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Town asks court to oust cars on Speonk land

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

Southampton officials Friday plan to seek an injunction in State Supreme Court to force a business to remove about 3,500 cars, damaged by superstorm Sandy, from land in Speonk.

The cars are on four adjoining parcels, many in a dugout area previously used as a sand mine.

"The problem is that we have no way to monitor what kind of environmental damage could occur. There have been a couple of fires there already," said Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato.

The irregularly shaped parcels are identified with a collective address of 144 Old Country Rd., Speonk, although they stretch to Speonk-Riverhead Road on county tax maps. There are no actual streets dividing them.

Last Friday, Scarlato's office began a criminal proceeding against the manager of the property and Copart, a Brookhaven firm that works with insurance companies to auction cars, that the town said brought in the vehicles. Those appearance tickets are answerable in Town Justice Court on Dec. 28.

Neither officials at the firm nor their attorney could be reached for comment.

The storage of storm-damaged cars has become a problem on the East End, most recently in Riverhead, where the town board approved a $1 million contract allowing the storage of autos on the runway at its Enterprise Park at Calverton.

The land in Speonk is in the town's aquifer protection overlay district, and within an area of the pine barrens set aside for compatible growth use.

The sand mine parcel is a pre-existing, nonconforming use. The other three parcels are zoned CR-200, a residential use requiring minimum 5-acre lots. None of them can be legally used for auto storage, Scarlato said."This is not an issue for the town of Southampton to deal with," she added. "We're taking cars now from Long Beach and Wantagh and Queens . . . municipalities have to get together and address this. It's got to be a regional issue."

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