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Riverhead bringing TS Haulers to court — again — over sand mining

TS Haulers 3

Is this deja vu all over again with T.S. Haulers?

The Riverhead Town Board plans to authorize litigation against T.S. Haulers, claiming the Calverton-based company is illegally sand mining on Route 25 in Calverton.

“We will be authorizing litigation to be brought against T.S. Haulers,” Supervisor Sean Walter said Thursday following an executive session discussion the Town Board had on the subject.

He said the board plans to hire the law firm of Sinnreich Kosakoff & Messina LLP to represent the town in that litigation.

Riverhead Town and T.S. Haulers were engaged in protracted litigation for many years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the town claimed then that the company was mining without town permits.

Riverhead leaders said sand mining was not a permitted use on T.S. Hauler’s 57-acre site, but the state Department of Environmental Conservation ultimately approved the use based on a ZBA ruling that said T.S. Haulers’ sand mining operation was a “non-nuisance industry.” Subsequent court rulings were decided in T.S. Haulers’ favor.

However, this time around, the town believes it has a case against T.S. Haulers.

“They have started to sand mine without the benefit of town permits and without the benefit of (state Department of Environmental Conservation) permits,” Mr. Walter said. “They have actually paid, from what we understand, fines to the DEC and they continue to sand mine.”

T.S. Haulers purchased the 96-acre former farm to the west of the existing sand mine in 2000, according to county records. T.S. Haulers stopped sand mining that parcel and completed a state-required reclamation of the mine on June 5, 2012, according to the DEC.

After its reclamation project was completed, the company continued to process some materials on that site and has a registration from the DEC’s Materials Management Division that allows them to take in only “recognizable uncontaminated concrete, asphalt, pavement, brick, soil or rock,” DEC spokesman Bill Fonda told the News-Review in 2013. “They are authorized to take in 600 cubic yards a day, and they can store 20,000 cubic yards on site.”

In a statement to the News-Review on Friday night, DEC public information officer Lori Severino said the DEC was “made aware of recent activities at the site which we are currently investigating.”

Mr. Partridge did not immediately return a call from the News-Review seeking comment.

Ms. Severino said DEC workers visited the 57-acre site in May as part of an “agriculture exemption” application by the new business there, Calverton Tree Farm. The DEC discovered that “excavation work and the removal of material from the site had taken place” where the company had claimed to be building a road.

On May 15, the DEC issued a violation against the business and after a meeting with the facility’s attorneys, the company agreed to pay a penalty of $7,500 in July. The DEC then agreed to continue to review the application.

Newsday reported in late July that District Attorney Thomas Spota was issuing subpoenas to five towns across Suffolk County, Riverhead among them, in relation to a sand mining probe.

T.S. Haulers’ trucks and equipment can clearly be seen from the road on a property just west of its existing 57-acre sand mine on Main Road in Calverton that was the subject of previous lawsuits with the town. The adjacent property also now has a huge pile of sand on it that is easily visible from the road.

“We are confident that Mr. (Jonathan) Sinnreich will be able to quickly obtain a stop work order,” Mr. Walter said.

Mr. Partridge recently sold a property he owned on Edwards Avenue, where he kept trucks stored, to the Riverhead School District, which plans to make that site its new bus barn. He then used the money from that sale to purchase Riverhead Raceway for $4 million from its longtime owners, Jim and Barbara Cromarty in August.

Mr. Partridge, who owns the track along with his wife Connie and cousin Tom Gatz, told the News-Review in August that he plans to continue to operate a racetrack in the area — though did leave the door open that its location could change to Calverton.

Corrections: A previous version of this article incorrectly noted that the town settled with T.S. Haulers in its previous litigation. Courts ruled in favor of T.S. Haulers; Riverhead settled with Calverton Industries, a different company, in 2002. In addition, this article previously stated that sand mining is alleged on the 96-acre site to the west of where sand mining was alleged previously. It is not clear which parcel the town is suing over.