The Riverhead Town Board plans to request lead agency status to review a sand mine project that officials fear could adversely affect Riverhead’s groundwater.
The application, received by the town Dec. 4, is for CMA Mine, owned by Steven Mezynieski. The plan calls for constructing an 8.5-acre lake to a maximum depth of 89 feet below groundwater at an existing sand mine at the southwest corner of Osborn Avenue and Youngs Avenue, adjacent to the town’s capped landfill to the west. The proposed acreage to be mined is 14.98 acres of the 20-acre property.
Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith asked Jeff Murphree, the town’s building and planning administrator, to review the application with the Town Board at Thursday’s work session.
A letter from the state Department of Environmental Conservation states that if the town does not respond within the 30-day comment period, the DEC will assume lead agency on the property and determine that the town has no comments to offer on the property.
Mr. Murphree said the DEC did not provide the full application to the town, and excluded certain plans, typographic maps and appendices of the documents. The proclamation, permit report and assessment reports were provided to the town.
He evaluated the partial application and provided the board with a list of issues and concerns about the proposed mining, including a question on how the proposed mining into the aquifer will affect groundwater quality.
Deputy town attorney Anne Marie Prudenti provided documents for the Town Board that relate to those concerns.
Ms. Prudenti said a reformation permit report states the water in the area will travel north of the groundwater divide. But according to town documents, she said water runs from south and east at that particular site.
“So any potential for contamination as a result of mining is going to affect our wells and the town may have significant liability regarding contamination of our wells and the requirement to remediate or prove who is responsible for that contamination,” Ms. Prudenti said.
Since the mine would be in close proximity to the landfill, any dewatering conducted at the site will allow metals and contaminants to “almost certainly” enter the town wells, Ms. Prudenti said.
Ms. Jens-Smith said the property is an increase of a nonconforming use and she said she wants the town to be lead agency, not the DEC.
“This is a myriad of issues that have serious impacts for us in the Town of Riverhead. We need to get on this right away,” she said.
Mr. Murphee said town attorney Robert Kozakiewicz is investigating if the application complies with Chapter 229 Excavating and Grading of the Town Code. He recommended that Mr. Kozakiewicz come before the board next week to update them on his findings.
Mr. Murphree suggested the Town Board send a notice to the DEC that they want to obtain lead agency.
Photo caption: Jeff Murphree speaks with board members at Thursday’s work session. (Credit: Kate Nalepinski)