An application for the controversial Green Rail Transfer project on Furrows Road in Holbrook — which has drawn sharp criticism from the community and Islip Town — has been withdrawn, mostly because of that opposition, the company’s president said.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation had been reviewing the request for a one-year renewable permit filed in October 2015 by Green Rail Transfer Inc., of upstate Queensbury, to work with Railroad Realty Corp., based at 615 Furrows Rd., to operate a transfer site there. Solid waste, at a maximum of 900 tons per day, would have been packaged and shipped from the hamlet to Virginia on flatbed trucks and rail cars.
The DEC confirmed the application was withdrawn on Tuesday.
Michael Borgos, president of Green Rail Transfer, said in an email that “site considerations were the reason for the withdrawal, and chief among them was the widespread opposition.”
Borgos said he does not expect to file an amended plan to the DEC for the project and does not anticipate being involved in the Furrows Road site in the future. In a statement, the DEC said it has “ceased” its review now that the application has been withdrawn.
Another contributing factor “further complicating the evaluation of the situation” was that Jim Heil had once been the lead engineer at Cashin & Associates several years ago when Green Rail explored plans with the Town of Islip, Borgos said. Heil is now Islip’s commissioner of environmental control and would have been integral to the approval process at the town level. While Heil has said he would recuse himself from any votes on the project, Borgos said the “uncertainty of how the town would address that and process it, coupled with the elected leaders’ clear message of opposition, indicated substantial hurdles at the town level.”
Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter and other town board members had assured concerned residents at town board meetings that they were vehemently against the project and that the town had written a letter to the DEC expressing its aversion to the proposal at that site.
Dozens of residents, some members of a grassroots community group that dubbed itself “Stop the Furrows Road Project,” spoke out against the proposal at public hearings and at several Islip Town Board meetings. A hearing in February hosted by Suffolk County Legis. William Lindsay (D-Bohemia), a detractor himself, drew hundreds who voiced concerns over pollution, odors and heavy traffic.
Tricia Fenty, 48, who said she lives 250 feet from the site and has been part of grass-roots efforts, said that while the community is “grateful” that Green Rail has pulled out, residents will continue to fight for environmental policy reform to protect their neighborhood from future activities they may feel could be harmful to their neighborhood.
“The community definitely will be watching everything from here on out,” Fenty said.