A portion of the site on Feb. 7, 2020, as seen from the adjoining property to the east. Photo: Denise Civiletti

A hearing on the draft environmental impact statement for an asphalt and concrete crushing facility on Middle Road will continue before the Riverhead Planning Board tomorrow night, as the board seeks answers to questions about the proposed operation and the status of violation notice issued to the developer by the State DEC.

The Department of Environmental Conservation issued a Notice of Violation Oct. 26 to the Syosset-based developer, Breezy Hill Group VI, and a related company, Roadwork Ahead, for allegedly operating a solid waste management facility and for the unauthorized disposal of solid waste at the 6.7-acre site in Calverton. The notice also cites the alleged violation of a March 21, 2018 consent order entered between the owners and the DEC, which required the owner to cease unauthorized operations and remove all waste from the site by July 20, 2018.

The town’s environmental consultant Jeffrey Seeman brought the notice of violation to the planning board’s attention during the DEIS hearing at the board’s last meeting on Nov. 4.

Seeman said the materials the DEC ordered removed were still on site as of a site visit he made Nov. 1.

Since the planning board is the lead agency for review of the project, it has oversight for all of the other involved agencies, including the DEC, Seeman said. As lead agency, the board has responsibility to determine whether the project is in compliance with DEC regulations, because if it’s not, Seeman said, “then that would by itself create an impact because it would be inconsistent with the standards that the state has set.”

The DEC acknowledged it issued an Oct. 26 notice of violation to the applicant relating to the alleged operation of a solid waste management facility without a permit, the alleged unauthorized disposal of solid waste and the alleged violation of a March 21, 2018 DEC consent order.

“DEC is committed to holding parties responsible for violations of the state’s stringent environmental requirements,” the agency said in a statement. “Civil penalties for these violations range can range from up to $22,500 for each such violation, and an additional penalty of not more than $22,500 for each day the violation continues,” DEC said. It declined comment on ongoing enforcement actions.

The 6.7-acre site in Calverton where a an asphalt and concrete crushing and screening facility is planned. Image : Google Earth

The town also cited the applicant for alleged code violations, including land-clearing the land without a permit, clearing with a required buffer adjacent to a residential use, Seeman noted. He also said the code does not allow importation of material without a town permit.

Steven Losquadro, attorney for Breezy Hill, did not respond to requests for comment.

Seeman reviewed the DEIS in detail, noting, among other things: inconsistencies he found between statements in the DEIS and statements made by the applicant in other documents, including some filed with the DEC; certain inaccurate statements in the document that need to be corrected, such as a statement that the site is within the Riverhead Water District; and issues that require further review and detail, such as noise impacts, potential groundwater impacts, water supply for fire protection and traffic impacts assessed during the summer when Splish Splash is operating.

The site and surrounding homes are not within the town’s water district and private wells in the area have been found to be impacted with various contaminants, prompting DEC to provide bottled water to some homes and the town to seek grant funding for a water district extension.

Jamesport resident Barbara Blass said the applicant sought approval from the town for a concrete crushing facility, which was later expanded to include processing of asphalt and earth.

“We now know the operation goes well beyond those activities,” Blass said. “The engineering report supplied by the applicant for the required DEC Part 360 permits states, ‘Pending approval, the facility will operate as a construction and demolition debris handling recovery facility that accepts concrete, asphalt, rock, brick and soil for processing of mulch and RCA for sale…’ That same report also makes reference to other transfer station-related activities. The zoning is very clear that transfer stations are not a permitted use,” Blass said.

She questioned why this information was not provided to the Zoning Board of Appeals when the applicant sought a code interpretation on whether the use was permitted. The ZBA’s determination was based on limited — and incomplete — information, Blass said.

“As the lead agency, is it in your purview to ask the ZBA for further clarification that a C and D recycling and processing facility, including the sale of processed materials, is permitted by town code at this location,” Blass asked.

The town is currently undergoing a comprehensive plan update, Blass noted, and has the opportunity to examine the extent of industrial zoning in Calverton and the kinds of uses allowed. “Definitive language on uses, such as solid waste management facilities, should be specifically addressed in our code, so that these uses don’t find their way into our town because of vague language.” It’s in everyone’s best interests to have “clear and predictable” language in the code to address what uses are required or not.

The applicant’s environmental planner asked for three to four weeks to confer with the applicant’s attorney and gather additional information for the planning board.

The board decided to keep the hearing open and continue it on Dec. 2. The hearing will resume at 7 p.m. on that date.

The purpose of a hearing on a DEIS is to gather public comment on the draft impact statement, which will be added to comments from involved agencies. The comments are then summarized by the planning board for the applicant to address in its response. The comments and the responses together comprise the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which once approved by the lead agency forms the basis for a findings statement and, in turn, the agency’s final decision.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.