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Residents concerned over planned Holtsville solid waste site

Fran Lunati, one of the organizers of a

Fran Lunati, one of the organizers of a grassroots community group calling itself "Stop the Furrows Road Project" introduces speakers Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2018 at the Holbrook fire house at a meeting to oppose the transfer of municipal waste to rail cars at an asphalt mining plant at 615 Furrows Road in Holtsville. Hundreds of residents attended the meeting. Photo Credit: Chuck Fadely

A proposed Furrows Road transfer site that would accept, process and transfer hundreds of tons of solid waste has riled many of its potential neighbors in Holbrook and Holtsville.

Green Rail Transfer of Queensbury in upstate New York filed an application with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to work with Railroad Realty Corp., based at 615 Furrows Rd., to operate a transfer site there. The application was filed in October 2015, and the DEC’s public comment period is now extended to Feb. 10.

At an informational meeting Wednesday at the Holbrook Fire Department, hundreds of attendees — many from the nearby gated community The Colony at Holbrook — voiced concerns about pollution, heavy traffic and potential vermin infestation from the presence of solid waste, and planned to petition local elected officials and the DEC.

“We need to get busy very quickly,” said Don Urquhart of Holbrook.

In a statement, a DEC spokeswoman said the agency would “carefully review” the residents’ concerns before deciding whether to issue a permit for the site. “DEC will carefully review and consider all of the comments and concerns received before making a final determination about issuing a permit for this project at the end of the public comment period,” the statement said.

The application is for a one-year renewable permit for the DEC to examine the viability of the material that Green Rail Transfer uses to package solid waste. The site will process and transfer the waste to be moved from flatbed trucks to rail cars bound for Virginia. According to the application, the site would operate from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, handling up to 900 tons per day.

Last year, the DEC fined the owner of the Furrows Road property $700,000 and issued a cleanup order after the discovery of sand mining and solid waste dumping. At the time, the DEC identified the property owner as the Joan Ciardullo Trust and Estate of Albert Ciardullo.

The current application to the DEC states that Railroad Realty Corp., under principal William J. Fehr Sr., is also located at 615 Furrows Rd. The DEC statement said “past violations at the adjacent site were addressed via an administrative Consent Order, and are not directly related to the proposed activity.”

Fehr’s lawyer, Stephen Pinks, of Hauppauge, said that his client doesn’t own 615 Furrows Rd. and was not the subject of the DEC violation.

“They don’t own . . . the subject parcel, and they didn’t dig the hole there, so they have nothing to do with it,” Pinks said.

He also said the development would not exacerbate traffic and pollution. “I don’t believe there’s going to be pollution, and heavy traffic, as far I’m concerned, is a red herring, because traffic isn’t going to go past The Colony,” Pinks said.

Suffolk County Legis. William J. Lindsay III (D-Bohemia) has called on the state attorney general to investigate the application, and has scheduled a public hearing on Feb. 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the county legislature building at 725 Veterans Memorial Hwy. Lindsay noted that he grew up in Holbrook and said of the proposed solid waste site: “I do not want to see this happen.”

Along with state Sen. Al Graf (R-Holbrook), state Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) said at the meeting they would “put pressure on [the DEC] to deny this application.”

Pinks said he had not been informed of the Feb. 1 public hearing and did not know yet if Fehr would attend.

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