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Northville Industries

Ted Sklar, a neighbor of the Northville property raises concerns over proposed development at the April 29 meeting. Photo by Mallie Jane Kim
Gas company is planning to develop its East Setauket property

By Mallie Jane Kim 

Residents expressed grave concerns about Northville Industries’ plans to develop its East Setauket fuel tank farm at a sometimes rowdy April 29 public gathering in Ward Melville High School’s auditorium.

About 200 people attended, with several shouting out and heckling during Northville’s initial presentation, which company lawyer Tim Shea had to end prematurely to allow attendees to speak.

“We’re here to listen to everybody,” Shea said, referring to a controversial proposed driveway on Upper Sheep Pasture Road. “If everybody here says no curb cut on Sheep Pasture and the [Town of Brookhaven] agrees, it’ll be no curb cut on Sheep Pasture.”

Throughout the two-and-a-half hour meeting, which Northville hosted to see if residents prefer a within-zoning plan for large warehouses or a townhouse-style multifamily rental community that would require rezoning, Shea reiterated the company would be willing to listen and compromise — and he certainly got an earful.

Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), who was present as an observer at the meeting alongside town Supervisor Dan Panico (R), has been clear about his opposition to multifamily residences near the tanks, but Northville representatives indicated they hoped the meeting would inspire residents to petition councilmembers to approve rezoning. They also pointed out their plan has residences set back from the tanks a distance in keeping with legal requirements.

“Industrial is our highest and best use that we’re permitted to do,” said Steve Ripp, CEO of NIC Holding Corp, which owns Northville. “Multifamily is what we feel is the highest and best use in general, but would require community support to really request that.”

The answer was a resounding “neither” from most attendees, some of whom had specific concerns about impact on traffic, safety and the environment, while others expressed deep suspicion of the company’s trustworthiness. 

“These people have not been good neighbors,” accused one woman who said she has spent most of her life living close enough to see the tanks from her home and worried about the impact on property values. “You’re not only taking our finances away but you’re taking away the ability for us to even enjoy our homes,” she said, suggesting the light, sound, air and noise pollution would ruin her ability to garden in peace in her backyard. 

“You’ve been a thorn in this community’s side for over 50 years,” she added.

Northville’s rationale

The company’s plans to develop come with an eye toward the future and diversifying revenue streams, according to Ripp, who mentioned moves toward electrification of home heating and car engines could mean the eventual phasing out of fossil fuels.

“Obviously that’s going to have a significant impact, and our business is going to decline,” Ripp said, estimating the tanks would be phased out in about 30 years. “It would be a bad situation for Suffolk County to lose its only gasoline delivery point before the population is ready.”

He indicated the proposed industrial development could bring an estimated $600,000 in property tax to the community, while the residential project could bring about $1.5 million — with the caveat that either project may win a deferred tax relief benefit. 

Ripp did not shy away from discussing the leak of 1.2 million gallons over a decade from a fuel storage tank in the 1980s, which roiled the surrounding neighborhood for years.

“Since that time, Northville has moved — in the last 35 years — tens of billions of gallons through our facilities with no operational mishaps to speak of,” he said, mentioning the company stayed open to supply fuel during Hurricane Sandy and that it hosts New York State’s strategic fuel reserve.

A subsequent search of New York State’s spill incidents database turned up seven spills on Belle Mead Road from 1998 through 2019, four of which specifically name Northville. The database does not include details, such as how big those spills were.

In a phone call, Ripp clarified that Northville must report spills as small as a gallon, so that number of minor spills over 25 years actually reinforces his assertion.”

At the meeting, he also touted Northville’s philanthropic giving and said the company doesn’t do enough to counterbalance its poor reputation in the community by sharing its good deeds.

Several attendees who spoke publicly, and those who shouted out from the audience, didn’t buy it.

“Thank you for pointing out how generous Northville Industries is, how environmentally conscious you are,” cracked one speaker, who identified himself as a business professor who has lived in the neighborhood adjacent to Northville for 27 years. He worried that if the company received a new zoning designation, they’d wind up developing the entire property, and called for the community to fight the proposals at Town Hall. “Otherwise, Northville Industries will make your life miserable,” he said.

