HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island judge ordered the temporary shutdown of a controversial mulching and wood-chipping operation on Thursday. Residents claim it’s both smelly and illegal.
Across from the famed Oheka Castle on the border splitting Nassau and Suffolk counties sits an 18-acre mulching business that many local residents claim is a polluting eyesore.
“I have three children here. I’d like to know what he’s burning. I’d like to know what’s in the mulch that’s putting out methane. No one’s doing any air quality tests,” Huntington homeowner Gregory Apostle told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Homeowners who live adjacent to the site say for more than a decade, they’ve called the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forestry Service and Department of Environmental Conservation.
They have also called the towns of Oyster Bay and Huntington to express fears about spontaneous combustion, noise and odor.
“The smell from the wood chips in the last few years has been just disgusting and it’s all the time,” Laura Shady said.
Huntington has taken the owners to court in violation of state code, which prohibits storing and processing compost without a required emergency plan and town code which prohibits “open” burning.
“Fumes that are emanating from that pile would be noxious, obviously,” said Huntington Fire Marshal Paul Latuso.
The fire marshal said a 25-foot-high mulch pile burst into flame earlier this week and Thursday a judge ordered a temporary shut down of “Big Doug Enterprises” and the ranch next door.
Owner John Dougal asked his son to speak for him.
“Buying your houses around here, you knew where you were buying, because we’ve been here since 1956. They let us run all these years and now they want to shut us down? It makes no sense,” said Erik Murray.
But the town hopes a shutdown and cleanup are on the horizon.
“We’re very happy that there seems to be progress here, finally after many, many years,” said a spokesman for the Town of Huntington.
Waiting in the wings is a private developer, who also wants the mulch and horse farm closed, the acreage rezoned and turned into luxury senior housing.
There will be a hearing on the mulch farm next week in Riverhead State Supreme Court. Both sides and mediators plan to attend.
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