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Walter Asks If Sound Avenue Project Is Commercial Composting Operation

The supervisor would like further information about volume.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter has questions about an operation on Sound Avenue that had been accepting trees and storm debris until a stop work order was issued by the town last month.

According to Riverhead Town Attorney Bob  Kozakiewicz, Kristian Agoglia, the president of Looks Great Services, Inc., a property maintenance company in Huntington Village, has, under the auspices of Justin Purchasing, been bringing trees to a parcel located at 4116 Sound Avenue in Riverhead.

The operation was taking place on a farm at the site; the owners of the farm do not wish to be identified, Kozakiewicz said.

Kozakiewicz said he wanted to update the board at Thursday's work session. "A lot of information has been twisted and distorted," he said, adding that the items proposed to be recycled at the site are trees, "not sludge, not unadulterated material, not plastic."

The material has been tested and has been ascertained to be tree materials, and not contaminated with Asian beetle or any other diseases. "We're not talking about stuff that will contaminate the soil and cause a problem," he said.

Walter asked if the materials were being processed at the site. 

Attorney Mary Hartill said she, along with Agoglia, met with the town's agricultural advisory committee.

"As a result of what they presented to us, the ag advisory board came to a unanimous concensus that the use is incidental to related to the ag use on the property currently," Kozakiewicz said.

The wood, Hartill said, "turns into soil." The goal, she said, is to import wood chips then shred them to less than one inch in a short period of time. After that, the wood will be placed in wind rows and left to decompose over six to 18 months; no nitrogen or any other chemical would be injected, she said.

The plan, she added, is consistent with recommendations made by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Councilman John Dunleavy asked how close to Sound Avenue the wind rows would extend.

Hartill said the wind rows would be sited on the back seven acres of the site.

Councilman George Gabrielsen said the concern was volume. "They're looking to bring another approximately 1000 trailer loads. They've only brought 150 so far," he said.

The material's delivery, Kozakiewicz said, is tracked by GPS in true time.

"You want another 1000 truckloads -- how are you ever going to absorb all of that?" Walter asked.

The amount, Gabrielsen said, would cover 40 acres, 12 inches deep.

Hartill said after processing, the material gets reduced by over 50 percent, to an end result of about an inch; the material would take up seven acres at the back of the farm, not the entire 40.

Walter questioned whether the proposed operation was a commercial composting facility, much like what exists in Center Moriches. "If you can't use the material on that farm then you seem to be commercial composting."

Gabrielsen said the material could be used on the farm.

Walter said he'd like to see an engineering report for a volume analysis; Gabrielsen said some farmers have expressed concerns that the town would start regulating their operations.

Dunleavy said Sound Avenue is not a "thick, commerical road that can bear these tractor trailers. This could break up our roads."

Nowhere in the town code, Hartill said, does it say such a use should be regulated by volume. 

"I'm not going to be in a situation that, all of a sudden, you end up with a large scale composting facility and Justin Purchasing says, 'Oh, shucks,'" Walter said. "It looks like he's trying to sneak in a professional composting facility."

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio suggested the town request a report from the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation department.

Hartill said all the issues mentioned had been addressed by the ag advisory committee, which gave a favorable recommendation.

"You’re asking for an engineering report, and going beyond the scope of what’s regulated," she said.

Walter said he had not seen a report from the ad advisory committee and added that a commercial composting facility could not be created without a site plan.

And Gabrielsen said he did not see how the wood would transform without nitrogen.

The supervisor asked that a letter be written to the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation department, asking for a report.

"I share the Supervisor’s concerns," Dominique Mendez, president of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition. "It is very hard to believe that the amount of wood they’re planning to dump here is truly to adjust that particular farm’s soil; it seems much more likely this is really a commercial composting operation under the guise of farming. Someone without a vested interest should evaluate the numbers and if there’s no way all that is for use on this property, then it should be stopped because it’s not farming, and it’s not protected. The numbers will tell the true story, whatever it is."

A request for comment from Agoglia was not immediately returned.

Maryann Citizen January 21, 2013 at 04:33 AM
Agoglia has a 40 million dollar contract to remove trees in Nassau County and elsewhere from Hurrican Sandy. 1,000 trailers of wood chips. Riverhead be wary!!!

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