Town nearing court action to shut Gershow

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 clock may be running out on Gershow Recycling.

After Riverhead Town Board members gave the town attorney the OK to bring the Hubbard Avenue recycling facility to court, the Medford-based company has submitted some information the town has requested over how it plans to mitigate noise on site.

But it’s not enough, according to deputy town attorney Bill Duffy.

If the town doesn’t get the information it’s seeking soon, it will initiate a state supreme court action to try and stop the business from operating.

The Town Board authorized such an action by resolution in April, after hearing complaints as early as last summer from residents in the nearby Riverhaven mobile home park. However, the town has yet to actually bring the legal action.

“The volume of the noise goes from very loud to sonic booms,” Riverhaven resident Richard Luzzi told the Town Board Tuesday. “When Gershow is in full operation, it is constant the whole day.”

Mr. Duffy addressed several Riverhaven residents following Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.

“The town can’t just shut them down,” Mr. Duffy said. “We need the court to do that.”

He explained that Gershow was given until Tuesday afternoon to get the mitigation information to the town or else the town would proceed with the litigation.

That information was provided, Mr. Duffy said. However, it was not good enough.

The plan calls for stacking large green shipping containers on top of one another along the eastern boundary of the property, according to Peter Danowski, Gershow’s attorney. The propose to have the containers stacked two-high, he said, as a means of mitigation noise from the plant.

“We want to see if this works, and if not, we’ll try something else,” Mr. Danowski said in an interview.

He said the plans submitted to the town is exactly the same as the amended site plan application Gershow has pending before the town Planning Board.

But Mr. Duffy said that’s not enough.

The town wants to see some engineering data that indicates that stacking metal containers along the border of the property — the measure the company is hoping will block noise — will actually do its job. And the town wants to have a monitor on the property, who is paid for by Gershow but selected by the town.

Mr. Duffy said Friday that he is now working on the court papers needed to take Gershow to state supreme court, where the town will seek an injunction to shut them down.

Gershow bought the former Fred J. Gallo Used Auto Parts property in 2011. At the time, officials have said, 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.

But neighbors says Gershow is not doing the same thing Gallo did; in fact, they say, it is much noisier.

The company is crushing cars and processing scrap metal at the site, both of which are very noisy, according to neighbors. Some residents say the work at Gershow is also causing the ground to vibrate by their homes.

Supervisor Sean Walter said on Tuesday that based on the application submitted to the town by Gershow in 2011, it seemed like they’d be doing the same type of work that Gallo did at the site.

“We didn’t know what was coming,” Mr. Walter told the residents. “We now know what we have and we’re going to do everything we can to address the situation.”

Residents said the town should have known what type of business Gershow is based on similar incidents in other towns where they are located.

Mr. Walter said Gershow president Kevin Gershowitz, a member of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, should have known what the company was proposing and should have told the town.

According to Mr. Gershowitz’ bio on the Planning Commission’s website, “The company’s mission is Conserving the Future by Recycling the Past.”

Watch a video of the facility below:

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