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Apr 1, 2016 4:51 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Court Rules That Sand Land Must Discontinue Mulching Facilty

Sand Land can no longer continue its solid waste processing operations. Press file.
Apr 5, 2016 2:52 PM

The State Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled this week that the owners of a sand mine in Noyac do not have the right to continue to operate a solid-waste processing facility at the site.

The unanimous decision upholds a 2012 ruling by the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, one that was later overturned by a State Supreme Court justice after it was the subject of a legal challenge.

According to the recent decision, the “processing of trees, brush, stumps, leaves and other clearing debris into topsoil or mulch, and the storage, sale and delivery of mulch, topsoil and wood chips” will no longer be permitted at the site, which is known locally as Sand Land. The decision was that those activities were new uses that are not preexisting, meaning that they were not done continuously since before being precluded by zoning. Additionally, it states that they are not a “permitted expansion of any legally established nonconforming use.”

The decision notes that Sand Land still is allowed to store, sell and deliver sand, as well as receive trees, leaves and “other clearing debris.”

“They are allowed to do things related to reclaiming the mine,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman last week. “The zoning board made a determination that only certain uses were preexisting, and that these other things that were happening on the site were not lawful, according to zoning—and that is what the court determined.”

For years, local residents have said Wainscott Sand & Gravel, Sand Land’s owner, has used its mining permit to justify its solid waste processing facility, which they said poses an especially serious threat to groundwater because the mine is located above an aquifer that supplies drinking water to both Southampton and East Hampton towns.

“Those additional uses have to stop—they aren’t permitted. They are a violation of town code,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “I believe that the code was put in place to protect the environment and the drinking water.”

Robert DeLuca, president of Group for the East End, said the town should ensure that the illegal uses are discontinued to reduce the risk of contamination to the aquifer. He said that will work “in the best interest of water quality for the region, which has been our priority from the outset.”

Separately, Wainscott Sand & Gravel is in the process of appealing a State Department of Environmental Conservation decision from last year, which denied the company permission to expand the mine. The owners were seeking to excavate an additional 4.9 acres of adjacent land, as well as excavating 40 feet deeper. That would have brought the mining operation to 120 feet above the water table, as opposed to 160 feet.

Local residents oppose the expansion and even the existence of the mine because of its location near the aquifer.

“The town still believes they should not go deeper with the sand mining either,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “It should terminate when the current permit thresholds are met.”

The owner of Wainscott Sand & Gravel, John Tintle, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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By lawnman (21), easthampton on Apr 1, 16 8:44 PM
What's everybody gonna do when they can't get mulch for their homes and estates anymore? How about when there isn't any sand to replenish beaches or to add to concrete for their homes? The town doesn't see the future of viable materials in high demand! When mulch needs to be trucked in your looking at a minimum of $50.00 per yard picked up! Something to think long and hard about! Sand Land does not spray chemicals on anything but it's ok for the golf course to??
By johnnyhampton (82), Southampton on Apr 1, 16 9:23 PM
27 east won't let me unlock article. A press subscriber for 25 years. :-(
By Barbara L.Bornstein (2), on Apr 2, 16 8:11 AM
I love how we needed a sound bite from Jay at the end...
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Apr 2, 16 8:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
That sand mining business has been there as long as I can remember. I would have to say, the ARB is not looking out for the future of the residents of Southampton Town. Where is having a recycling of materials like tree's and mulch pose a issue for Southampton Town? Not good news here.
By trurepublician (53), hampton bays on Apr 2, 16 8:35 AM
Well, for one it looks like the people saying "no" to this use are looking out for our drinking water. Since, you know, we get our drinking water from the ground, and now there's 100' less sand for the water to filter through, combined with the harmful leachate known to be in mulch as recently evidenced by NYSDEC investigations.

