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Riverhead wants lead agency status on plan to add lake at Calverton mine

Riverhead Town will make a determination on a

Riverhead Town will make a determination on a proposal to create a lake in Calverton. Credit: James Carbone

Riverhead officials plan to take the lead in determining whether a proposal from an existing sand mine operation in Calverton to build an 8.5-acre lake at the site is appropriate for the area instead of letting state officials assume that role.

The proposal comes from Southampton-based MA Mine LLC. The company wants to build the lake to a maximum depth of 89 feet below groundwater at the mine on Osborne Avenue, according to documents from Riverhead’s Land Management Department. The purpose of the lake’s construction within the permitted area is “to continue sand and gravel excavation” at the site, according to the mining permit application the company submitted in February to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The existing mine is in the town’s Agricultural Preservation Zone, but it is allowed as a pre-existing non-conforming use because the mine predates Riverhead zoning regulations.

As the lead agency, Riverhead officials would determine whether the proposed lake would cause any traffic disruptions or negative environmental or community impacts.

The DEC — which stated in a Dec. 4 letter to Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith that it wants to assume lead agency status — has given Riverhead a 30-day deadline to formally make a decision. Otherwise, the DEC will take that role and assume the town has no objection, Jeff Murphree, Riverhead's building and planning administrator, told the board at its Thursday work session.

Deputy Town Attorney Anne Marie Prudenti told the board that any potential contamination due to mining that affects the town’s water wells could expose the town to “significant liability” regarding remediation.

Jens-Smith still said the town should take the lead.

“I think there are a myriad of issues that could have serious impacts for us, and we need to get on this right away,” Jens-Smith said, adding that the board would direct Murphree to tell the DEC of the town’s decision.

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