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Letter: Twin County Asphalt Plant

(Editor's note: This letter is in response to a letter that appeared recently in the Hicksville Illustrated News. The writer, Beverly Hughes, is an employee of a company located adjacent to the Twin County asphalt plant in Hicksville. This letter was sent to Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Jon Venditto and fellow board members. )

2010 marks a sad anniversary. It is 25 years ago this year that the Twin County facility began producing asphalt. (They opened in 1983 as a rock-crushing operation.) During these 25 years this plant has been a constant source of problems for residents who live north and south of the plant and it has been a blight on the entire Hicksville community.

Ms. Hughes’s letter sums up what it has been like to have Twin County as a neighbor for 25 years. Odors, noise, smoke and dust are a part of our daily life and deprive us of the simple enjoyment of our homes. There is also no doubt that there could be serious health implications for those of us who live and work near the plant. On several mornings recently when the plant was operating and I was walking my dog on Duffy Avenue it was difficult to breathe. The decision to allow an asphalt plant to operate in the middle of two residential areas defied all logic 25 years ago and still does today.

As you know, there were some attempts in the early ‘90s to force the plant out but they all failed. Now there is another one-sided proposal on the table to replace the facility with housing. While the Town of Oyster Bay and Twin County’s owners negotiate towards an agreement that will surely benefit the plant’s owners much more than it benefits local residents and taxpayers, our quality of life suffers on a daily basis.

Supervisor Venditto, this asphalt plant is your legacy to Hicksville. You are the sole remaining member of the town board who voted in 1982 to allow this monstrosity to open in our neighborhood. On the same day you voted to grant Twin County’s permit, you and your town board colleagues denied the renewal of the permit of another nearby asphalt plant - owned by the same company - because of years of complaints from residents about odors, smoke, dust and noise. How could you have believed things would be any different?

The new athletic center, parks, and community center in Hicksville will not be your legacy. We deserve these amenities but were forced to wait years longer for them than our neighboring communities did.

Finally, as has been the pattern for 25 years, there seems to be no enforcement of the few restrictions the town did place on the plant’s operation when the original permit was issued. Odors, smoke, dust and noise emanate from the premises regularly. For most of October the plant started operating before 6 a.m. and continued well past midnight, both clear violations of the permit. Certainly we are aware there was extensive road paving at night during that time and that only adds to the frustration. We were not only inconvenienced more than usual but we also got to watch our tax dollars enrich Twin County’s owners.

The plant’s property is nothing more than a landfill and that is a prohibited use in this zone. We can only speculate on what may have seeped into the ground over the past 25 years, a fact that could torpedo any plans to build housing on the site. We continue to suffer while the town looks the other way. If nothing else, the town owes us full enforcement of the permit they mistakenly issued as well as all town ordinances.

The residents of the Duffy Park and Northwest sections of Hicksville welcome your thoughts on what our future holds. Quite frankly, after 25 years of hell we’re not holding out much hope.

Dave Staton