The following was sent to FuelCell Energy Corp by Linda Prizer on behalf of NBCA. The Board of Trustees met on Saturday 9/10 to respond to FuelEnergy's request that NBCA review and react to their plan to install fuel cells on the URT property.
United Riverhead Terminal withdraws Northville expansion permit plans
by Paul Squire | 04/27/2015 4:43 PM
United Riverhead Terminal owner John Catsimatidis has officially withdrawn controversial plans to expand the Northville facility’s operations.
In a fax to the Riverhead Town Board and Supervisor Sean Walter sent on Monday, Mr. Catsimatidis withdrew an application to have a special permit approved for the expansion.
URT had previous approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to build, but needed the Town Board to sign off on a special permit because of the site’s zoning.
The expansion would have converted two of the 20 oil storage tanks on the 286-acre Sound Shore Road property from fuel oil storage to gasoline storage. The proposal also called for two new 19,000 gallon tanks to store ethanol, which is blended with the gasoline.
The message from Mr. Catsimatidis didn’t address why the application was withdrawn, or what would happen next.
In an interview Monday, Mr. Catsimatidis said the permit was withdrawn because he “didn’t want to fight anybody.”
“I was glad to have met with the community members and I was glad to hear their concerns,” Mr. Castimatidis said, adding that the intention of the expansion was to create jobs and lower gas prices.
“The only thing we were doing, contrary to some of the lies that came out, was that we were going to sell gasoline to bring the prices down in Suffolk County,” he said.
He said the company would continue exploring its options and may choose to ”spend the money elsewhere,” though he didn’t rule out future attempts to expand at the Northville facility.
“We’ll resubmit a permit if a permit needs to be resubmitted,” Mr. Castimatidis said.
Neighbors, led by the Northville Beach Civic Association, had come out in force against the project at two well-attended public hearings. During the last hearing, several Town Board members said they were convinced to vote against the proposal.
The public comment period was due to end Thursday.
“We’re obviously very, very happy about this,” said Neil Krupnick, the president of the civic group.
The fight over the expansion had grown contentious in recent weeks, with the civic group and the oil terminal recently sparring over who owned a sign on the property. Mr. Krupnick said Mr. Castimatidis, town officials, and other civic leaders finally met for lunch last week to discuss the proposal.
Mr. Krupnick said the terminal owner promised to landscape the property and install a light on Sound Shore Road to alert cars of incoming freight trucks.
Those concessions, Mr. Krupnick said, ignored the more serious concerns the civic group had, such as safety and effects of the expansion on the environment.
“Putting a berm in doesn’t change the fact that it’s an expansion of a non-conforming use,” he said.
Mr. Walter, who reportedly attended the meeting, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
But while Mr. Krupnick said he was encouraged by the civic association’s defiance of the plan, he was skeptical that the withdrawal marked the end of expansion plans altogether.
“I imagine he’s going to go back to the drawing board, or … maybe he’ll figure out another way to get into the gasoline business,” Mr. Krupnick said. “They obviously lost the battle, but who knows if this is a one-battle war or if this is going to go on and on and on. If this comes back, we’ll be prepared to fight them again.”
The image on the left is United Metro Energy Corp.'s United Riverhead Terminal located in Northville, overlooking the Long Island Sound. The image on the right is one of UMEC's latest acquisitions, a partially completed biodiesel facility in Brooklyn, NY. This acquisition was followed by the acquisition of Direct Energy Business, positioning UMEC "as the largest heating oil and motor fuels distributor in the New York city metropolitan area." Today New York City, Tomorrow the North Fork.