21 Aug 2014
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Environmentalists Pitch EPCAL Land Use Map

The map spotlights areas for development and preservation.

Environmentalists Pitch EPCAL Land Use Map

East End environmental groups have come together to create and release their vision of a land use map for Enterprise Park at Calverton.

According to Pine Barrens Society Executive Director Richard Amper, three environmental groups, the Group for the East End, Long Island Pine Barrens Society and The Nature Conservancy, created the map, which designates areas they believe are suitable for economic development and others necessary to protect water and preserve critical habitat.

The purpose of the map is to guide the development of more than 600 acres to the least environmentally-sensitive portions of the property, according to a statement released by Amper Tuesday.

Another 600 acres is set aside for the recharge of groundwater aquifers in a state-designated special groundwater protection area in the Long Island Pine Barrens as well as habitat for the protection of endangered, threatened or special concern species, the release stated.

The map also shows areas already developed and other areas already preserved.

“For too long, some have suggested that EPCAL development has been blocked by environmentalists,” Amper said. “That’s never been true and it’s high time we proved it. Intelligent planning dictates that we identify the areas that must be protected before additional land is developed.”

According to the statement, local business represenatives believe the land identified for development could generate $50-70 million dollars for the Town of Riverhead, which owns the property.

“The land earmarked for preservation is required to be protected by state environmental law and has been identified as critically important for years,” said Robert DeLuca, President of Group for the East End.  "The rest is more suitable for economic development,” he added.

Anthony Coates, running for Riverhead town board in the next election and a member of the business group promoting development of EPCAL, said the development of EPCAL has taken too long; the land use map could promote wholesale economic investment in Riverhead, he added.

“Past administrations at Town Hall have been unable to get EPCAL land on the market,” said Coates. “If Riverhead and the DEC adopt this map or something like it, this will send a message that Riverhead is serious about doing business at EPCAL,” he added.  

Ray Pickerskill, president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District, added, “The future of EPCAL and the future of downtown are linked. Economic development on one area of town will necessarily encourage economic development in the other."

The environmentalists’ map was forwarded to town and state officials Tuesday.

Riverhead town board discussed the EPCAL subdivision plan as it currently stands; the layout includes 38 lots of development -- the town is down three, Supervisor Sean Walter said -- with 610 acres of development proposed, 1550 acre of preserved land, and 495 acres of existing grassland preserved. The plan would eliminate lots on the southwest portion of the westerly runway and preserve most of the easterly runway.

In addition, the plan retains the lots on Route 25, and allows for not only the 495 acres of existing grassland but for 65 additional acres by clearing acres the DEC has said are available for such an option.

"We've done what we can do," Walter said. "I"m stunned at this point we're down from 800 acres of development to 600." The DEC, he added, "needs to be somewhat accomodating."

Walter did not immediately return a call for comment about the environmentalists' map.

 

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