Google the following and then tell me if you think there's no issue with mulching at the bottom of a sand mine: "mulch facility contamination long island"
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Apr 2, 16 10:49 AM
1 member liked this comment
The mulching operation can be brought to a higher elevation but shutting this operation down is a very foolish idea! Wood grinding and rotting is no different than trees falling in the woods and rotting and eventually becoming topsoil/compost? If they shut this operation down say hello to everybody dumping and burying debris just to get rid of it! Everybody seems to complain about using "up island" contractors but now they will have a much easier way out here because they will have a place to dispose ...more
By johnnyhampton (82), Southampton on Apr 2, 16 9:42 PM
2 members liked this comment
"Wood grinding and rotting is no different than trees falling in the woods and rotting and eventually becoming topsoil/compost?"

It IS different when it's concentrated like a mulching facility. The investigation by the NYSDEC shows that concentrated mulching operations cause elevated levels of contaminants in our groundwater.
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Apr 3, 16 9:41 AM
What kind of contaminants are we talking about? Would it be less of a risk if it was brought to a higher elevation rather than the bottom of the pit?
By johnnyhampton (82), Southampton on Apr 3, 16 10:33 AM
From another news source: "It found elevated levels of metals, particularly manganese, in groundwater — in one case, as high as 160 times the drinking water and groundwater standards. Other metals with elevated levels included thallium and iron.

Manganese and other elements can leach into the soil when organic material decomposes, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation."

Also, LI Compost in Yaphank apparently had radioactive material leaching into ...more
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Apr 3, 16 3:02 PM
It's interesting to note that all this started with Joe Phair building his house next to the pit (didn't like the truck traffic & the dust) & Robert Rubin's Golf at the Bridge getting under way. Wonder how much water the golf course pulls from the aquifer when they're irrigating? Ask Atlantic & Noyac how much they use as well! Also interesting to note is that Rubin tried to buy the sand mine from Bill Tintle, John Tintle's father, quite some time ago but was rebuffed. Reason for wanting the land? ...more
By Peiper1253 (2), Southampton on Apr 3, 16 12:54 PM
Peiper1253 you hit it right on the head!! Thank you for all that you said!!
By johnnyhampton (82), Southampton on Apr 3, 16 4:19 PM
2 members liked this comment
Mining sand isn't the problem. Grinding the construction debris that has been sprayed with chlordane is a problem when it gets into our water supply. Mulching the vegetative waste that has been sprayed with DEET, and other pesticides and carcinogens that rainwater washes into the surface water and groundwater is a problem. For those who think this is not a problem, I'd like to see you drink a glass of water from the pool of water which accumulated from rainwater runoff at Sand Land. ...more
By Educated (3), Sag Harbor on Apr 3, 16 6:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
Educated??? Not so much. Pretty much all your claims are erroneous. And yes we do have a house down stream from the pit with well water that tests just fine. The whole area was more appealing when it had a race track and none of the clowns from the city who bought land next to the track because it was cheap and then complained about the noise.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Apr 4, 16 6:40 PM
Chlordane was banned by the EPA in 1983 except for termite control. It was totally banned in 1988. DEET is an insecticide commonly found in mosquito & insect repellent.

They don't grind C & D (construction & demolition debris) in Bridgehampton. As for radioactive substances? Don't think they're taking waste from BNL's facilities!

Get educated!
By Peiper1253 (2), Southampton on Apr 3, 16 7:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
For all concerned - Worth a read:
From the Executive Summary of the Suffolk County Health Department's recent investigation of vegetative waste facilities in Suffolk County. The full study is available online from the Suffolk County website.

