Residents Voice Opposition to Biofuel Plan by United Riverhead Terminal
by Denise Civiletti (Riverhead Local) A proposal by United Riverhead Terminal to install six tanks for storing 108,000 gallons of biofuel at its Northville facility drew intense opposition from residents of the surrounding area during a public hearing at Riverhead Town Hall last night.
United Riverhead Terminal, owner and operator of the petroleum storage facilities and offshore platform in Northville since 2012, says it seeks to add the biofuel storage tanks at the facility in order to comply with a state law requiring heating oil wholesalers to sell heating oil blended with 5-percent biofuel as of July 1.
The biofuel would be blended with heating oil as well as diesel fuel at the facility’s dispensing racks.
The facility was constructed before zoning was adopted by the Town of Riverhead in 1965 and as such operates as a pre-existing, non-conforming use. It has since been zoned residential. As such, the addition of new storage tanks is considered an expansion of a pre-existing, non-conforming use and requires a special permit from the town board.
The special permit was the subject of last night’s hearing, which filled the town hall meeting room with residents.
Building and Planning administrator Jefferson Murphree said the decision about whether the application represents a new use or an expansion of a pre-existing, non-conforming use is made by the zoning officer, Brad Hammond and he has decided it was an expansion of a pre-existing, non-conforming use.
He (Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition president Phil Barbato) and other speakers brought up URT’s 2014 application to site two 19,000-gallon tanks to store ethanol at the site, which the company said it intended to use for gasoline it planned to begin storing at distributing from the site.
The facility was previously used for gasoline storage and distribution until roughly the year 2000, general manager Scott Kamm said in 2014.
That application also met with stiff opposition from residents, civic and environmental groups.
(URT attorney Nelson) Happy said the company would covenant that the six new tanks it seeks to build now would never be used for any product besides biofuel.
But residents expressed the fear that an approval for the new tanks would lead to the company seeking additional expansions. READ MORE