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Officials want Hauppauge asphalt plant to reduce odors

State environmental officials have recommended owners of a Hauppauge asphalt plant raise the height of its stack and patch building cracks to cut down on odors, following years of complaints from neighbors about the fumes.

Suffolk Asphalt Supply Inc. says it plans to comply with the recommendation .

At the same time, Islip deputy attorney Erin Sidaras and Councilman John Edwards said the town might seek an injunction to shut down the plant after the town zoning board ruled the plant never had a building permit or certificate of occupancy and never conformed to existing zoning. Suffolk Asphalt is appealing the zoning board ruling.

Neighbors, who testified at a recent town board meeting, have complained for years about odors coming from the plant. The plant, operated by tenant Intercounty Asphalt, has paid $50,000 in fines since 2007 for violating state laws on air contamination, and has since put in equipment to capture particulates. In citing the plant in 2007, the state DEC had said that the fumes emitted from the plant were harmful to human health.

"The smell is so bad, and is polluting our homes," said Christina Paino, who lives on Kings Court, just northwest of the plant. "You have children with asthma here, and you can't use your decks or pools. We can't even open a window."

Department of Environmental Conservation officials performed an on-site inspection Tuesday. They said preliminary testing showed no particulates in the air, and they believe the higher smoke stack will remedy the odor problem by dispersing fumes at a higher altitude.

"We intend to submit a plan for the new stack to the DEC within 15 days as requested, and once the plans are approved, it should take about one month to build," Suffolk Asphalt said through attorney James Rigano of Melville.

Suffolk Asphalt applied in 2008 to Islip's Zoning Board of Appeals to establish legal nonconforming use of the facility, built in 1958. It also asked for a variance to tear down the existing structure and erect a modern facility it said would remedy the odor problem. The company told the zoning board its facility mixed asphalt, but did not manufacture it, an activity specifically prohibited in that industrial zone since 1957.

In March 2009, the zoning board denied the application, ruling the facility was an asphalt manufacturing plant.

While an adjoining parcel merged with the lot in 2002 holds a certificate of occupancy, the asphalt plant was constructed without a building permit and has never had a certificate of occupancy, the zoning board said.

Suffolk Asphalt appealed the zoning ruling in April 2009 in Suffolk County Supreme Court. Town officials said the court would likely decline to make a ruling on any request for an injunction to close the plant until the appeal is resolved.

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