeting, Long Island Needs a Drag Strip also offered to turn the land into a quarter-mile drag strip for motor sports races.

However, Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith told them the town could not consider new offers for the property because of ongoing negotiations with Calverton Aviation & Technology. Jens-Smith could not be reached for comment Friday.

The board will vote Feb. 6 on whether to schedule a qualified and eligible hearing for Calverton Aviation & Technology — a joint venture between Calverton-based Luminati Aerospace and Triple Five Real Estate I LLC — to determine whether the group can execute its proposal to develop the property and expand Luminati’s operations.

Weber Law Group argued in its statement that while the agency believes it cannot listen to other offers due to a letter of intent signed with Luminati Aerospace in March 2017, that the letter of intent “only applies to a proposed deal with Luminati and Luminati alone — a deal which has since been abandoned, along with other variations on that deal.”

As a result, the firm stated, sPower wants the court to declare the letter of intent invalid, which would allow the Community Development Agency to consider other offers for the property.

Luminati’s offer has come under fire in recent months from residents skeptical of the company’s qualifications and ability to follow through on its proposal. Most recently, the town board had to push back the original Jan. 17 qualified and eligible hearing on the deal when board members learned that Triple Five Ventures Co. LLC, Luminati’s original partner in the deal, was being replaced with Triple Five Real Estate I LLC.

Riverhead Town Attorney Robert Kozakiewicz said Friday that the town is aware of the motions filed and said the court rejected the plaintiffs’ attorneys request on Thursday to issue a temporary stay motion to stop the qualified and eligible hearing. Jason Stern, a partner and director of litigation at the Weber Law Group, confirmed on Friday that the stay motion attempt was denied.

Kozakiewicz said Friday that the town will issue a response statement on the lawsuit to the court prior to Feb. 13.

“The town’s position has been that we’re not in a position to take other offers” as long as they were negotiating with Luminati, he said.

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