Tag Archive | "sand land"

Tintle Says Sand Land Has Long and Legal History

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By Stephen J. Kotz

To hear John Tintle tell it, the neighbors of his Sand Land mine, composting and recycling facility in Noyac simply want to make his business go away to increase their own property values.

“They don’t like it that we’re here,” he said on Friday, while giving a tour of the deep pit, where grinding machines and screeners process mountains of sand and gravel for the manufacture of the concrete used for roads and foundations; stumps and branches for compost and top soil used in landscaping; and construction debris for things like driveway bases. “Yet they all need what we sell.”

Those neighbors, and many other residents of Sag Harbor, Noyac, and Bridgehampton, as well as elected officials and environmentalists turned out last week in a bid to have the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation deny Sand Land’s request for an expansion of its mining permit—or at the very least require that an environmental impact statement be done to protect the groundwater and reduce the potential for other environmental harm at the site. That hearing is covered separately in this issue.

But Bob DeLuca, the president of the Group for the East End, who was among those who is calling for a DEIS, said “the idea you would not do a comprehensive environmental review would be laughable if it were not so disconcerting.” He criticized the DEC for not planning to hold a hearing on the matter until the public pressured it to do so.

He pointed out that sand mining only makes up a portion of the activity at the site—although Mr. Tintle says it accounts for about two-thirds of his business—and said environmentalists are more concerned about mulching, composting and construction debris recycling.

Sand Land sits atop the aquifer and chief among the concerns of Mr. DeLuca and other environmentalists is the potential for groundwater pollution.  He cites a DEC investigation of the Long Island Composting site on Horseblock Road in Yaphank, released in 2013, which showed sharply higher levels of manganese emanating from the site. As a result, Long Island Composting has agreed to build an indoor composting operation on a concrete pad with runoff contained on site.

“It’s kind of crazy to think of all the work we did to get rid of the landfills” in New York State, he said. “And then to allow an industrial waste site to continue operating” with no additional oversight.

“In my mind, projects like this over time should probably be amortized,” Mr. DeLuca said. “These places are grenades waiting to explode.”

The trouble for Sand Land—and Wainscott Sand and Gravel, which operates the 50-acre site off Millstone Road and Middle Line Highway, in the shadow of the exclusive Bridge golf club—began in 2005. A group of three neighbors, with financial backing from Robert Rubin, the golf club’s owner, sued. They sought to have the site declared a nuisance and shut down because of, among other things, its odor, noise and the hundreds of large dump trucks that rumble onto and off the site each day. The opposition came, Mr. Tintle said, despite the fact that the mine has been there for more than 50 years—and provided much of the sand used for fill when the World’s Fair was held at Flushing Meadows, Queens, in 1964—and was opened when the land was zoned for industrial uses and the nearest house was a quarter mile away.

The result of that suit was a protracted battle between Mr. Tintle and Southampton Town. In 2011, the town’s chief building inspector, Michael J. Benincasa, issued a certificate of occupancy that recognized that the mine was operating before 1972 when the town changed the zoning from industrial to residential. It also legalized the compost and mulch processing at the site. The neighbors, who had sued, Margo Gilman, Joseph Phair, and Amelia Doggwiler (who replaced Robert Flood, an original petitioner, after he sold his house), appealed the issuance of that C.O. to the town Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Z.B.A., in turn, “wanted to make everyone happy,” according to Mr. Tintle. “They wanted to split the baby in half.” In 2012, the ZBA ruled that while the sand mine was legal, the other activities were not, and ordered them shut down. Mr. Tintle sued, and last February, New York State Supreme Court Justice W. Gerard Asher, ruled in his companies’ favor, ordering the C.O. to be reinstated in its entirety.

In his ruling, Justice Asher gave considerable weight to the testimony of people like Bill Masterson, the former Southampton Town highway superintendent, and Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, who was formerly the town’s director of sanitation. In affidavits, they and others who worked at the site or made deliveries, described an ongoing operation that had been in place for decades.

Mr. Tintle said in 2013, the Suffolk County Department of Health Service asked to test the water from wells used to supply both his office at the Sand Land site and in an irrigation system that is run during the dry summer months to keep dust down. The tests have shown no sign of any contamination, he said.

“If the DEC wants me to put in test wells, I will, but I’ll be the only [sand mine] place on Long Island to have them,” he said.

