Riverhead officials plan to reverse zoning regulations that would have allowed developers to build workforce housing at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.
Town board members said after a work session Thursday where advocates and opponents debated the issue that they will introduce a resolution next month to remove the regulations.
Supervisor Sean Walter said the discussion was intended to give the town board insight from people who have dealt with similar situations. He said he wasn’t advocating for building housing at EPCAL, but that due to the need for workforce housing in town, the board should “leave the option on the table” if a business is interested in establishing housing there in the future.
“We have to keep in mind that [EPCAL] is a regional facility,” Walter said. “The residents will benefit, but this is a regional asset, and we have to look outside the borders of Riverhead.”
The town is in negotiations with Calverton-based Luminati Aerospace LLC to purchase the remaining 2,300 developable acres for $40 million.
David Pennetta, executive director of Melville-based Cushman & Wakefield, the real estate firm hired by the town to market the EPCAL property, said that even if the deal doesn’t go through, there is potential for attracting future “large anchor employers” to EPCAL with the prospect of available housing for employees.
“What you would be doing is creating the potential for jobs,” Pennetta said.
But several town board members and residents said they oppose using the site for residential housing, citing security, noise complaints and the tax burden on school districts.
Board members Jodi Giglio and Tim Hubbard said they were concerned about those issues and worried the town could be stuck with housing units if a future business decided to close its operations and leave the EPCAL site.
“Who wants to live next to two active runways? The complaints will be incredible,” Hubbard said.
Councilman John Dunleavy said he was unconvinced allowing EPCAL housing would result in the building of more homes and would instead likely create condominiums, which he opposes.
Councilman James Wooten pointed out that allowing for housing at EPCAL would increase the site’s marketability for buyers. “For us to lose any marketability on the property is very shortsighted,” he said.