"The data collected indicates that water quality downgradient of the vegetative organic waste management (VOWM) facilities studied exhibited impacts.Most notably, an increase in metals concentrations, particularly manganese, and increased detections ...more
By Group for the East End (13), Bridgehampton on Apr 3, 16 11:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
Its hard to believe that this is what we are worried about contaminating our groundwater when our current county codes allow cesspools at every single developed site to dump raw sewage into the ground, in many places either a foot or two above groundwater or in some instances IN groundwater. And yet we are arguing about mulch and topsoil piled up 60-80 feet above groundwater. By the way, ever drive past a golf course early in the morning and see the guys in Tyvek suits with respirators spraying ...more
By bayfront (4), SOUTHAMPTON on Apr 4, 16 6:15 PM
You've entered into a straw-man argument. The concerns you list are IN ADDITION TO the concerns related to mulching facilities. Long Island and Florida are the only places that get their drinking water from the aquifers beneath them - the more ways we screw it up, the more it costs to filter and the more wells become permanently contaminated.
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Apr 4, 16 7:45 PM
So what exactly do you propose to do with organic waste on the east end? You can't just pile it up and ignore it.
By bayfront (4), SOUTHAMPTON on Apr 4, 16 8:12 PM
Simple: process it at an indoor facility with a concrete floor and a stormwater treatment. It's common sense - but it undercuts profits for people like Sand Land
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Apr 5, 16 9:07 AM
You are citing something that happened some where else and acting as if this is scientific information found from testing in the area off of Millstone Road at the sand pit. And yet there is a subdivision going in right next door to the sand pit. So are you prodevelopment? Pro more septic systems right on top of that same aquifer that you are decrying as polluted? Is composting a problem? Ask the experts at Rodales organic gardening, It is recommended, particularly for sand soils. This sand pit ...more
By AL (83), southampton on Apr 7, 16 1:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
It is common sense! But Southampton Town would never approve a building of that size. Pretty sure Sand Land would be more than happy to shell out for a building, it would make their facility permant for generations and ensure constant profit. But that's not the root of the issue, no one wants this in their backyard, but it needs to happen somewhere. The organic waste on the east end is not going to disappear because we ignore it.
By bayfront (4), SOUTHAMPTON on Apr 5, 16 9:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yet the town would approve a zone change for the Hills in Quogue right over the aquifer, and the tennis court camp on Major's path to expand their septic system and operation. BOth of which will have an enormous affect on ground water. But some how making mulch and compost in Noyac is a problem.
Instead of writing comments call Jay Schneiderman's office 283 6000 and tell him what you think. After all he works for you the people.......or write a letter, better yet.
By AL (83), southampton on Apr 7, 16 1:53 PM
Forgot to add, the town is making compost off of north sea road, right over the moraine, next to a sports facility at the dump. In Hampton Bays too. They are making compost, and processing yard waste and grinding mulch. And now they are going to be doing a lot more of it......a lot more. Has the DEC tested these two run sites lately? Why is it legal for the Town to do what they are shutting the sand pit down for? Are they going to expand these facilities? No one at the dump even knew this was ...more
By AL (83), southampton on Apr 7, 16 1:57 PM
When the aquifer is no longer usable & water must be trucked in at huge expense am looking forward to the abandonment of all of the mcmansions - showers, toilets and irrigation. Historically speaking the East End was too rough weather wise for year round living except for the hail and hearty fishermen and farmers and their families. Most other inhabitants were seasonal. That was for a reason. And as far as contamination - look at the car wash - their waste water goes straight into the aquifer ...more
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Apr 7, 16 5:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
ALL boils down to big $$ an lawsuits shutting everything down that they don't like about their summer play ground. They win and the locals PAY the price! This has to stop!
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Apr 9, 16 7:11 PM
This totally sucks. The town is making a mistake here. That facility serves a purpose for the community. I wonder if all of a sudden North Sea landfill is going to start selling Mulch by the yard???? HUH .......
Place is croooooookkkkkeeeeddd!!!!
You can't have it both ways. All the estates and Mansions you allowed to go up need to be serviced. That facility was a staple in that being able to happen.
Dont blame the place for water contamination. They are just as guilty as every ...more
By Hank1 (20), Sag Harbor on Apr 14, 16 6:40 AM