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Islandia homeowners, vets settle suit over dumping of tainted fill

The Veterans Way subdivision in Islandia is seen

The Veterans Way subdivision in Islandia is seen on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Homeowners at an Islandia development for veterans settled two civil suits on Tuesday against those who built their homes, where Suffolk authorities say contaminated fill was dumped as part of a broad scheme.

The suits named the Long Island Builders Institute; its charitable arm, Long Island Home Builders Care Development Corp.; three institute directors; and nine companies involved in the construction and development, claiming they should have known illegal dumping was occurring as the homes were being built.

Under the settlement, Long Island Home Builders Care agreed to lift deed restrictions on the properties that were intended to keep the families from immediately selling their homes, which were built as part of a charitable project to provide affordable housing for returning veterans.

The homeowners also will receive $10,000 to reimburse them for the testing they did of the contaminated fill, which contained hydrocarbons, pesticides and metals. It was removed in two phases, with 1,860 cubic yards removed from a berm in December 2014 and 44 tons dug up from the rear and side yards of the six homes and trucked to Pennsylvania for disposal last year. Cleanup was completed in December.

“While we do not believe in any way we were guilty of any actions involved in this situation, we are pleased that we were able to reach a settlement with all concerned,” said Mitchell Pally, chief executive of both LIBI and the charity.

Peter Creedon, the Northport attorney who represented the five families who brought the suits, said he was satisfied with the outcome.

“I feel that it made the children safe and it gave the parents the economic flexibility necessary for them to protect their families as best they can,” he said.

The Veterans Way development is one of four sites where the Suffolk County district attorney’s office has said illegal dumping occurred.

Six men and four companies were indicted in December 2014 in connection with the dumping, which authorities said also took place at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, a one-acre vacant lot in Central Islip and a state-protected wetlands area in Deer Park.

Two of those men — former Long Island Home Builders Care president Thomas Datre Sr. and his son, Thomas Datre Jr., whom prosecutors have called the “mastermind” of the accused dumping scheme — and four Datre family companies currently are on trial.

The rest — former Islip Town Parks Commissioner Joseph J. Montuori Jr. and his former executive secretary Brett Robinson, Islandia Recycling’s Christopher Grabe and Atlas Asphalt’s Ronald Cianciulli — await trial.

The settlement does not affect ongoing civil actions the homeowners have filed against the Datres and their companies, as well as Atlas Asphalt, Islandia Recycling, and L-C Real Estate Group, the owner of the Central Islip lot.

Attorneys for those defendants have denied the claims in the suits.

So far, one of the Veterans Way homes has been listed for sale, while Pally said the homeowners at 4 Veterans Way, who did not join the suit, have opted to sell the home back to Long Island Home Builders Care for $238,000.

In exchange, the nonprofit plans to sell the owners another affordable home to be built in Centereach, he said.

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