Town planning department weighs in on Gershow problems

08/09/2014 1:00 PM |
Neighbors have been complaining about noise and ground shaking near Gershow Recycling on Hubbard Avenue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Neighbors have been complaining about noise and ground shaking near Gershow Recycling on Hubbard Avenue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

In June, a state Supreme Court judge adjourned Riverhead Town’s lawsuit against Gershow Recycling until the town Planning Board makes a decision about whether Gershow — a thorn in the side of neighbors who have been complaining about excessive noise for over a year— is a different use from its previous operator on the Hubbard Avenue property.

But it now looks like the town has made that decision without the Planning Board.

Gershow purchased the former Fred J. Gallo Used Auto Parts property in 2011 and filed an application in 2012 to continue to operate an “end of life vehicle recycling facility” on the site.

But neighbors and town officials have maintained that what Gershow is doing is much different from what Gallo did, and has created noise and vibration that Gallo never did, through crushing cars and gathering huge piles of scrap metal on concrete.

Riverhead Town Attorney Kozakiewicz said in June that the courts generally want municipalities to exhaust all potential remedies for a case at the local level before going to court.

“Courts, generally speaking, prefer to have the local municipality take up the issue,” Mr. Kozakiewicz said.

So on July 18, town building and planning administrator Jeff Murphree sent a letter to Gershow indicating he considers Gershow’s operation to be a recycling facility, which is different from what Gallo used it for and not permitted by the property’s zoning. As a result, the applicant cannot go back to the Planning Board for site plan approval.

Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said Gershow could consider seeking a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. He said the town has not received a reply from Gershow about the July 18 determination but expects Gershow will challenge it.

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