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Jul 27, 2011 9:53 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Neighbors Concerned About Operations At Bridgehampton Business

Jul 27, 2011 11:48 AM

Nearly eight years ago, when Joseph Phair first started finding scraps of metal—some up to nearly 10 inches long—and landscaping materials scattered about the side yard of his Bridgehampton home, he made the decision to keep his young grandchildren away from the area.

The objects, he said, were flung from a grinding machine operated by employees of the Wainscott Sand & Gravel Corporation, a sand mining, gravel grinding and mulching business located next door to Mr. Phair’s home. Town records show that the 50 acres on which the business operates is owned by the Sand Land Corporation—the name by which most locals refer to the operation. Owner John Tintle is the principal of both companies.

Although Mr. Phair hasn’t found any new scraps for the last year and a half—he said he doesn’t mow the grass on that part of his property anymore—his fear of flying debris from the commercial business has essentially prevented him from enjoying that portion of his yard.

“It’s almost an excluded part of the property,” said Mr. Phair, who noted that he collected approximately 30 pieces of debris from his side yard over a nearly two-year period, starting around 2003. “You just don’t go over there because of this particular situation.”

Mr. Phair is one of a handful of residents still embroiled in a lawsuit dating back to 2005 and filed against the Sand Land Corporation. The suit, filed in State Supreme Court, is seeking an end to what the residents believe are expanded, illegal commercial uses that violate Southampton Town’s zoning code. These expanded uses, the residents say, have eroded their quality of life; neighbors have long complained about the stench and loud noise emanating from the site.

Residents are also alleging that the business only has the necessary approval to operate as a sand mining facility, but activities at the site have evolved over the years to also include a solid waste processing operation that encompasses many uses, such as the disposal of landscaping materials, composting and rock crushing—none of which are approved uses, they maintain.

The issues surrounding the Bridgehampton business are coming to a head now because Mr. Tintle is trying to legalize four structures on his property after the town issued code violations in 2006, stating that he lacked the building permits and a certificate of occupancy for the structures. Mr. Tintle currently has an application before the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals seeking four setback variances for the structures, all of which were constructed without building permits, according to the application on file at Town Hall. That hearing, which has been previously adjourned, is now listed on the ZBA’s agenda for Thursday, August 18.

But attorney David Eagan, who is representing Mr. Tintle in the ongoing litigation and before the zoning board, said that neighbors of the Sand Land Corporation are attracting attention to the situation now because they are losing the lawsuit. “They’re using the press to put pressure on the town and confusing the issues,” he said.

Just this month, Mr. Eagan secured a determination from Southampton Town Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa stating that the company is entitled to a preexisting certificate of occupancy that legalizes some of the uses that neighbors find offensive. Mr. Eagan requested the written determination from Mr. Benincasa earlier this month, and he responded by issuing a preexisting certificate of occupancy on July 18 for three out of four structures.

According to the memo, Mr. Benincasa found that the Wainscott Sand & Gravel Corporation is entitled to the preexisting certificate of occupancy so it can operate a sand mine; receive and process trees, brush, stumps, leaves and other yard debris into either topsoil or mulch; and store, sell and deliver sand, mulch, topsoil and wood chips. But as far as receiving and processing concrete, asphalt pavement, brick, rock and stone into concrete blend, Mr. Benincasa specifically stated in his memo that those uses are not considered preexisting, nonconforming uses, citing a 1962 ZBA decision.

Mr. Benincasa is out of the office until Wednesday, August 3, and could not be reached for comment this week.

The uses that neighbors are contesting have always existed at the site, Mr. Eagan argued. Wainscott Sand & Gravel Corporation is a preexisting, nonconforming sand mining and reclamation business that dates back to the 1950s—before uniform town zoning was created. As a result, the business has been required to submit annual reports on its sand mining operations to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, Mr. Eagan said. He dismissed allegations that the site is a solid waste processing facility.

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Didn't we used to have a racetrack, that someone found "offensive", too?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 27, 11 6:48 PM
4 members liked this comment
THE nimby people need to realize what their neighborhood is BEFORE they buy cheap land. Going through this at the EH aitport and formerly the BH race track. Do your homework BEFORE you buy!!!!
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jul 27, 11 7:56 PM
To add to your list:gun range, boardy barn, night clubs, light polution ? All things that have been there before these idiots bought there homes. If you dont want to be bothered by others land upstate is cheaper and way more private go up there...please!
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Jul 28, 11 5:49 PM
4 members liked this comment
When these people have their lawns cut,trees pruned,and there leaves taken away,where the heck do they think they go.....Everyone wants a deal on a house or piece of land,but the pit was there before most of these homes,so you have to live with what you got.
By DJ9222 (85), southampton on Jul 28, 11 10:25 PM
4 members liked this comment
He must have bought his house at night.
By Local dad (51), North Sea on Jul 29, 11 6:07 AM
4 members liked this comment