Department of Environmental Conservation

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Riverhead, Town of

September 30, 2003


Applicant: Town of Riverhead
200 Howell Avenue
Riverhead, New York 11901-2596
Dawn C. Thomas, Town Attorney
(631) 727-3200

Project Description: The Town of Riverhead seeks an amendment to the Peconic River's Wild, Scenic & Recreational River (WSRR) boundary line at the former naval weapons industrial reserve plant in Calverton (NWIRP). Within the fenced area at NWIRP Calverton, 186 acres of land are currently regulated by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC or Department) pursuant to the regulations contained in Part 666 of Title 6 of the New York Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations (6 NYCRR) - Regulation for Administration and Management of the Wild, Scenic and Recreational River System in New York State (Environmental Conservation Law [ECL] Article 15, Title 27).

Upon the adoption of the proposed scenic river boundary amendment, a portion of the area currently regulated and which is dominated by existing development including buildings, roads and other infrastructure would be removed from within the scenic river corridor. Instead, a primarily natural area, comprised of woodlands, wetlands, and other natural habitat areas, would be added to lands included within the proposed scenic river corridor. The total area within the fenced area at NWIRP which would be regulated under the WSRR regulations, after approval of the boundary amendment, would increase by 25 acres to a total of 211 acres.

The Town maintains that in the preparation of the Central Pine Barrens Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the State of New York, Suffolk County, and the Riverhead Town Board agreed that the scenic river boundary does not reflect federal redevelopment mandates. These agencies also found that constraints posed by the existing boundary do not further protection of river values as identified in the Wild, Scenic and Recreational River System Act (WSRRSA) found in ECL Article 15, Title 27. Furthermore, in the Findings issued pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA - ECL Article 8) by the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission in 1995, the Commission supported the amendment of the scenic river boundary based on two provisions. The first provision was that a local river management plan be prepared pursuant to 6 NYCRR § 666.7. The second provision was that the river management plan be based on plans to upgrade the existing wastewater treatment plant infrastructure at Calverton Enterprise Park to better protect river resources and the adoption by the Town of a Planned Development District (PDD) for Calverton Enterprise Park which was consistent with the Central Pine Barrens Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the Standards and Guidelines for Land Use contained within the Central Pine Barrens Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

The Town seeks a reconfiguration of the scenic river boundary in accordance with the Town's amended zoning regulations. In February 2001, the Town adopted a river management plan that addresses this proposed boundary change. The Town revised this draft river management plan in August 2002.

The Town's goals and objectives in seeking this amendment are:

(1) to reconfigure the regulated area to better protect river resources in general and rare and endangered species in particular (tiger salamander);

(2) to create a scenic river area more consistent with locally adopted land use plans and zoning amendments;

(3) to insure the viability of the economic redevelopment within the fence at NWIRP Calverton pursuant to congressional mandate;

(4) to create a scenic river area more consistent with existing land use patterns, improvements and infrastructure.

DEC Staff's Position: Department staff supports this amendment.

Applicable Law and Regulation: This Part 666 proposed amendment application is being processed by DEC staff pursuant to ECL Article 3, Title 3 (General Functions), Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) Article 15 (Protection of Waters), and Part 624 (Permit Hearing Procedures).

SEQRA Status: As stated above, the SEQRA findings issued on June 12, 1995 by the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission supported the scenic river boundary amendment based upon the conditions described above.

On March 26, 1996, the U.S. Navy published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register announcing that it would prepare a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to study the impacts of transfer of the NWIRP property to the Town of Riverhead and its subsequent reuse and redevelopment. The Town of Riverhead, as lead agency, adopted and utilized the NEPA GEIS to meet its obligations under SEQRA pursuant to 6 NYCRR § 617.15. The Town conducted a joint SEQRA/NEPA review in cooperation with the Navy. In March 1997, the Navy issued a Draft GEIS. Public hearings and comment periods on the GEIS were conducted from March through May 1997. In December 1997, a Final GEIS was issued by the Navy. The Town formally adopted the Final GEIS on February 5, 1998.

In 1998, the Town issued SEQRA findings on the GEIS and completed its review of the amendment to its Master Plan for the reuse of NWIRP property. In sections 6.2.2 and 6.2.4 of the Final GEIS, the applicability of the WSRRA to the site is discussed. In these sections of the GEIS, the Town noted that much of the development proposed within the Reuse Plan would not be able to occur within the existing Scenic River boundaries, implying that a boundary change would be needed in order to allow for development in some of those areas. The Final GEIS also referenced the Findings issued by the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission. The Final GEIS noted that provided a river management plan was prepared that contained the appropriate provisions concerning wastewater treatment and land use standards, the scenic river boundary could be relocated to allow development to occur in currently restricted areas. These sections of the Final GEIS also provided that the Reuse Plan for the Calverton NWIRP site propose a new sewage treatment plant to which existing and future development within the NWIRP would be connected and that this new sewage treatment plant be located outside of the Peconic River watershed and the scenic river boundary. The subsequent SEQRA Findings adopted by the Town stated that all individual uses on the NWIRP site would be required to connect to a sewage treatment plant and all development within the scenic river corridor would be required to conform to the standards of the WSSRA. These SEQRA Findings also concluded that the Town would need to adopt a PDD zone for the industrial core section of the NWIRP site, in which the most significant aspect of the scenic river boundary change is to occur, and that this PDD would have to incorporate the provisions of the Central Pine Barrens plan requirements which reference the WSSRA and provide that all applicable projects are required to conform with the WSSRA.

On September 23, 2003, as lead agency, Department staff completed its SEQRA review of the proposed re-mapping and determined that it would have no significant environmental impacts. As part of this review, staff completed a long form environmental assessment form. Staff made a determination of non-significance on September 24, 2003.

The application materials are available for review at the following locations between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday:

(1) NYSDEC Office of Hearings and Mediation Services, 625 Broadway, 1st Floor, Albany, NY 12233-1550. Contact: Administrative Law Judge Helene G. Goldberger at (518) 402-9003;

(2) NYSDEC Region 1 Office, Building 40, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, Long Island, New York 11790-2356. Contact: John Pavacic in the Division of Environmental Permits at (631) 444-0365;

(3) Town of Riverhead Town Clerk's Office, 200 Howell Avenue, Riverhead, New York. Contact: Barbara Grattan at (631) 727-3200 (ext. 260).

(4) Riverhead Free Library, 330 Court Street, Riverhead, New York 11901 Contact: Susan Bergmann, Reference Coordinator at (631) 727-3228.

Written Comments: All written comments about the proposed amendment must be received by November 21, 2003, and sent to John Pavacic at: NYSDEC Region 1, DEP, Building 40, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11790-2356.

Public Hearings Session

Legislative Public Hearing: A legislative hearing session to receive unsworn statements from the public on the application, described above, will be held before Administrative Law Judge Helene G. Goldberger at 7:00 p.m. on November 17, 2003 at the Riverhead Town Hall, 200 Howell Avenue, Riverhead, New York. All persons, organizations, corporations, or government agencies which may be affected by the proposed amendment are invited to attend the hearing and to submit oral and written comments. It is not necessary to file in advance to speak at the legislative hearing. Lengthy statements should be in writing and summarized for oral presentation. Reasonable time limits may be set for each speaker to afford everyone an opportunity to be heard. Equal weight will be given to both oral and written statements. The hearing location is fully accessible to persons with a mobility impairment. Interpreter services shall be made available to deaf persons at no charge upon written request to the ALJ, identified above, at least 10 days prior to the hearing, pursuant to the State Administrative Procedures Act.

James T. McClymonds
Chief Administrative Law Judge

September 30, 2003

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