While a couple of speakers suggested they’d prefer housing over warehouses if they had to choose, other attendees suggested the company put in a solar farm, find a way to contribute more taxes so residents could have relief, or create a philanthropic foundation to form additional greenway space on the property. The most popular suggestion was for a government entity to purchase the property to prevent development, but the price of such a move would be high, and Ripp indicated the Town of Brookhaven has not expressed an appetite for it.

Englebright calls for environmental study

One particularly hot topic for the crowd was the accusation that Northville is trying to avoid a complete environmental impact study — something lawyer Shea acknowledged Northville didn’t believe was required in this case.

As the crowd grew increasingly frustrated and passionate, Suffolk County Legislator Steve Englebright (D- Setauket), who has a long history of environmental action in state and county government, stepped up to the mic. He empathized with commenters and made clear his position that the project should trigger an environmental study with the town.

“Seven hundred trucks? Housing next to explosive liquids and vapors?” he said, to applause. “This is a critical groundwater area.”

Englebright also questioned the motives behind the meeting altogether.

“There is every likelihood that this is an initiative to scare the hell out of you to get their way on an alternative that they do not have an as of right for,” he said, and indicated he would continue watching the Northville situation.

Late in the meeting, one speaker acknowledged that Northville is a company that exists to make money, which is normal in American society, but made a call for the company to live up to its claim of being a good neighbor by listening to the concerns expressed throughout the night. 

“At the end of the day, everybody from Amazon to the guy that sells Ralph’s ice cream in Port Jeff needs to make money,” he said. “Come back to the community at some point saying, ‘We heard you.’ Come back and be a good neighbor.”

Northville Industries posters offers two visions for development of their South Setauket property on March 28. Photo by Mallie Jane Kim

The company wants to hear whether neighbors prefer warehouses or rental housing

By Mallie Jane Kim

Northville Industries is ready to try again to discuss with community members the planned development of its East Setauket property, this time at Ward Melville High School’s auditorium, which can seat about 900 people — significantly more than the hotel meeting room rented for the attempted March 25 meeting, which had to be canceled when so many residents showed up they surpassed capacity, forming a fire hazard.

In a letter to residents about the new meeting, which will be Monday, April 29, at 7 p.m., Northville is clear in its determination toward development — whether warehouses, which would be within current zoning designations, or residential rental units, which would require rezoning.

“It is the intention of Northville to move forward with the development of the property,” Northville president, Peter St. Germaine, wrote in the letter. “Prior to pressing ahead for the approval of the industrial development, Northville is seeking community feedback to determine whether the residential option would be preferred by those who would be most impacted by the future development of the site.”

Any site plan for the East Setauket property, bordered by Belle Mead and Upper Sheep Pasture roads, will have to go through a planning approval process with Brookhaven Town Board. 

The current Northville plan includes addition of 220,000 square feet of industrial warehouses, 77 loading docks for tractor trailers and trucks, also 593 employee parking spaces. The alternative plan includes 140 residential rental units with a club house and pool, plus 335 parking spaces for residents and guests.

Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) has been clear in his opposition to rezoning the property to allow town house-style rentals, due to the proximity of the proposed residences to large fuel storage tanks, and the lack of proximity to the kinds of infrastructure that makes higher-density housing appealing: public transportation, retail and major roadways. 

“I don’t think that wrapping a rental community around the gas tanks is appropriate land use,” he said, adding that though the Three Village area needs more housing, any extra units need to go in places that make more sense logistically. “I don’t think that area over there — that intersection especially — is looking for that kind of intensification of traffic.”

Kornreich said he also does not think the kind of mega-warehouses proposed are appropriate for the area either, pointing to nearby properties on Belle Mead Road that have integrated lighter industrial uses into the community successfully.

“I would encourage Northville to explore something that is going to be a less intensive use,” he said. “I am hoping they’ll find their way to a third option.”

St. Germaine’s letter also gave residents the option of emailing written comments to: [email protected].


