Although a New York State Supreme Court justice did not issue the requested temporary restraining order, opponents of a recent settlement between the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Sand Land mining and composting operation in Noyac have been given some additional time to plead their case.
Justice Kimberly O’Connor last week ordered both sides back to court on Tuesday, April 30, to present additional arguments. In the meantime, she extended until May 3 a public-comment period on the DEC’s controversial decision to give Sand Land another eight years to mine the site off Millstone Road after just last fall announcing it would rescind the company’s mining permit.
Southampton Town, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, the Noyac Civic Council, environmental groups, and neighboring property owners, including several limited liability corporations related to the Bridge golf course, filed suit in Albany County on April 17, seeking to overturn the settlement.
Southampton Town attorney James Burke said Sand Land and Wainscott Sand and Gravel had agreed to not disturb a three-acre area commonly called the “stump dump” until after that conference.
Opponents of Sand Land say the sandmining operation, which grew to include the recycling of construction debris and composting of tree stumps, leaves, and other vegetative waste, posed a threat to the groundwater. Those concerns were heightened when a study by the Suffolk County Department of Health services revealed elevated levels of heavy metals, including lead and manganese, and other pollutants at the site.
Last fall, noting that there was little, if any, sand left at the site, the DEC announced it would rescind Sand Land’s permit and order it reclaim the site, but last month, the DEC reversed course and said it had agreed to an eight-year-extension of the permit and would give Sand Land another two years after that to reclaim the site.
“We want an explanation as to how you go from saying on September 10 there is no more sand to giving them eight more years,” Burke said on April 22.
Besides raising environmental concerns, the suit claims the DEC has erroneously allowed Sand Land to expand its mining operation by including the three-acre stump dump and other areas that were supposed to have been reclaimed already.