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Riverhead suing DEC over permit impasse that threatens $40M EPCAL sale

Riverhead's petition lists several reasons why the state

Riverhead's petition lists several reasons why the state Department of Conservation's determination on what entity should provide water at the Enterprise Park at Calverton should be "annulled, vacated and stricken." Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Riverhead Town has started litigation against the state Department of Environmental Conservation to overturn the agency’s determination that a key permit the town needs to sell the Enterprise Park at Calverton property cannot be granted due to confusion over who can supply public water to the property.

The town filed a notice of petition against the DEC on March 17 in state Supreme Court in Albany County.

The issue revolves around a decision by the DEC in November 2020 to deem incomplete Riverhead’s application for a Wild-Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act permit. Approval is necessary for the town to complete an 8-lot subdivision at the EPCAL site for a pending $40 million sale of about 1,600 acres to venture group Calverton Aviation and Technology. The agency told the town that its application will not be deemed complete unless Riverhead designates the Suffolk County Water Authority as the provider of public water to the proposed subdivision, the court documents state.

Riverhead officials have said they oppose the Suffolk agency providing water to the subdivision. Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said in an April 1 interview that the DEC’s request for the town to do so was "inappropriate."

"To us, it’s a strong-arm tactic," Aguiar said. "They know we need the subdivision, they know we need economic development that comes with the subdivision, so they made the claim and now it’s before a judge."

The town’s petition lists several reasons why the agency’s determination on Riverhead’s application should be "annulled, vacated and stricken." Among them is that the DEC has "consistently recognized the Riverhead Water District as the water provider for all of EPCAL."

The petition further states that the town’s water district is already providing public water to the property’s core area industrial park, the Peconic Care Center, the Stony Brook Incubator and other improved areas within the property.

A 2009 letter the water authority sent to the state opposed Riverhead’s application for a public water supply permit to extend its district boundaries to the EPCAL subdivision. The authority claimed at the time that the area was within its assigned service territory.

In a statement issued April 8, DEC spokeswoman Erica Ringewald said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

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