VERNON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Neighbors and town officials have been fighting for years to have a giant, 75-foot high pile of dirt and debris removed from one man’s property in Vernon Township.
He’s been ordered by a court to start removing some of it, but so far, he hasn’t budged, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reports.
The pile on Silver Spruce Drive isn’t the only thing that’s grown over the years. So too has the anger of neighbors.
“When the trucks come and they dump, there’s a dust cloud,” one neighbor said.
“Most of it came from Wayne from a Costco project,” homeowner Joseph Wallace said.
Wallace says he was looking for fill after a washout on his property.
“Dirt and class B recyclables,” he said.
He says the materials came from a handful of businesses.
“Recycling centers, masonry yards,” he said.
Neighbors say a sign reading “STOP WORK ORDER IN EFFECT, NO FILL MATERIAL ALLOWED” was put up a couple of years ago, but it did little to stop what was going on until the state stepped in to enforce it.
“Things that we considered solid hazardous waste in there. Eventually, the DEP finally tested it,” said Vernon Township Mayor Harry Shortway.
Back in March, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection did testing of fill material that “identified contamination levels in the soil that exceeded New Jersey’s Residential Direct Contact Soil Remediation standards.”
That includes elevated levels of PCBs and pesticides.
After the state alleged Wallace was operating a solid waste facility without a permit, he was given a court order to provide documentation about where the materials came from, what exactly they were, to place funds aside for removal of solid waste in pile and for him to start removing it.
But the state now says he hasn’t fulfilled the order.
“They already have the documents,” Wallace said.
As for removing the pile, Wallace says he hasn’t touched anything yet and he’s “waiting for council.”
Now, the state has filed another motion asking to impose fines of more than $100,000 a day to get him to comply.
The state says those fines would come from violations under the solid waste management act and the water pollution control act. He’s being asked to remove whatever is considered solid waste.