Riverhead Town approves legal action against Gershow Recycling

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)

The Riverhead Town Board unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday authorizing legal action against Gershow Recycling, whose Hubbard Avenue facility has been the subject of noise complaints from neighbors in the nearby Riverhaven mobile home park.

Town officials have also claimed Gershow has been building on the property without the proper approvals.

The Town Board’s decision authorizes town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz to bring the legal action at his discretion, according to the resolution.

Although many residents that live in the mobile home park located next to Gershow attended Tuesday night’s regular Town Board meeting, none of them spoke during a public comment opportunity prior to the vote.

Town Board members also didn’t talk about the action during Tuesday’s meeting.

After the legal action against Gershow was approved, Riverhaven resident Richard Luzzi, who has been vocal about the noise problem, thanked the Town Board.

During last Thursday’s work session, Mr. Luzzi, who has lived in the senior citizen mobile home park for ten years, addressed the Town Board and described the noise from Gershow’s property as loud as a “sonic boom.”

“We had a really good quality of life here,” he said. “Now, the quality of life in Riverhaven sucks. It is unbelievable.

“The noise is just out of this world.”

Gershow bought the former Fred J. Gallo Used Auto Parts property on Hubbard Avenue in 2011. The town didn’t hold a public hearing or require Gershow to submit a site plan application because the property’s new use was considered a minor change, or “di minimis,” as the legal term goes, town officials have said.

The di minims declaration was signed by town planning director Rick Hanley and Sharon Klos, who headed the building department at the time but has since retired.

Since then, neighbors have complained that Gershow has been crushing cars and scrap metal and making noises and vibrations that the old Gallo junk yard never did.

“It’s pretty clear from listening to the complaints that this is not a continuation of a pre-existing, non-conforming use, which was a small family-owned junkyard,” Jonathan Brown, an attorney for Riverhaven, said during last Thursday’s Town Board work session. “This is a completely different operation and much more noxious.”

After Gershow began stacking green shipping containers last year to try and block the noise, the town Planning Board ruled that action and other changes made to the property did, in fact, require a site plan application and a public hearing.

That hearing was held at the Planning Board meeting a week ago.

Peter Danowski, Mr. Gallo’s attorney, said during the hearing that Gershow is taking steps to curb the noise. He later told the News-Review, “Gershow has the exact same licensing use as Gallo had. A junkyard is a junkyard.”

Supervisor Sean Walter said at last Thursday’s work session the town thought Gershow would be a continuation of the junk yard business run by Mr. Gallo, but with steps taken to better protect the environment.

“That’s not what we have,” he said last week, indicating the Town Board would authorize legal action to seek a temporary restraining order stopping the work.

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