Solid waste facility & more planned for Calverton sand mine property

TIM GANNON | A storage building at the Calverton Industries property off Route 25 in Calverton.

A solid waste tipping and transfer station, an indoor composting facility, industrial storage buildings, as well as restaurants, retail stores, offices and apartments are all proposed on the site of the Calverton Industries sand mine property in Calverton, according to a site plan application filed with Riverhead Town Hall.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has already issued a state permit for the construction of a solid waste management facility at the site, said DEC spokesman Bill Fonda.

A town permit would still be needed for such a facility — at which solid waste and recyclables would be sorted and shipped off premises — to move forward.

The DEC permit is issued to East End Recycling and Composting Co., which would then lease 10 acres from Calverton Industries.

A similar waste station was planned for the 50-acre site across from Fresh Pod Avenue on Route 25 in the 1990s. The property has most recently been used as a sand mine whose owner, Mike Cholowsky, was involved in litigation with Riverhead Town over whether that facility had the proper permits.

John Cameron, a principal in the group that sought to build the facility in the 1990s, is a principal in East End Recycling.

Mr. Cameron said the solid waste permit is the same one he received many years ago when he planned to lease the property from its prior owner, Parvis Farahzad.

He said he has continually gotten it renewed.

He also said a town special permit approval for the recycling facility also was ordered to be valid in perpetuity by a court ruling, although that could not be immediately confirmed by town officials.

The site plan application filed in Town Hall was actually submitted in August, but the town Planning Board never reviewed it because the town has asked for more information from the applicant, and never received it, said town planning director Rick Hanley.

“We have a lot of questions about this,” Mr. Hanley said.

The Planning Board actually discussed a similar application from Calverton Industries in 2006, but it never went anywhere.

“This project has been kicked around for years,” Mr. Hanley said. “It’s been a long, tortured process.”

Rex Farr, the president of the Greater Calverton Civic Association, said he was unaware of the current application, but that the civic association opposed a similar proposal about 10 years ago when Mr. Cholowsky wanted to have a waste transfer station with a rail spur at the site.

“This is what we’ve been afraid of for a number of years,” Mr. Farr said. “Extending Route 58 from Exit 73 west to Route 25 and right into  Wading River. The Civic Association is dead set against a transfer station, just as we were 10 years ago.”

“There are things going on there that the town wants to look at more carefully,” said Supervisor Sean Walter in an interview.

The 50-acre property has a split zoning, with 9.68 acres fronting Route 25 zoned for Rural Neighborhood Business (Business CR) and the other 41.32 acres zoned Industrial B. But a 2006 court ruling dictated that the town must process the application using the uses allowed in the Business CR and Industrial B zoning codes that existed before the town changed its zoning in 2004.

The site plan shows eight 4,000-square-foot buildings toward Route 25 that would include two restaurants, two offices and four retail buildings. The restaurants and retail buildings would have a total of 24 apartments on the upper floor, while the two office buildings would have offices on both floors, according to the site plan.

Just south of that is the proposed 110,000-square foot East End Recycling building, which would be leased from Calverton Industries.

It would include a 68,000-square-foot composting and storage area, a 20,000-square-foot solid waste tipping and transfer building, a 17,500-square-foot recycling processing area and administration and mechanical areas on a 10 acre portion of the property.

The plan also calls for six separate 20,000-square-foot industrial storage buildings, each with 2,000 square feet of office space, and room for outdoor storage.

The proposed facility would likely handle garbage from the five East End towns, Mr. Cameron said.

“The DEC supports this because we don’t have enough facilities to handle our waste on Long Island. Right now, 40 percent of our waste goes off Long Island. So, in addition to increasing truck traffic and greenhouse gases, we’re also exporting a good amount of our economy off the island.”

He said he met with Mr. Hanley, town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz and town planning staff about two weeks ago to discuss the project, and is in the process of responding to the extensive comments made by planning staff about the application.

Mr. Hanley said Mr. Cholowsky was required by the state to close and reclaim the sand mine on the property.

Calverton Industries has completed all mining and reclamation activities on the site and the reclamation was approved by the DEC as of Dec. 7, 2010, Mr. Fonda said.

Mr. Cholowsky did not return calls seeking comment.

A condition of a prior sand mine permit issued to Mr. Cholowsky by the DEC stated that he was barred from being involved in the solid waste business, but Mr. Fonda said that condition is no longer in effect.

Mr. Cholowsky testified in 1999 that he had paid bribes totaling $20,000 to then-Brookhaven Town Republican party leader John Powell for the right to dump at the town landfill in Yaphank.

His testimony helped convict Mr. Powell on federal racketeering charges, for which he was sentenced to 20 months in jail. Mr. Cholowsky later pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, and was sentenced to one year probation.

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