Three Village Civic Association emblem. Photo courtesy Three Village Civic Association Facebook page

Group also hears pros and cons of village incorporation, LIPA advocacy

By Mallie Jane Kim

Three Village Civic Association leaders have “serious concerns” about the proposed development of the Northville property in East Setauket, according to the association’s land use chair Herb Mones. 

At the April 1 meeting, Mones said he and other civic association leaders had expressed their reservations to Northville in a few conversations at Brookhaven Town Hall — but that the community’s impact was key. 

“I want to congratulate everybody,” Mones said of those who showed up to a March 25 meeting Northville hosted to share their dual proposals of building warehouses or multifamily rental units alongside their petroleum storage tanks. That meeting had to be canceled because an overabundance of attendees created a fire hazard in the rented hotel meeting room. 

“I think that was pivotal in any further discussions in regards to the development at Northville,” he said.

Mones added that in his 30-plus years on the civic board, he has never seen a developer go directly to the community to air such ideas. Rather, he said, they usually go through the local civic association to invite input from local residents. 

He also expressed confidence in the area’s elected officials for their representation of community concerns over the development. But he believes the overcapacity meeting sent a strong message. 

“Without that participation, I think we would start to see different outcomes,” Mones said. “I think it made it very clear that this community is very involved in any development.”

When canceling the March meeting, a lawyer for Northville said the company would find a larger venue to accommodate citizens for the rescheduled meeting and expressed a strong desire to hear any community concerns about the proposals.

Village incorporation explained

The civic association also heard about the benefits of village incorporation, which include local control over zoning, site plan approvals and traffic safety. 

“Every day, decisions are being made that have a direct impact on us and our families,” explained municipal lawyer and longtime Three Village resident Joseph Prokop in his presentation. “When you have a village, the people making those decisions are people that live in your community and are being affected the same way that you are.”

Prokop explained there are ways to predict whether and how taxes would change under incorporation, but that varies from village to village, depending on what services the village opts to provide.

He mentioned nearby incorporated villages included Port Jefferson, Belle Terre, Poquott, Old Field, Lake Grove and Head of the Harbor. 

Civic association board member George Hoffman said after the meeting that Three Village currently has a good relationship with the Town of Brookhaven, but there’s something appealing about incorporating. “I like the idea that it’s your own neighbors you go to in making the decisions,” he said.

Hoffman and other board members stressed that incorporation is just a hypothetical at this point. If there was a significant push or reason to explore it seriously, the next step would be to form an exploratory committee. 

A big question in incorporating the Three Village area, according to Prokop, might be what exactly to name it.

Ronald McDonald House update

In another presentation of community interest, Sam Ostler, capital campaign manager of Ronald McDonald House Charities, announced the group is planning to break ground on its facility near Stony Brook University Children’s Hospital on April 30. He said it will be a 30-room Ronald McDonald House and will serve about 300,000 people over the next 10 years. 

“Not one person has ever regretted staying at a Ronald McDonald House,” Ostler said. “They may look back on it as a very traumatic time — we have many heartbreaking stories — but they always look back on a place that was a home for them.”

Ostler said the charity had already raised 80% of the $30 million necessary to build the facility, and it will be working to complete the fundraising in coming months.

LIPA advocates speak

Area residents JoAnne Doesschate and Jane Fasullo asked citizens to consider making Long Island Power Authority its own public utility, rather than continuing to contract out to PSEG Long Island, a change proponents estimate would save $80 million per year.

Lawmakers in Albany are currently examining an option to end its relationship with the for-profit power provider when its contract expires in 2025, allowing LIPA to run the grid itself — essentially changing leadership, as the contracted union workers would remain on the job. 

“PSEG lobbyists are pushing to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Doesschate said. “And so we need all of you to make sure it does happen.”

Doesschate and Fasullo, who said they have been involved in advocacy organization Reimagine LIPA for several years, pointed to the fact that Long Island electricity rates are among the highest in the nation. In addition to saving money, they said, it would be better to keep money spent on power local. 

“You’re giving all this money to a for-profit company in New Jersey, and we could keep it here,” Doesschate said.

