A developer has proposed building a distribution center, called the Long Island...

A developer has proposed building a distribution center, called the Long Island Rail Terminal, seen here on May 5, on a former sand pit just east of the Brookhaven Rail Terminal warehouse complex. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

A state Supreme Court judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by the state NAACP and an environmental nonprofit that aimed to block a proposed Yaphank solid waste transfer station that would ship construction trash off Long Island by rail.

An NAACP spokesman and Farmingdale nonprofit Citizens Campaign for the Environment said they would appeal.

The Jan. 8 ruling by State Supreme Court Justice Joseph A. Santorelli, if it is upheld, would remove a potential roadblock to development of a transfer station that Brookhaven officials have said will be needed when the town landfill is closed over the next three years. 

Santorelli rejected the NAACP and Citizen Campaign's argument that the Brookhaven Town Board had erred last March 30 when it voted 6-0 to approve a site plan for part of a 350-acre industrial site at the southeast corner of the Long Island Expressway and Sills Road. Separate proposals call for the transfer station on one section of the property and a 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center on another part of the parcel.


  • State Supreme Court Justice Joseph A. Santorelli threw out a lawsuit filed by the state NAACP and Farmingdale nonprofit Citizens Campaign for the Environment that sought to block a Yaphank waste transfer station.
  • Santorelli said the Brookhaven Town Board had complied with a 2016 legal settlement that governs development of the Yaphank site.
  • NAACP and Citizens Campaign officials said they would appeal the decision.

The lawsuit claimed that the board had effectively approved the transfer station by giving the go-ahead for the distribution center.

The town board did nothing wrong, Santorelli wrote, adding that the panel's vote complied with the terms of a 2016 legal settlement that governs development of the site. He said ordering the town to perform a complete environmental review of the property, as the NAACP and Citizens Campaign lawsuit requested, "would force the town to violate the terms of the 2016 stipulation."

Town officials said in a statement Friday that the lawsuit was "groundless," adding Santorelli's decision supported the town's goal "to receive and ship products by rail rather than road-clogging and polluting trucks, which are harmful to Long Island’s environment and destructive of its roadways."

An NAACP spokesman, Michael McKeon, said the group was "not surprised [and] not deterred" by Santorelli's ruling, adding, "We were already working on our appeal.” 

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said the ruling "did not address any of the substance of the case and seemed to be a perfunctory couple of sentences.”

“It literally said nothing of substance of the meaningful part of the lawsuit,” she said, referring to the waste transfer station's potential environmental impact. Esposito has said previously a rail spur that would be part of the transfer station would cut through part of a conservation easement on the property. 

Santorelli said it was premature to consider the waste transfer station because no application for the facility has been received by town officials.

The NAACP, Citizens Campaign and several Yaphank residents had sued the town and the developers of the distribution center and transfer station last year, seeking to annul the town board vote.

The Citizens Campaign and NAACP have raised questions about the transfer station's potential impact on the health of neighboring residents.

Kansas City developer NorthPoint Development has proposed building the distribution center, called Long Island Rail Terminal, on a former sand pit just east of the Brookhaven Rail Terminal warehouse complex.

Brookhaven officials said Long Island Rail Terminal's potential tenants include Home Depot.

Separately, West Babylon-based Winters Bros. Waste Systems, which is a co-owner of Long Island Rail Terminal, has proposed the transfer station to remove up to 6,000 tons per day of construction trash by shipping it off Long Island by rail, officials have said.

Brookhaven and Winters Bros. officials have said the facility would help compensate for the planned closure of the town landfill, which will cease accepting construction waste at the end of this year.

Winters Bros. spokesman Will Flower said Friday the ruling would help advance the transfer station project.

"We need to keep [the] rail project on track for the benefit of the 2.8 million people living on Long Island," he said in an email. "The truth is that this project was fully reviewed and found to be beneficial to the local community, the county, and all of Long Island."

NorthPoint officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Supervisor Dan Panico said earlier this month the landfill, which also takes ash from incinerators, would close in 2027 or early 2028. Town officials plan to seek an extension of the landfill's operating permit, issued on July 12, 2021, which will expire on July 11, 2026. 

The landfill has been cited in recent years by federal and state authorities for violations of odor and emissions control regulations.

Community advocates have also called on the state attorney general to launch a probe into ash dumped at the Brookhaven landfill, citing a Newsday investigation that found Covanta couldn’t be sure ash it was dumping there wasn't hazardous.

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