Town considers outside counsel to help handle Gershow lawsuits

Riverhead Town officials say they may use an outside attorney to handle the lawsuit they filed against Gershow Recycling last year because of the large volume of information Gershow is seeking from the town on that case.

“They are burying us in discovery requests,” Supervisor Sean Walter said. “We may consider referring this to outside counsel due to the amount of litigation time it’s requiring.”

There are actually two lawsuits between Riverhead Town and Gershow, which bought the former Fred J. Gallo Used Auto Parts shop on Hubbard Avenue in 2011. Gershow has been subject to several complaints by neighbors as well, who have claimed the use town officials say is illegal is too loud as well.

• See related story: Town planning department weighs in on Gershow problems

The first lawsuit between the town and the recycling company was filed by the town against Gershow alleging that the company was violating its approvals by conducting a use not permitted on the site.

The second lawsuit was filed by Gershow against the town and seeks to overturn a town ruling rejecting an amended site plan from Gershow. Mr. Walter said the town won’t hire outside counsel for that lawsuit.

The basic disagreement in both cases stems from the question of whether Gershow is operating as the same use as Gallo did. The town in 2012 waived the need for site plan approval for Gershow, saying the changes from the previous use of the property were minor.

Following complaints from neighbors about excessive noise from Gershow, the town took the position that Gershow was actually operating a scrap metal recycling transfer station, in addition to an auto parts salvage yard — uses that were not minor as originally believed.

Gershow, in turn, claims they received the same junk yard permit from the town as Gallo, and they produced an affadavit from Thomas Gallo saying his company also recycled scrap metals, in addition to car parts.

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