The Riverhead Town Board voted 3-2 Wednesday to accept venture group Calverton Aviation & Technology’s $40 million bid to purchase more than 1,600 acres of land at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.
The vote — split along Republican and Democratic lines — puts to an end more than a year of discussion on the proposal since Luminati Aerospace, a Calverton-based aviation company, first proposed in April 2017 purchasing property at the EPCAL site to expand the firm's operations.
Through the resolutions the board voted on, they found Calverton Aviation & Technology — a partnership between Luminati and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada-based developer Triple Five Group — as a qualified and eligible sponsor for the purchase and development of the deal, and authorized the deal's approval, town officials confirmed.
More than 100 people attended the Wednesday night meeting in Riverhead Town Hall. Opponents and supporters addressed the board before the vote.
Town Councilwoman Catherine Kent voted no, saying she “cannot emerge from all we have seen [in the application process] with any confidence in this applicant’s eligibility.”
Town Councilman and Deputy Supervisor Tim Hubbard voted yes, saying he had listened to all the comments for and against the project and he felt in the end, the project would generate “much-needed construction” jobs in the area.
Hubbard, who voted with fellow Republicans James Wooten and Jodi Giglio in favor of the resolution, said after the meeting he did not feel pressured to vote along party lines.
"Anyone who knows me knows if you try to force me to do something, you've got the wrong guy," Hubbard said, reiterating he made his decision based on the potential for the deal to bring more jobs to Riverhead.
Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, a Democrat who voted against the resolution, said after the meeting the board would now focus on the signing of the contract and making sure the venture group “complete that vision and they provide good jobs for the town of Riverhead.”
“How is the vision going to be in reality? We have not seen that. That’s what we’re looking to see, some concrete decisions about what’s going to go in there and who’s going to fill the space,” Jens-Smith said. “It’s a lot of square feet to fill, so we want to make sure the people filling that space are going to bring good jobs here.”
“We’re elated,” Stuart Bienenstock, director of business development for Triple Five Group, said after the meeting. “We feel amazing that the town believes in us and we’re going to prove that everything that we’ve been talking about is going to come to fruition.”
When asked, Bienenstock did not offer a timeline of when construction at the EPCAL site could begin, but said the group would seek the subdivision approval “as quickly as possible” to move the process along.
Of the strong comments against the sale, Bienenstock said, “When you’re going to the internet for your due diligence instead of going to the applicant directly, there’s a lot of misinformation, and that’s been our struggle throughout this process.”
“I'm hoping they prove me wrong,” Kent said afterward. “I love the town, and this is past now, and I want it to do well.”