Not everyone at the meeting agreed. One attendee said he had experience as an electrician interacting with the power company and questioned whether a public agency would do a better job at setting the standards for responsiveness to citizens. 

“They’ve been doing a really good job the past years,” he said of PSEGLI. “Some people may not agree with me, but I can tell you from experience, they’ve been working really hard.”

Civic association president Charles Tramontana welcomed the lively discussion and said community-interest presentations are what the association is all about.

“Whether you agree or disagree, at least you get information here and you can decide for yourself,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons we like to facilitate different speakers coming in.”

Northville Industries posters offered two visions for development of their South Setauket property. Photo by Mallie Jane Kim
Elected officials stayed to discuss concerns after residents meeting canceled due to overcapacity

By Mallie Jane Kim

Setauket residents showed up in force to a March 25 meeting about the proposed development of a Northville Industries property bordered by Belle Mead and Upper Sheep Pasture roads in East Setauket. In fact, so many showed up to the Holiday Inn Express in Centereach that the meeting had to be canceled and rescheduled due to fire hazard.

But that didn’t stop meaningful discussion about the issue, as Northville representatives and local elected officials stayed behind to dig into concerns and contentions.

At issue is a site plan Northville sent to neighbors proposing the addition of three giant warehouses to its property, which also houses a collection of gas storage tanks. The idea has already proved unpopular with residents, and though Northville has submitted the plan to the Town of Brookhaven, it has not been reviewed or approved. The Monday meeting was arranged by Northville, without town involvement. 

Also on the table was a secondary plan Northville representatives touted: multifamily rental homes. Posters displayed in the meeting room depicted the two options, namely one concept-design poster of grey monolithic warehouses next to another filled with bright, landscaped townhome photos from Westfield Green in Selden. There were also two site plan maps indicating where the proposed warehouses would go, and where a potential 140 rental units could sit. 

“No new multifamily residential units have been built in this particular zip code in 25 years,” said Northville CEO Steve Ripp after residents had left the hotel. “I think there is a benefit for folks who would like to remain within the community but no longer want to have their single family home for whatever reason.”

Northville representatives suggested such rentals could serve older residents who want more flexibility than maintaining a freestanding house allows, as well as university students or young adults who want to stay in the area but can’t afford a single family home.

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) pushed back against the idea that the housing plan was a better option.

“If they have an as of right [to build within their industrial zoning], they should do it and do it right,” he said. “But to do a swap for high-density residential, such as you would find in central Queens or Brooklyn, is unacceptable.”

Englebright added that neither Northville proposal was “ready for prime time,” as the town has not come back with suggestions, and there hasn’t been an environmental review.

Allowing Northville to change zones to add multifamily homes, according to Englebright, could open the floodgates for other light industrial property owners around Brookhaven to do the same, leading to overdevelopment. 

Englebright emphasized that Northville is important to the area’s infrastructure as a provider of fuel for automobiles and homes, though he said the number of people who showed up to the meeting reflects how controversial any development will be.

“The community is a suburban community,” Englebright said. “Proposing urban density here is the beginning of the end of our way of life. And that’s unacceptable.”

Ripp pushed back against the suggestion that multifamily rentals would change the character of the community, and said concerns over traffic were “alarmist” since warehouse trucks would travel at off-peak hours. 

“We’re building something,” said Ripp, adding that the company hasn’t developed its property in over 25 years. He said the meeting presentation was intended to see what the community preferred.

Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), who also stayed after the meeting, said Long Island infrastructure is already at carrying capacity, and the company was not presenting a real choice. 

“Not that I would equate this in a moral sense,” he said, “but if someone comes up to you on the street with a gun and says, ‘Your money or your life,’ you are being offered a choice, right?”

But Ripp said it was unreasonable to expect Northville to stick with the status quo.

“If [people] don’t want it developed, they should talk to the Town of Brookhaven to say, ‘Buy the land from Northville,’” Ripp said. “You can do what you’re permitted to do with your land.”

