Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions


Source: Newsday

Limits imposed on Great Gardens composting


Posted: November 10, 2011
Originally Published: October 26, 2011

It's a game-changer for Great Gardens, the open-air composting facility in Yaphank long accused of stinking up the area and clogging the air with dust.

Yesterday, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said in a letter to operator Long Island Compost that changes were required, and revoked the facility's permission to operate an open-air waste transfer station.

"We have determined that the facility has failed to effectively control off-site migration of odor and dust caused by the yard waste transfer and other activities performed at this facility," the agency wrote.

The 62-acre compost site must limit the amount of unbagged mulch stored outside and cannot store uncured compost materials on site, the state said.

LI Compost president Charles Vigliotti said he was blindsided by the DEC's decision and is mulling an appeal, which the company can pursue before the modified permit takes effect Nov. 11. "We had no input into this," he said. "This is something the DEC is attempting to impose on us unilaterally, and I'm not sure that's the best way to be constructive."

Vigliotti did not know how much it would cost to comply with the DEC ruling.

Officials and community leaders praised the decision.

Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko said in a statement, "The DEC's actions will result in an improved quality of life for the residents who live near Great Gardens."

Local environmentalist Adrienne Esposito described the move as an "extraordinary and landmark victory."

"This is a dramatic change in the way this facility will be doing business," said Esposito, who works for Citizens Campaign for the Environment and is a member of the Brookhaven Community Coalition, which focuses on LI Compost and the town's landfill.

Earlier this month, Vigliotti agreed to reduce the amount of grass clippings at the compost site by 90 percent, eliminating a source of foul odors because grass clippings decompose so quickly.

"We're a little bit disturbed that the DEC didn't even wait to see if that would have had a measurable impact before they came out with this," Vigliotti said.

Still, complaints had mounted for years, residents said.

Chad Trusnovec, president of the Yaphank Taxpayers and Civic Association, said "the residents of that neighborhood, their quality of life due to this facility has been dramatically reduced."

"It's just about everything they've been asking for," said state Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who has met with the DEC along with Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue).

Still, some want more done.

"We're looking for the entire site to be enclosed," said Brookhaven Councilwoman Connie Kepert.