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Brookhaven to developer: Clean up old duck farm before building

An old duck farm on Barnes Road in

An old duck farm on Barnes Road in Moriches, seen here on Tuesday, is the site of a proposed storage facility. Credit: James Carbone

A former Moriches duck farm that officials say has been used as an illegal dump may be turned into a self-storage facility — but first the property must be cleaned up.

Brookhaven Town officials in January approved a zoning change allowing the construction of seven self-storage buildings and a 20,400-square-foot outdoor storage area on the 9-acre property on Barnes Road, south of Sunrise Highway.

The approval had been granted to Eastport developer Kenneth J. Cartalemi, who proposed the project last year. Cartalemi, 70, died on March 5 from cancer, said his son, also named Kenneth.

The younger Cartalemi said Monday he would carry on his father’s project and plans to meet with lawyers this week to discuss the plan.

“That’s what he wanted to do, was keep getting the project done, so that’s what we’re working on,” Cartalemi said.

Before he died, the elder Cartalemi had been cited by town officials for a raft of zoning and town code violations, such as storing heavy equipment on the site. Those charges are pending in Sixth District Court in Patchogue.

The zoning change could be withdrawn if the property is not cleaned up, town officials said. In addition to debris left on the property, the land contains nitrogen deposits left from decades of duck effluent, Councilman Dan Panico said.

Panico said the town approved the zoning change because officials believe the self-storage facility would be a better use of the property than houses or condominiums.

“We wanted to not only clean up the site but put forward a use that is rather innocuous, create a tax base for all taxing jurisdictions and [have] something that would fit in with the area,” Panico said. “We are still going to pursue any violations on the property until the property is cleared.”

The elder Cartalemi had agreed to set aside a 3-acre section of the property to be preserved as open space along Swift Stream, which feeds the Forge River.

That wasn’t enough to satisfy some opponents of the project. MaryAnn Johnston, president of the Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization, an umbrella group of civic associations, said material dumped on the property could harm the waterways.

“It’s very hard for me to believe they want to do anything to help the Forge River,” Johnston said. “What you pave over doesn’t go away. You have to clean it up to make it go away.”

But the plan drew support from Beth Wahl, president of the Mastic-Shirley Chamber of Commerce, who said the facility would not be nearly as offensive as the duck farm that used to occupy the site.

“My nose still remembers,” she said of the farm. “It was awful, awful, awful.”

“Anything is better than what was there before,” Wahl said. “I can’t imagine it’s going to create any issues there at all.”

Brookhaven Town officials say the developer of a proposed self-storage facility in Moriches must do the following before completing developing the site as a storage facility:

— Submit plans for review by the local community.

— Clean up the site, including removing metal and tin shacks from the shuttered duck farm.

— Plant evergreen trees and build a berm along Barnes Road.

— Transfer a 3-acre section along Swift Stream to the town, to preserve it as open space and protect the river from runoff.

— Pay a $477,750 “mitigation fee” for the purchase of other properties for open space preservation.

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