Meeting rescheduled, community reacts

Earlier in the evening, the meeting room, which hotel staff said had a capacity of 100 people, quickly filled beyond capacity, with residents crowding into standing room. More were waiting to ride up the elevators to the sixth floor, and more still were unsuccessfully circling the parking lot to find spots, with some reportedly attempting to park along Route 347.

“We got a great community turnout, more than we possibly could have anticipated,” said Northville lawyer Timothy Shea, who indicated they would find a larger place to host the meeting next time. “We want to hear what everybody has to say.”

Residents filing out of the room when the meeting was canceled primarily expressed frustration and suspicion.

“It’s a disaster,” said Kerry Menendez, who lives on Storyland Lane, close to the Northville site. Menendez suggested the company’s lack of preparation for a big turnout was indicative of how she thought they’d handle any development in the future. “And with their track record — how they’re showing their face in this community right now, I don’t even know.”

That track record includes a 1.2 million gallon gas leak, revealed in 1988, which some meeting attendees remembered first hand. Like Corinne Keane, who grew up on Robin Hood Lane and lives in the same neighborhood now. Her home was in the area affected by the spill, and she said she remembers a testing well dug at her family’s front curb, and men in gear frequently testing the level of contamination there. Her family was part of the settlement Northville paid out to homeowners. 

“They paid our families, which didn’t change anything because the home values were significantly affected by it,” she said.

Keane is not a fan of any development on the Northville site, and not only because of the history. “It’s going to bring traffic,” she said, especially if the company is successful at getting a driveway put in on Upper Sheep Pasture Road, something the town has said is not allowed. “It’s a blind curve. It’s going to create a lot of accidents, and the traffic is going to be backed up,” Keane said.

According to Ripp, the plans are still in the early stages, and he said Northville didn’t rule out structural improvements like widening Belle Mead Road, for example. 

He also addressed the company’s environmental background. “People are traumatized by what happened to them, and for good reason,” he said, pointing out how terrible it was that a plume penetrated the ground under homes — but also that it was an accident that happened due to a tiny hole in a pipe, and despite Northville following industry regulations. 

“It was a terrible thing for Northville also,” he said, indicating loss of inventory as well as the money paid out in cleanup efforts, damages and settlements. In all of it, Ripp said, Northville stuck it out and didn’t declare bankruptcy to absolve themselves of making things right — and that the environmental fines went on to provide the seed money to preserve the Pine Barrens area of Brookhaven. “That turned a really horrible situation into something with long-lasting benefits,” he said.

Ripp also pointed out that cleanup was completed 20 years ago, and the company has faithfully provided fuel for the community in all that time. “I think we have been a good neighbor. We have supplied [gas] safely and consistently. Through all weather events and what have you, Northville has always been there,” he said. “It’s disappointing that we never get absolved of that [spill].”

Kornreich asked if Northville would apply that idea of being a good neighbor if the town continued to reject rezoning for multifamily residences and the community protested the idea of a major industrial build. 

“Would you listen to the community and say, ‘OK, we’ll look for something that’s a little bit lower intensity?’” he asked.

Ripp said no. “That simply doesn’t have anything to do with integrity — we have land rights, we have property rights,” he said. “We are a business, you know, we’re trying to make money from this. We have rights, too.”

Proposed site plan. Photo courtesy R+M Engineering

By Mallie Jane Kim

South Setauket may see three mega-warehouses with 77 loading stalls for tractor trailers, if a site plan by Northville Industries goes through. The petroleum storage and distribution company sent a letter to neighbors explaining the plan and inviting comment at a public meeting in the Centereach Holiday Inn Express set for Monday, March 25.

“This is an area that’s underserved for warehouse uses,” Northville’s lawyer Tim Shea said. “Most of the warehouses are by the freeway or on the South Shore.”

But that’s not the only plan on the table.

Shea indicated the company would also present the option of multifamily housing: “We had discussed the alternative of doing multifamily, and we plan to offer that alternative to the neighbors at that meeting.” 

Town board approval required

The property, bordered by Upper Sheep Pasture Road and Belle Mead Road, is zoned for industrial use, and that zoning would need to be changed to add an apartment complex or townhome community, for example. 