Mr. Tintle says much of the public opposition to his plans have been stirred up by Mr. Rubin. House lots approved as part of the Bridge development back up to Sand Land, and Mr. Tintle showed a reporter photographs of surveillance cameras he says are on the Bridge property overlooking his mine. “I’m under a microscope here,” he said.

He also charges that Mr. Rubin has enlisted the Group for the East End to fight the battle for him. Mr. DeLuca dismisses those claims, while acknowledging that Mr. Rubin is a contributor to the Group and has attended its annual benefits.

“We made Bob Rubin’s life very difficult for three years” during the review of his golf course, Mr. DeLuca said, with the result that he now spends an estimated $200,000 to 300,000 annually to monitor the groundwater. “The bottom line is our position is consistent, whether it’s been Bob Rubin’s or this project,” Mr. DeLuca said.

“He’s in a position where he feels this is personal,” Mr. DeLuca added. “But it’s not like somebody went to the phone book, found this guy and decided to pick on him.”


Opponents Urge DEC To Require Environmental Study for Sand Land

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Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming show an aerial map of the Sand Land site to DEC Administrative Law Judge Molly McBride. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

Sand Land Corporation, owned and operated by Wainscott Sand & Gravel Inc., submitted an application to the DEC to expand its operations by some 20 percent, adding nearly 5 acres and deepening the floor of the mine by an additional 40 feet. The current elevation is 175 feet and the floor is 65 feet below the original grade, as authorized by a New York State Mined Lands Reclamation Act permit that was issued to Sand Land in November 2013 and expires November 2018.

In July, the DEC decided the kind of extensive environmental review typically done in an environmental impact statement was not required for the site, which is located within the Town of Southampton Aquifer Protection Overlay District. Local lawmakers and environmentalists quickly spoke out against the ruling, calling for the DEC to rescind its determination, require a full environmental impact statement on the site and, many argued, to deny the application entirely.

In response to that criticism, the DEC held Wednesday’s public hearing, which was presided over by DEC Administrative Law Judge Molly McBride. Officials from New York State and the Southampton Town voiced their disapproval of the DEC’s actions, as did environmentalists, geologists and representatives from the Group for the East End, Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Defend H20, a group of neighbors of  site who are pursuing legal action against Sand Land, and other local civic groups.

Wainscott Sand & Gravel owner John Tintle and DEC Deputy Permit Administrator Mark Carrara listened to comments.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming spoke on behalf of the town board, which has made protecting water quality on the East End a major concern.

The initial approval of Sand Land’s DEC mining permit in 1981, “was contingent on very specific water testing protocols,” said the supervisor, who urged the DEC to put Sand Land through all the protocols of regular ground and surface water testing “because of the sensitivity of this area and the fact that everyone is dependent on water quality here.”

Ms. Fleming said she does not understand how the DEC’s declaration could be possible and that monitoring water quality “would be required of any expansion on the East End landscape.”

“We require that [at the] golf course,” Ms. Throne-Holst said of the Bridge golf club, which lies adjacent to the mine and is required to adhere to regulations. “We have absolutely no clue why something like this…is not subjected to any kind of testing.”

“We sit directly to the north of Sand Land and we sit over this aquifer that’s so important to all of us,” said Greg Stanley, superintendent of grounds at the Bridge. “We work closely with the Town of Southampton and all of our application records are available at any moment to any citizen of the Town of Southampton.”

Mr. Stanley said the golf course embraces the town’s requirements, adding “it seems only reasonable that a property that sits on the same aquifer that we do be required” to undergo the same water quality monitoring process.

Group for the East End President Bob DeLuca told Justice McBride that the DEC “simply doesn’t want to take on the challenges associated with comprehensive review.” Forty years ago, he said, the state passed the State Environmental Quality Review Act to ensure complex environmental decisions at any size site were based on “comprehensive and transparent assessment” of all reasonable factors.

“Our concern is that we don’t believe that the DEC resisted to putting test wells in because they believe the groundwater is clean,” Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito said. “We believe the DEC’s concerned they will find the groundwater is contaminated and that unfortunately, they feel, opens up a can of worms. But, we’re saying open it up, deal with it—we need to assess the truth here. And if the site is clean, great, we put in a couple testers, but if it isn’t then we know we need to change the way we’re operating.”

“The concern is growing that the partnership between the DEC and sand mining is based on allowing sand mining at the risk of not living up to the mandate of protecting public health and our natural resources. That is the DEC’s primary mandate, and yet we feel it is becoming the second priority and not the first when it comes to sand mines,” added Ms. Esposito.

