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Town challenged to require permits for industrial operations

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | The entrance to 13 North Ferry Road on Tuesday morning.
AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | The entrance to 13 North Ferry Road on Tuesday morning.

The concrete grinding has stopped — at least for the moment. But that doesn’t mean the Town Board should breathe a sigh of relief and move on to other matters, according to Robert Waife.

Mr. Waife’s property is adjacent to 13 North Ferry Road, a lot leased by Marcello Masonry, where last week a concrete grinding machine was in operation. Not only was the noise deafening, but Mr. Waife’s entire home shook, windows rattled and the family dog was terrified.

Mr. Waife brought his complaint to the Town Board a week ago, which promised intervention. Mr. Waife said “as a courtesy” he allowed Mr. Marcello’s workers to finish grinding concrete at the site last Thursday, February 11.

“I’ll feel a lot better once that machine is moved out of there,” he said.

But out of sight doesn’t put the issue out of Mr. Waife’s mind. He wants the board to take action to relieve him and other Island residents from future disturbances.

The town’s noise ordinance states that “any noise of a type or volume which either annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of a reasonable person of normal sensibilities” is restricted.

Anyone undertaking deafening construction work should have to apply for a special permit indicating what machinery is to be used and for how long, Mr. Waife said, giving the Town Board oversight.

“The board needs to send a strong message to everybody” and it needs to address the issue before spring arrives, Mr. Waife said.

Councilman Jim Colligan noted that as disturbing as the work is at the height of winter, it would be far worse in spring, summer and early fall when people have their windows open and dust would be flying.

He spoke about the problem with the Planning Board last week and Chairman Paul Mobius said he recalled years ago a proposal to establish a special industrial zone including what is now the Town Recycling Center site and adjacent property. Because the need seemed less pressing at the time, nothing came of the discussion, he said.

The town’s zoning code is “quite liberal” about what types of operations can occur throughout the Island, Mr. Mobius said. The Marcello operation isn’t located in a residential zone even though there are residences near it, he added.

Town Attorney Laury Dowd has pointed out that under the code, there aren’t many specific details about what types of commercial operations can exist. “That’s something the Town Board is going to have to take up,” Mr. Mobius said.

Another issue going back almost a year with the North Ferry Road lot is the appearance of the property and a curb cut for the entrance that Dan Calabro, the property’s owner, was ordered to install.

In April 2015 the Building Department advised Mr. Calabro that if Marcello Masonry was to maintain the site as a moving, storage and general trucking operation, he would need permission from the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) to install the curb cut. The installation was needed to provide safe egress onto the state road and minimize storm water runoff and road damage. No work has been done for a curb cut.

While Building Inspector Bill Banks said he understood the DOT had approved the cut, he didn’t know how long ago that happened. Mr. Banks said he spoke with Mr. Calabro last week and the two are due to meet again in March to discuss the owner’s responsibilities. Building Inspector Chris Tehan, who has cited the property for violations in the past, has been unavailable for comment.

The owner also said in April 2015 that the property would be screened. Neighbors complained then, as they do now, of piles of dirt 15 feet high and an open lot of equipment and debris clearly visible from North Ferry Road.

Mr. Marcello had been ordered to remove debris and clean up the site and was also told it should be landscaped so it wouldn’t be visible from the road. Mr. Waife credited Mr. Marcello with finally erecting a fence on the property that had been promised. Some bushes have been planted but they have failed to achieve the intended effect, Mr. Waife said.

Mr. Marcello hasn’t responded to requests for comment.