But that suggestion has already faced pushback at the town level.

Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) acknowledged Northville had approached him about rezoning for multifamily homes, something he is against. “I told them it’s not an appropriate site next to the gas tanks, and in the middle of this other neighborhood,” he said.

Shea contends any multifamily housing would meet setback requirements from the tanks, adding that he’s familiar with other areas of the country that have housing similarly situated near tanks like the ones in Setauket.

Kornreich, who deals closely with land use and zoning issues in his role on the town council, said he has seen developers in other situations use a “carrot and stick” method to rally community support: Asking for what they truly want but, in the face of resistance, offering something that might sound worse but is within their rights to build. Kornreich said he’d be curious to see if that is the strategy in this case. 

“Sometimes communities are given a false choice,” he said.

The potential “false choice” in this case is a proposed addition of a driveway onto Upper Sheep Pasture Road, where traffic is already tricky and not built for large trucks. At issue is a stipulation in a zoning lawsuit settlement from the 1990s, which contains a stipulation that, according to Shea, permits Northville to add a driveway north onto Sheep Pasture Road. According to Kornreich, the town’s legal department disagrees. 

In any case, Northville would still need town board approval. Kornreich said he would oppose a site plan if it includes that driveway, and he sees no reason his councilmember colleagues would break with him on this issue. 

“It would be extremely unlikely for them to override a decision in my district, especially over something as small as the position of a driveway,” he said, pointing to the respect among current board members.

Local reaction

George Hoffman, one of the Three Village Civic Association leaders who attended meetings between Kornreich and Northville, expressed grave concerns about adding that driveway on Upper Sheep Pasture. “It really jams up — it’s not a good corner,” Hoffman said. “This could be one of those last-mile warehouses where you have those trucks coming in and out, and the quality of life for people who live on those streets is really going to be impacted.”

Shea said Northville does not have a contract in place for use of the proposed warehouses, so it’s not decided who the final user would be and what the warehouses would be used for. 

He added that Northville sent its notification letter even more broadly than required by town code out of a desire to interact with the neighbors, and indicated the company has heard the concerns about a northern driveway. “When we did our traffic analysis,” he said, “it came out that having the entrance on Sheep Pasture Road would actually lessen the impact on traffic to the area, rather than pushing everything to Belle Mead Road.”

But Hoffman, who is also a water quality advocate and has raised concerns about Northville in the past, wishes the gas company would be more willing to work with community representatives, especially in light of its environmental record. In 1988, Northville revealed it had suffered a slow gas leak of about 1.2 million gallons of gasoline into the ground at the Setauket property, which, according to news articles at the time, led to years of remediation, $25 million in damages and repairs and a $7.2 million settlement with homeowners who said their property values had declined in the aftermath of the spill.

“They have a terrible environmental history,” Hoffman said. “Why do they want to be so confrontational to the community and to the town?”

For his part, Kornreich does not see a problem with new warehouses per se, as long as trucks are not funneled onto the residential Sheep Pasture Road. He said warehouses are within Northville’s industrial zoning rights, and they could help diversify the area’s economy while providing good-paying jobs. 

“You’ve got to have some industrial space around, and that’s the space for it,” Kornreich said. “You’re not cutting down trees, and it’s on land that’s not being used for anything else.”

Traffic disruption is only one of the concerns for nearby residents, though. Gillian Maser, who lives nearby on Upper Sheep Pasture Road and within sight distance of the large gas tanks, said she is also concerned about the environmental impact and noise pollution in a relatively quiet, family community. 

“I’m trying to stay as objective as possible, but there are definitely some red flags on this one,” Maser said. “With 77 tractor trailer bays, there could be a lot of noise in the middle of the night, with trucks loading and unloading.”

Maser said she and her husband are hoping to attend the March 25 meeting. 

Northville Industries is located on Beach Street in Port Jefferson, where barges full of oil come to dock and unload the fuel, which is pumped through pipelines to a location in East Setauket and then to Holtsville. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Town of Brookhaven has renewed leases on two entities in Port Jefferson Harbor, but one of those operations has local environmentalists a little concerned.