Citing legislation passed in the state assembly this year to address degrading water quality on Long Island and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent proclamation of water quality as a priority issue in New York State, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said the application arrived at a time when the “single issue of the degradation of water quality across Long Island—be it the surface water quality or our groundwater—is at huge crisis proportions.”

Calling the threshold that mandates an environmental impact statement “very low,” Assemblyman Thiele said the DEC needs to reverse its determination, undergo a comprehensive environmental review, and require groundwater monitoring of Sand Land.

Elena Loreto, president of the Noyac Civic Council, pointed to other environmental issues at the site, such as pollution, dust and traffic, saying there are “350 trucks that sail in and out of those roads” on a daily basis, and asked the DEC to partner with the town and require a full environmental impact statement.

Written comments about Sand Land’s permit application must be received by November 21, and should be sent to: NYSDEC Region 1, Att. Mark Carrara, Deputy Permit Administrator, SUNY Stony Brook, 50 Circle Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790.

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.”

SouthamptonTown Reexamines Sand Land

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By Claire Walla

There is a 50-acre sand pit on Millstone Lane in Bridgehampton that does more than process sand. There are also mulching and composting activities at the site, which residents in the area say are loud and smell badly—and are not legally part of what that facility is zoned to do.

The owners of the sand and gravel operation disagree.

The dispute between those who own and operate the Sand Land Corporation facility on Middle Line Highway in Noyac and the facility’s neighboring residents has been going on for years. Most recently, the issue was brought to last week’s Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting on November 17 as residents appealed a decision that essentially okayed the facility’s current mulching activities.

Southampton Town Chief Building Inspector Mike Benincasa ruled last June that the site was “pre-existing nonconforming” based on the fact that — as Sand Land’s lawyer, David Eagan, has argued — the business existed prior to 1957 when zoning laws were enacted. Sand Land was thus granted the “certificate of occupancy” it had been out to obtain since 2010. Benincasa’s decision essentially allows the business to proceed as is.

Residents are not happy.

Neighbor Jenice Delano said, “it’s really noisy.” Not only are there trucks traveling in and out of the property “all day long,” she said, “going, Beep! Beep! Beep!” she continued, abrasively imitating a car horn, but she said that part of the business’ activities includes crushing rocks.

“When they crush rock it’s earsplitting,” added Margot Gilman, who lives due south of Sand Land. “And sometimes there’s a low roaring in the background like the sound of lawnmowers from my neighbors.”

Not only that, Gilman continued, “The smell of the compost can be so overwhelming. There are days when I get to my house and it’s unbearable. And there are days when I wonder if my guests notice it.”

The business argues that mulch is created on-site to help with “reclamation.” The mulch is used to fill in the gaps and holes where sand has been dug-up, and it is generated on site for this purpose.

But according to Gilman and two other property owners listed in the lawsuit against the business, Sand Land still does not have the proper authorization for this usage. In a formal appeal drafted for the ZBA, Zachary Murdock, a lawyer working on behalf of the property owners, called the “certificate of occupancy” granted by Benincasa “unauthorized,” “illegal,” and unsupported by current evidence.

Prior to 1957, he argues, the property was not being used as it currently is.

Indicating an aerial photo taken in 1959, Murdock noted that “No sand pit or any disruption of vegetation in what became the pit is visible in this 1959 photo.”

Then, referencing an aerial photo taken in 1967, he pointed out the fact that Sand Land was well into its operation by then.

What’s more, he noted the minutes from a town ZBA meeting from 1961, in which the 25 acres of land in question is referred to as “scrub land.”

“Mining was clearly a proposed and not an existing use at the time,” he responded via email.

According to Delano, the residents’ appeal has raised a lot of issues for the town concerning the Sand Land property.

In fact, further complicating the matter, Delano referenced the fact that lawyers for the Sand Land property are now arguing that, because zoning laws changed again in 1972 to create a residential district, the Sand Land operation would only have had to exist in its current form prior to 1972 in order to be considered “pre-existing nonconforming.”

Murdock continued, “Inasmuch as the owner/operator has now redrawn the line in the sand, so to speak, at the point of the 1972 rezoning, we are focused as well on that as the crucial time for analysis.”

Gilman said she is hopeful this issue may begin to get resolved.

“It was made clear to the zoning board members that this is way more complicated than anything Benincasa was shown,” she added. “The positive thing about all this is that [Zoning Board of Appeals members] really did get interested in this [case].”

ZBA members have requested more information on the matter and aim to resume discussion after the holiday, at their next meeting January 16.