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Oyster Bay residents complain about town's highway yard

From left to right: Neighbors and Mill Neck

From left to right: Neighbors and Mill Neck residents Carol Dohoney, 59, Ray Hornosky, 82, Paul Neuhaus, 49, and Mary Hornosky, 79, stand near their homes on Lake Avenue next to the adjacent Town of Oyster Bay Highway Department's Lake Avenue Yard. The group says a new cell tower and increased construction in the public works yard have damaged their adjacent homes. (Jan. 16, 2014) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Oyster Bay hamlet residents who live next to a town highway yard say the facility has become a bad neighbor.

Lake Avenue homeowners say periodic construction at the site has brought unwelcome noise and vibration that they say has caused some of their homes and foundations to crack, property to slump and underground pipes to be replaced.

They also say that since fuel storage tanks and pumps were installed several years ago, more vehicles than ever are using the site and over longer hours.

Town spokeswoman Marta Kane said that since the maintenance facility was created in the mid-1950s, "all work performed at the yard has been done in accordance with necessary regulations." She said that included the current construction of a containment pad to catch any runoff when mixing salt and sand. She said that work was ordered by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Kane said the town has performed seismic monitoring and determined the vibration on nearby residential properties is within what it regards as acceptable limits. Kane said the town has no further construction planned after the containment pad is completed and the rest of the yard is repaved. Town officials say they have offered to meet with residents to try to address the neighborhood's concerns.

Some homeowners say activities at the yard have affected their homes and property values.

"They have impacted the value of my property immensely," said 10-year resident Carol Dohoney, as she pointed out cracks in the ceiling and wall seams of her home that she attributes to the yard. "It's also impacted my health with all the stress."

Dohoney said basement flooding and other problems she also blames on the yard have become so bad that she asked the town in a recent letter to buy her property. Dohoney said that, after residents went to a town board meeting for the second time to complain several years ago, the highway commissioner met with them and put up a screening fence and repaved Lake Avenue.

She and her neighbors say they have no plans to leave, but they want the ongoing construction that begins before 7 a.m. and the noise that goes with it to cease.

They also say they are worried about the yard contaminating the adjacent Mill River. Dohoney said she has contacted the DEC to ask about the condition of the stream. A DEC spokeswoman said there is no record of pollution at the site.

"I want to stay here," said Paul Neuhaus, a 31-year resident of the neighborhood who said he's had "a couple of cracks" in his house that he attributes to work in the yard. "I just want them to be more quiet and do a better job of protecting the environment."

Ray Hornosky, who moved into a house next to the yard in 1963, said since new fuel pumps for town vehicles were installed several years ago, "it seems like there are more trucks coming in and out now . . . 24 hours a day."

Hornosky said settling of the ground -- which the neighbors attribute to the maintenance yard and some of the homes having been built on fill in the 1930s -- has broken some natural gas pipes. He said "the street has been dug up at least eight to 10 times within the last 10 or 11 years."

The town and National Grid had no comment on the pipes. On a recent day last week, traffic cones marked where one section of the road had apparently been dug up.

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