The Town voted unanimously Jan. 30 to renew the lease for the Port Jefferson/Setauket Yacht Club (which is more known as simply the Port Jefferson Yacht Club) as well as the Melville-headquartered Northville Industries for use in its underwater and uplands properties on the eastern end of the harbor. The licensee has operated in that location since 1975, according to Town attorney Annette Eaderesto.

The yacht club’s lease has gone up to $35,100 for 20 years with a 3 percent annual increase. The club’s land includes around .892 acre underwater and 2.723 acres upland, including the club facilities.

“Oil transport is inherently a dirty operation.”

— George Hoffman

Northville’s operation has oil being brought in on ship or barge to the Port Jeff terminal, where it is shipped via either of two 16-inch pipelines up to its storage farm in East Setauket before moving on to a Holtsville terminal via a 12-inch pipeline, according to the company’s website. 

The oil transport company’s lease now increases to $77,322 based on a new appraisal, which includes around $40K for the underwater portion and around $37K for the upland portion. The company has agreed to pay slightly more than what the upland portion was appraised for. The 20-year term is set to increase annually by 3 percent. The company has had the lease since 1975, and the Town attorney said the company has not had any claims against the town.

George Hoffman, the co-founder of Setauket Harbor Task Force, said he had several concerns over the company’s continued engagement with the harbor. His group has been doing more and more testing of the Port Jefferson harbor in the past two years, having just finished the second season of testing. He asked for strict liability regarding the oil transport company.

“Oil transport is inherently a dirty operation,” he said. “There’s always tiny spills, no matter how hard they work there is always going to be problems.”

Eaderesto said Northville does not post a bond in case of any ruptures, and any spills are handled by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Miller Marine Services, a regional company with a site right next to the oil transport company, is there for immediate response. 

Steven Ripp, the chief operating officer of NIC Holding Corp., the parent company of Northville, denied there has been any leaking or spills into the harbor from their operations, further arguing the company would be able to contain any major spills into the immediate area of their operations on the harbor’s east end.

“There are never any minor spills, not even a gallon,” he said. “If there is a spillage whatsoever, we have to immediately report it to DEC and take swift action.”

Northville has been previously cited by the DEC. In 1987, Northville notified the DEC of a gasoline leak at its East Setauket site of approximately 1.2 million gallons that had leaked into the ground over a 10-year period. That gasoline had penetrated into the ground and reached the water table 100 feet below the surface. 

The company had settled with the DEC for a $25 million cleanup plan after the spill. In 2006, after a long and complicated cleanup process, the DEC reported Northville had completed all remediation.

In a later interview, Hoffman said he came away from the public hearing with more concerns, not less, especially concerning the overall health of the Port Jefferson Harbor and the age of the pipelines running over into East Setauket.

“This is going to be potentially 30 years — I didn’t feel comfortable about that,” he said.

When asked, the general manager at Northville, Peter St. Germaine, did not relate anything about the age of the pipe, instead saying it is frequently inspected by the state. 

“There are never any minor spills, not even a gallon.”

— Steven Ripp

A spokesperson for the state DEC said the agency inspects the facilities for petroleum bulk storage and major oil storage facility regulations. Recent inspections were performed in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2018. The DEC also conducts a review of the facility license renewal application, testing of certain tanks and secondary containment areas, and groundwater results from 12 monitoring wells at the East Setauket location, as well as two monitoring wells at the Beach Street site. The wells are sampled every six months.

Eaderesto said the town is able to back out of any lease at any time should the need arise. 

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said he is aware of the need for attention paid to Port Jefferson Harbor, especially considering the effluent from both Stony Brook University and Port Jeff treatment plants flows into the harbor as well.

Ripp said the location received hundreds of barges of oil a year, and through their pipelines run hundreds of millions of gallons, “safely” every year. 

“It is a critical facility for the Town of Brookhaven,” he added.

Northville isn’t the only industrial company to work close to the harbor. Along Beach Street in Port Jeff the Tilcon quarry is constantly operating with heavy moving equipment. The area also includes the LIPA power station to the north of both operations.   

