Thursday, May 09 2013 16:04
The new owners of a 46-acre inactive farm on Middle Country Road in Calverton formerly owned by Elmer Zeh are seeking the town's approval to remove more than 415,000 cubic yards of sand from the site — necessary, they say, to make the land level enough for farming — but don't want to incur the $2 per cubic yard fee imposed by the Riverhead town code for the exportation of soil.
But Steve Mezynieski, who acknowledged he owns an excavating company in Southampton and would sell some of the sand removed from the Calverton site, has to convince Riverhead town officials that he and his family are not looking for a sand mine. They simply want to turn the land into a working farm, he said.
Slopes of up to 20 percent currently make all but about 16 acres useless for farming, according to Mezynieski, his lawyer, surveyor and soil consultant.
"There's no hidden agenda," Mezynieski said. "We're not doing strip-mining. The end result is a finished farm."
Mezynieski said he and his wife, Gretchen, bought three farms in Orient that were in similar condition to the Calverton farm — which he described as dilapidated, overgrown and full of garbage. He said they turned the Orient farms around and invited board members to head east to see for themselves.
"Everything is meticulous," Mezynieski said.
Mezynieski said he's already invested "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in cleaning up the Calverton site, which he intends to have one of his sons farm.
"We've spent a lot of money and time trying to do the right thing," Mezynieski said. "If I were going to strip-mine, I would have started in january and said sue me
Much of the sand proposed for excavating in Calverton will be brought to the family's Orient farms for use in rebuilding dykes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy last year, attorney Peter Danowski told the board.
The property owners agreed to conduct the excavation one or two acres at a time, over a period of about two years, and to pay the $2 per yard exportation fee if they decide to pursue industrial uses on the site in the near future.
The board did not give the Mezynieskis a definitive answer, but the supervisor assured them the town would "do its due diligence relatively quickly."
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