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State: LI carport poses threat to 2 species

Cars damaged by Superstorm Sandy are stored at

Cars damaged by Superstorm Sandy are stored at the Calverton Camelot Industrial Park. (Nov. 29, 2012) Credit: Doug Kuntz

Saying thousands of storm-damaged cars stored in Calverton pose a direct threat to two endangered species, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has filed notices of violation against the property owners and the Texas firm responsible for the vehicles.

The orders, filed Monday, call for the car storage operation to cease immediately and direct that "All vehicles should be removed from the identified sensitive habitat areas as soon as physically possible."

DEC officials say part of that storage area is within 1,000 feet of a known breeding pond for the endangered tiger salamander and within the grassland foraging habitat of the threatened northern harrier bird of prey.

Neither the Engel Burman Group of Garden City, which owns the property at Enterprise Park at Calverton, nor Copart USA, of Dallas, returned calls for comment.

Failing to follow the order could trigger an administrative hearing by the DEC, and violations can be deemed a misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to $2,350 per day for each endangered species on the site.

At the Burman property at Calverton, some of the cars damaged in superstorm Sandy are stored on the concrete and asphalt used when the Grumman Corp. was assembling and flying F-14 Tomcat jet fighters for the Navy. Others are kept on grass.

The Texas firm has rented 35 acres at Burman's Calverton Camelot industrial park for auto storage. Late last month, the DEC warned that the area was too close to protected wetlands. Riverhead Town is also leasing runway space it controls for storage of thousands more storm-damaged cars, but because they are all on a runway no immediate action is required, DEC officials told town officials.

A DEC spokeswoman said Friday that there had been no indication any of the cars had been removed from the Burman property and that the agency is not aware of any alternate site where those cars could be safely stored.

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