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Developers resubmit plans for Yaphank auto storage facility

An auto storage facilty is proposed for County

An auto storage facilty is proposed for County Route 101 in Yaphank. Credit: Morgan Campbell

The developer of a proposed Yaphank auto storage facility that was withdrawn last year in the face of opposition released a new plan on Monday that it said would address critics' concerns.

But the revised plan — including a stormwater filtration system intended to protect a nearby Suffolk County Water Authority well — failed to mollify opponents, who said they remained concerned about the project's impact on drinking water and traffic.

During a public hearing Monday before the Brookhaven Town planning board, Yaphank and Medford residents said the project, proposed for a 35.67-acre site on County Route 101, would bring too much traffic to the community.

"There are plenty of junk places in our area," said Cathy Coleman, who cited truck traffic and speeding cars in the neighborhood. "I don’t think it’s fair that we add another junk place to our community."

The project's developer, listed as NMF Holdings of Ocean Ridge, Florida, had proposed the project last year and sought approval from the planning board for a special permit for vehicle storage. Representatives of the company said the yard would store thousands of damaged or repossessed vehicles until they are sold in online auctions.

The plan was withdrawn in November after Brookhaven and water authority officials said drinking water in a nearby well could be imperiled by leaked gasoline, oil and other toxins.

At Monday's hearing, a lawyer and consultants for NMF Holdings proposed what they described as a state-of-the-art filtration system to address those concerns. They said the system would exceed town standards for such devices.

"The applicant has taken great care to avoid any impacts" to the community and water supply, said Keith Archer, a Melville attorney for NMF Holdings. The water treatment system, he said, "will be more protective of groundwater than any other similar facility near the site."

Questioned by Brookhaven planning commissioner Beth Ann Reilly and assistant town attorney Leigh Rate, NMF Holdings consultant James Neri of Melville-based H2M Architects and Engineers acknowledged the filtration system is not used elsewhere on Long Island for what he called "defensive" purposes.

"I think that’s part of the problem," Rate said. "We don’t have anything like this on Long Island."

In an interview Tuesday, Yaphank Taxpayers and Civic Association president Linda Petersen, who opposed the plan last year, said the new proposal failed to change her mind.

"I don’t think it is the highest and best use of that land," Petersen said. "We have enough auto facility storage areas out here."

Water authority spokesman Tim Motz said Tuesday the utility's position on the plan has not changed.

Last week, Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said in a statement the proposal "poses too great a risk to our environment, our drinking water and the health our residents" and should be rejected.

The planning board deferred a decision to an unspecified date.

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