Brookhaven residents propose townwide landfill fee

The Brookhaven landfill in Yaphank. (July 5, 2011)

The Brookhaven landfill in Yaphank. (July 5, 2011) (Credit: James Carbone)

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Members of the Brookhaven landfill coalition want to put the "town" back in the town landfill, they told Supervisor Mark Lesko.

Blasting Lesko's recent proposal to add 50 feet to the height of the landfill and to extend the landfill's life -- generating millions of dollars for the cash-strapped town -- the landfill coalition members instead proposed charging town residents a $10 yearly fee for the next three years to scale back use of the landfill and to share what they consider the burden of living next to the Yaphank site.

Last month, Lesko presented to town trustees an idea to make the landfill 320 feet tall and hold an additional 3.9 million cubic yards of waste, and generate an additional $120 million in net revenue for the town.

The landfill, which also takes waste from nearby towns and New York City, has been criticized by neighbors as smelly, dusty and unsightly.

"Everyone in the town benefits from the landfill financially, but only a few suffer," said environmentalist Adrienne Esposito at a meeting Monday. "Why don't you have an emergency landfill fund?"

She compared the proposed emergency fund to fees the town has charged to cover additional snow-removal costs. A $10 landfill fee for three years would generate a couple of million, she said. "That's a way for everyone to understand the landfill and share the burden," she said.

While Lesko said he was "philosophically" against raising taxes, he put the idea on tomorrow's town board work session agenda for further discussion with the trustees.

Lesko also discussed lowering taxes for residents living near the landfill, an idea coalition members rejected.

"We believe that's the cheese in the mousetrap," Esposito said.

"We want our property values restored," said Mark Magnano, who lives near the landfill. "We don't want to be compensated for lower property values."

Lesko said he wants to hire a consultant to look at the landfill -- which generates $45 million yearly in profit for the town -- and at larger regional waste management issues.

"We understand the landfill is a regional decision. We agree with that," Esposito said.

Lesko acknowledged the landfill is a problem for local residents. "It does negatively affect the community," he said. "Nobody's denying it."

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