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Riverhead board won't require financial disclosure from buyer in $40M EPCAL deal

Calverton Aviation and Technology has resisted requests for the 'sensitive' information, but town officials said it may still be required for completion of the sale.

Riverhead Town Board members Jodi Giglio, James Wooten and Laura Jens-Smith explain their votes on July 3, when the board voted 5-0 not to change procedures to require the Calverton Aviation and Technology venture group to show financial documents backing their $40 million bid for more than 1,600 acres of land at Calverton. (Credit: Newsday / Jean-Paul Salamanca)

The Riverhead Town Board voted 5-0 Tuesday not to change rules and procedures that would have required the group seeking to buy the EPCAL property to present certain financial documents proving its capacity to move forward with the deal.

Even with a unanimous vote not to change the procedures of the Riverhead Community Development Agency, board officials are still divided on whether such documents are needed for the deal to go through. Calverton Aviation and Technology is planning to buy 1,600 acres of land at Calverton for $40 million.

Board members had asked the venture group to provide certified personal and corporate financial statements from the applicant sponsor and pro forma financial statements for the project as part of the deal — which the board is holding off on voting on pending an ethics complaint against Councilwoman Jodi Giglio related to the sale.

Representatives for the venture group have said they declined to do so because they don’t want to make public sensitive financial information about the private partnering companies involved in the deal.

Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said Wednesday that she felt those documents — particularly the pro forma financial statements — would help the board better decide whether the group is qualified to purchase the property.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent said during the July 3 vote that she did not feel "with a deal of this magnitude that we would move forward without seeing all of the financial documents."

However, Giglio said Wednesday that she felt the Tuesday resolution was "political," adding she felt the venture group had provided sufficient financial documentation so far proving it could enact their plans. Giglio cited one such document, an April 11 letter from the Edmonton branch of accounting and business advisory firm Grant Thorton LLP stating their analysis determined venture group partner Triple Five Group of Companies' available cash balance "is in excess of $40,000,000 for use in connection with the purchase of the property in question." 

"The town board has broad discretion, as per our outside counsel, as to what documentation we can accept to determine whether or not an applicant is qualified and eligible," Giglio said. 

“I just want to reiterate that we have adequately provided the town with the required information to clearly demonstrate our capacity,” Stuart Bienenstock, director of business development for Triple Five Group, said Wednesday in a statement. Bienenstock added that those documents, such as the Grant Thorton analysis, are available on Riverhead’s website.  

“We understand what we are contractually obligated to," Bienenstock said, regarding providing pro forma documents. "Providing a pro forma or site plan is not a complicated process once you have a clear recorded subdivision approved and blessed by both the town and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.”

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