Romaine said his concern was the location and that the lease would conflict with plans of a joint venture of Ørsted and Eversource to make Port Jeff a hub for planned wind turbines off the coast of Montauk. However, the town attorney said the lease is just an extension of a lease that has been in effect for several years.

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said she had initial concerns regarding community comments and ensuring proper liability coverage, but those concerns had been assuaged by the town law department, and she thanked the company for, “being a good licensee over the years.”

Both leases for upland and underwater land were set to expire April 30, 2020. The new license terms go 20 years with the availability of two 5-year extension options for the town.

A barge used by Northville Industries in Port Jefferson Harbor. File photo

A 2010 “legislative oversight” caused a stir between Port Jefferson Village and an oil company with decades-old roots in the community, though the village announced Aug. 7 during a public meeting the case has been settled.

As part of the settlement, with Northville Industries, a petroleum storage, distribution and wholesale company with property on the shores of Port Jefferson Harbor, the village agreed to amend a previously deleted section of its code. The village held a public hearing to discuss changes to permitted uses of marina waterfront-zoned parcels during the Aug. 7 meeting.

In 1976, the zone where Northville’s dock facility on Beach Street in Port Jeff was housed, and continues to be, was changed from an industrial to a marina waterfront. The change made Northville’s Port Jeff facility, which is used to take in petroleum deliveries by ship or barge that are then transported around Long Island, nonconforming to the village code. During the hearing, Village Attorney Brian Egan explained that the change was fought up to the New York State Supreme Court in 1976, and the site was granted conditional uses within the MW district, which allowed their decades-old operation to continue functioning.

In 2010 the village, to create multiple marina waterfront districts identified as MW-1, MW-2 and MW-3 drafted new legislation. The Northville property is located within MW-1. That legislation identified several permitted uses within marina waterfront districts, including recreational marinas, boat launching facilities, boat storage facilities, charter fishing boat operations, yacht clubs, restaurants and several others. However, it eliminated permitted conditional use of the space for “petroleum products and biofuels, marine terminal and pipeline facilities,” rendering the Northville facility noncompliant with the village code. Northville filed a lawsuit against the village in 2011. Egan said during the hearing the village had reached a settlement with Northville, and a stipulation of the suit was the code amendment.

“What this is really trying to do is, because we settled it I can say this, I would probably say it was a legislative mistake in 2010 to have eliminated a use that was already there and probably will continue forever,” he said. During a phone interview after the meeting Egan walked back “mistake” and instead classified it as a “legislative oversight.” “It’s been there forever, it will continue forever. What Northville said was, ‘Hey guys, we’re here. We were here even before this code was drafted. We’ve had it since 1976, just at least restore to us what you originally had in there before you took it out in 2010.’”

Northville’s is not the only property within the MW-1 district, which is the only one of the marina waterfront districts being granted conditional use pertaining to petroleum or biofuel related uses. So several village residents spoke out during the hearing with concerns that other companies might try to use property within the zone for similar purposes. Egan said the conditional-use status would leave any future proposals of that nature up to the village planning board to approve.

“Our history of this village is, it’s very difficult to do that,” village resident of Beach Street Michael Mart said during the hearing regarding a planning board denying conditional use on a property. “I’ve only heard of one time that they’ve prohibited a request for a conditional use, so I fear that by passing this, I guess we have to if it’s a settlement, because there’s only one street accessing those properties. For the most part that’s Beach Street. It’s shared by residents and to allow all of these uses to go there in the future, not immediately — I’m thinking far into the future when I’m not even here — that raises a significant zoning issue and a safety issue.”

Other members of the public were concerned by the phrase “marine terminal,” which does not have a definition within the village code. Village Mayor Margot Garant asked that a definition of marine terminal be added to the code to avoid unwanted uses from being permitted within the zone.

Egan also said an aspect of the amendment would be to create a “residential buffer” on Beach Street to separate Northville’s property and homes on the street.

He added the settlement was reached at no additional monetary cost to the village.

No vote was held on the amendment.