Riverhead officials are holding off on moving forward with United Riverhead Terminal’s proposal to build a 28-by-45-foot pad with six biofuel tanks at its Jamesport facility until they have more information.
The Town Board voted 5-0 Wednesday at its regular meeting to table a resolution that would have approved the company’s special permit to expand a storage and distribution facility — at 212 Sound Shore Rd. — to build the pad. The pad would house 18,000-gallon tanks to store biodiesel.
The company has requested the expansion to comply with a 2017 New York State law requiring all heating oil sold for use in any building in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties as of July 1, 2018, be "bioheating" fuel. Such fuel contains at least 5 percent biodiesel.
Residents opposed to the expansion said United Riverhead Terminal's plans could increase traffic and negatively impact the environment.
Councilman Tim Hubbard said at the Wednesday meeting that he had received many complaints and phone calls from concerned residents and felt that the best solution was to postpone the special-permit motion.
Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith agreed.
“I think there's a lot of issues with the resolution that need to be addressed before it's ready to be put up for a vote,” Jens-Smith said.
Among those issues, residents and board members said, is a stipulation to purchase and redevelop by eminent domain a property on Penny’s Road owned by Riverhead resident Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht. That law permits governmental entities to take private property for public use as long as the property owner is given fair compensation. Acquiring the property has been discussed to improve the ability of incoming trucks to turn onto westbound Sound Avenue from Penny’s Road.
Kaplan-Walbrecht was out of town and did not return requests for comment Friday. She threatened to move ahead with “legal remedies” if the stipulation was not pulled, according to a letter from her read at Wednesday's meeting.
Cindy Ellenbogen, a Sound Shore Road resident, told the board she had serious concerns about truck traffic increasing in the area as a result of the company’s plans to mix biofuel on-site.
“The traffic has become a nightmare and I can’t imagine adding one more truck,” Ellenbogen said.
J. Nelson Happy, vice president of United Riverhead Terminal, said Friday that the company planned to meet with the board at a work session in March to discuss and resolve all issues with the application.
“We obviously want to make everyone comfortable with the resolution,” Happy said. “Needless to say, we’re anxious to get it done as soon as possible.”