February 18, 2008

Zoning Fireworks Erupt Over Grucci Sales in Yaphank

By David Winzelberg

Two Long Island companies are going ahead with plans to build asphalt and concrete plants on former Grucci family land in Yaphank despite protests from Suffolk County and the Town of Brookhaven.

The two companies that recently bought about 30 acres of Grucci land, DeChiaro Contracting from Bohemia and Holbrook-based Circle Associates, expect to build a concrete and asphalt plant on the site. But Suffolk Executive Steve Levy said the heavy industrial use won't jive with the workforce housing development planned for next door.

Grucci attorney David Sloane, from Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman in Hauppauge, who represents the companies that bought the land, said they have the right to the uses they've requested because the property is zoned L2, which allows heavy industry.

"We'll be looking into mitigating the impact on the east side of the property," Sloane said.

Levy wants to limit the site to light industry because Suffolk is planning to develop housing on about 250 acres adjacent to the parcels in question.

"We want to ensure that this property is not developed into an asphalt plant," Levy said.

The county executive said he has spoken with Brookhaven Supervisor Brian Foley and Councilman Tim Mazzei on the future uses of the land, and added that the town is on the same page as the county on usage.

In 1983 an explosion leveled the Grucci's fireworks factory in Bellport. To help the company relocate, Suffolk County gave the company 88 county-owned acres in Yaphank in exchange for 131 acres of pine barrens in Manorville owned by the Grucci's. The fireworks firm also kicked in $50,000 to complete the deal.

Suffolk planners and environmentalists had opposed construction at the Manorville property because it sits atop a major aquifer.

The fireworks company accepted the land swap and built its new headquarters on the Yaphank land.

And now that the Grucci's real estate company, Starlight Properties, sold about 30 acres to DeChiaro and Circle, Suffolk officials also want their due.

According to the county, there was a covenant attached to any future sale of the Grucci's Yaphank property that would grant the county about $350,000, which it is seeking to recover from the fireworks concern.

Sloane said his client has been "trying to pay this for over a year", but the county hadn't come up with a figure.

Originally published by David Winzelberg.

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