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Hazardous

File photo

The waste is hazardous, but the accomplishment is healthy.

The Town of Smithtown marked a major milestone this week as it wrapped up its regular household hazardous waste collection event on April 23, clocking in a new record of more than 76 tons of hazardous materials being sent to safe disposal sites.

The event was held with help from Radiac Research Corporation in Brooklyn, which won the contract for the specialized and regulated event through a competitive bidding process, town officials said. Smithtown Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R) said the town paid $15,694 to run the event, but will be reimbursed one-half the cost by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“The success of our household hazardous waste collection program continues to grow,” Vecchio said. “Participating in a household hazardous waste collection event allows people to clean out their garages and basements, and safely dispose of old chemicals. It also heightens awareness that not everything offered for sale is a good thing to buy and use around our homes and families.”

By the end of the April 23 event, Smithtown tallied 716 families participating, resulting in 152,905 pounds of household hazardous material being collected. The most notable items, the town said, included decades-old bottles of long banned pesticides. Additional materials included oil-based paints, gasoline, paint thinners, waste gases, degreaser, solvents, flammable solids, liquid and solid oxiders, acids, corrosives, miscellaneous toxic liquids and solids, lacquers and various toxic compounds.

The town holds events like this annually to help ensure safe and proper disposal of such hazardous materials. If disposed of improperly, they can be damaging to the environment or to human health.

Smithtown has been regularly hosting such events to residents since 2009. Over time, the town said, the amount of material collected has increased more than tenfold.

“We should all try to minimize or avoid buying toxic products in the first place,” Vecchio said.

The next Smithtown hazardous waste collection event will be held on Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Municipal Services Facility located at 85 Old Northport Road in Kings Park.

Town officials are limiting development at the former site of Lawrence Aviation Industries. File photo

By Elana Glowatz & Erika Karp

Brookhaven Town will restrict development at a polluted site in Port Jefferson Station using a special zoning district.

The town board approved the new zoning for the former property of aircraft-parts manufacturer Lawrence Aviation Industries on Thursday night, several months after approving a land use plan for the site off Sheep Pasture Road that called for the special district.

Adjacent to a stretch of the Greenway Trail and some residences in the northern part of the hamlet, the site requires closer inspection because of its history — Lawrence Aviation dumped harmful chemicals at the site over years, contaminating soil and groundwater. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have been working for several years to undo the damage through the federal Superfund program, which cleans up such contaminations of hazardous materials, but it could still take two more decades to completely clean local groundwater.

Brookhaven’s land use plan recommended the special zoning district to limit potential commercial uses at the contaminated site in the future — for instance, some uses that would be permissible in light industry zoning elsewhere in town will not be permitted at Lawrence Aviation, like agriculture, churches, day cares, recreation halls or schools. It does not support retail uses, but does not rule out office uses like laboratories and other research space.

The new district includes two zones — at the property and at nearby residential sites — and seeks to “protect those who occupy the site,” according to Beth Reilly, a deputy town attorney.

In addition to restricting some uses and prohibiting residential development in the former industrial area, it provides incentives such as speedier environmental reviews and eased requirements for lot setbacks and sizes to promote alternative energy production there, particularly solar energy.

To further protect residents, no new homes constructed in the neighborhood area of the special district could have basements, due to the contamination to local soil and groundwater.

Reilly was quick to point out that this didn’t mean the town was moving backward —all existing basements could stay.

The basement ban goes hand in hand with legislation the town passed last year that requires all new homes built near contaminated properties like Lawrence Aviation to be tested for soil vapors before they can receive certificates of occupancy.

The Lawrence Aviation zoning district passed, following a public hearing, with an abstention from Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), who reiterated his opinion that the site should remain undeveloped. He also renewed his call for Suffolk County to add the property to its land bank or use it for open space so it could “heal itself.”

When Romaine first made that suggestion in the fall, he pointed to the $12 million lien the county had on the site, resulting from all the property taxes owed on the site. The EPA has another $25 million lien on the property due to the cost of the cleanup.

Councilmembers Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) and Dan Panico (R-Mastic) have supported the idea.

“I really think the county should consider this for an acquisition into their land bank,” Panico said Thursday.

The Suffolk County Land Bank Corporation, established in 2013, aims to rehabilitate contaminated properties, known as brownfields, to get them back on the county’s property tax roll. The county pays property taxes on abandoned parcels, which causes the tax liens on the properties — and thus their sale prices — to increase, but the land bank lets the county sell the properties for less than the taxes owed, making it easier to get them cleaned up and redeveloped.

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