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Town Considers Limiting Truck Size On Noyac Rd.

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By Claire Walla

When it comes down to it, 10,000 pounds isn’t really that much.

Sedans, SUVs and light-duty pick-up trucks would make the cut. But, according to Southampton Town Traffic Coordinator Tom Neely, heavy-duty pick-ups, larger vans, dump trucks and tractor-trailers would have to go.

That was cause for concern for many who came to Town Hall speak out on the issue of banning vehicles over 10,000 pounds at a Southampton Town Board meeting on Tuesday, April 24.

The proposed legislation, put forth by Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, would effectively prohibit vehicles over 10,000 pounds from driving along Noyac Road between County Road 39 and the Village of Sag Harbor. A few exemptions would include school buses and vehicles doing business on Noyac Road.

The legislation was put together in an effort to further address traffic-calming measures, which have been hotly debated for years with regard to Noyac Road, specifically the curve that runs along Cromer’s Market and the Whalebone Gift Store.

Discussions have mainly revolved around road repairs, like installing a concrete median or adding striping to get cars to slow down. But at a community meeting last month, which was attended by over 100 Noyac residents and every member of the Southampton Town Board, a couple of people brought up the ban.

“We were thinking about fuel-delivery trucks, ones that seem to use [Noyac Road] as a thoroughfare rather than a delivery route,” Throne-Holst said. She added that the major threat comes from the large trucks that tend to use Noyac Road to bypass traffic on Montauk Highway, and proceed to speed through the bayside hamlet.

“There’s risk and danger for oncoming traffic,” she said. Let alone the noise factor.

“The noise is significant,” said Bill Reilly, who lives on Oak Drive near Noyac Road.  He explained that because road conditions have improved over the years, it’s effectively increased the amount of traffic caused by large trucks.  While banning all trucks over 10,000 pounds might not be the solution—Reilly admitted that vehicles prohibited from driving down Noyac Road would just travel elsewhere—he said, “we’ve got a significant problem.”

However, the legislation, as it now stands, may have some unintended consequences, as members of the Sag Harbor community pointed out on Tuesday.

“If you took the trucks off Noyac Road, my opinion is that you would also increase the speed on Noyac Road,” said Mickey Valcich of garbage-collection company Mickey’s Carting.

East Hampton Highway Supervisor Steve Lynch added that prohibiting certain vehicles from using Noyac Road would add time onto their routes, which would be costly in the long-run.

John Tintle, who owns and operates the Sand Land Corporation, which has a facility on Mill Stone Road, agreed.

“The unintended consequences passed on to the tax payers would be enormous,” she said. Tintle explained that he already charges higher prices for deliveries that are further away because of fuel costs. By averting Noyac Road, and thus adding extra time onto truck routes, he said costs would inevitably rise.

And they would not only rise for those living in Southampton Town.

Jay Card, superintendent of highways for Shelter Island, and Jim Dougherty, Shelter Island Town Supervisor, both spoke out on the issue, saying it would make commuting on and off the island for commercial trucks very difficult.

“It would essentially cause us to go all the way to East Hampton to get back to Montauk Highway,” Card said.

“We basically think that in a soft economy like this, this is no time to be burdening our residents with additional costs,” Dougherty said.

Neely explained that the town used the 10,000-pound benchmark only because it had used that measurement in the past. He further noted that this would prohibit F350 trucks and Ram 3500 trucks from taking Noyac Road.

“If this were to go forward, looking at heavier weights would be something we’d want to put out there,” he said.

The other big issue is enforcement, a topic many speakers brought up.

Neely explained that in order enforce the law, police officers would be responsible for pulling vehicles over and physically checking the inside of the passenger door, where the maximum weight is listed. Officers would also be responsible for checking any documentation the driver might have to prove he or she is making a local delivery or service call.

“You would have to put a number of vehicles on that road to do enforcement,” said Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano. “And I guarantee that once you put this into effect, you’re going to get a lot of calls [from people saying], ‘there’s a truck on Noyac Road, do something about it.’”

Throne-Holst said she recognized there were many concerns, particularly for the business community. And while she said the town does not have accurate statistics on just how many of the vehicles that drive down Noyac Road are large trucks, she suggested the town put together a study in order to secure that information.

“In the end, we need some sort of understanding of what the actual traffic looks like there,” she said, adding that this is just one component of what she hopes will be a bigger plan. “What this town needs to do is a comprehensive truck route.”

The board closed the public hearing on Tuesday, but has opened up a 30-day comment period on the proposed legislation.

Sand Land Owner Proposes Noise Study

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By Claire Walla

Residents living in close proximity to the Sand Land facility on Millstone Road in Noyac have been complaining for years that the sand and gravel processing site emits acrimonious noises, saying that the sounds that come from machines go beyond the bounds of what the site is zoned for.

However, according to John Tintle, who owns Wainscott Sand and Gravel Corporation, which runs the facility, these reports may not be accurate.

“The other day, I was 20 feet away from a pick-up truck and about 1,500 feet away from the crusher… I could hear the pick-up trick over the crusher,” Tintle recalled.

In fact, at last week’s Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting on January 19, Tintle pushed to take this a step further, adding an official assessment of the noise situation to the public record.

“A noise study’s never been done,” he said. “I would like to conduct one.”

This newest bit of evidence which is proposed to be added to the case involving the ongoing feud between Sand Land Corp. and those living near the site is expected to take months to complete, although the ZBA has tentatively scheduled to revisit the issue at its meeting on March 15.

The Southampton ZBA is tasked with addressing a formal appeal made by Noyac residents Joseph Phair, Margot Gilman and Amelia Doggwiler against a decision made by the Southampton Town Building Inspector, Michael Benincasa, last summer. Benincasa ruled in July that Sand Land is “pre-existing nonconforming” and thus is legally allowed to operate a sand mine complete with processing capabilities, and the storage and sale of mulch created from trees, brush, stumps and leaves processed onsite.

According to Zachary Murdoch, who is representing the plaintiffs, the Sand Land facility is currently engaged in activities that violate zoning code.

“What was determined ‘pre-existing nonconforming’ did not occur until 15 years after the upzoning,” Murdoch said.

The issue is centered in part on the town code, which was adopted in 1957. The plaintiffs argue that the Sand Land Corporation did not exist in its current form (i.e. processing mulch) prior to 1957, which would prohibit it from being “pre-existing, nonconforming.”

Lawyer David Eagan, who is representing David Tintle of Sand Land Corp., on the other hand, contends that the business did in fact exist prior to the adoption of the town code in 1957 and is thus doing nothing illegal.

In fact, Eagan further argues that because zoning laws changed again in 1972 — effectively creating a residential district in that area — there is even more evidence to bolster his position that Sand Land, in its current state, is “pre-existing nonconforming.”

“I think the very broad, broad definition of ‘mining activities’ and what was going on on the site… is a very key piece of evidence in our favor,” Eagan stated last week.

Last Thursday, Tintle said he would personally finance such a noise study, and at the request of Zoning Board member Keith Tuthill, he said the study would include assessments of the noise generated on the site from several different locations, even taking into account different wind directions.

“The other thing I’ll do for you,” Tintle added, “I’ll have them break it down by machine.”

“It’s not that noisy of an operation,” he said, adding that should neighbors have any complaints, “They can call me anytime — I’m always open with the neighbors.”