Groups, Town Supervisor Seek To End Dumping Operation In Saugerties

Catskill Mountainkeeper, the Woodstock Land Conservancy and Dump Here Never hosted the information session at Saugerties High School. They say Joseph Karolys’ unpermitted dumping operation that includes a central transfer facility has left tens of thousands of cubic yards of construction and demolition debris in the woods of Saugerties, in one case, a 30-foot-high pile, and continues unabated. Mike Ferraro lives across the street from what is called the Route 212 site.

“I just want it to go away. I want it to be cleaned up,” Ferraro says. “My grandchildren live here. I’ve lived here my whole life. We lived, I’ve lived on that property since 1976, and it’s, I don’t want it there.”

Sweeping Climate Change Bill to Make New York One of the Greenest States

“People that are on the front lines of fossil fuel impacts, on the frontlines of extreme storms, on the frontlines of air pollution — it will clean up their air, keep them safer and move this country into a better future for all of us,” said Wes Gillingham, the Associate Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper.

New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, or CCPA, is set to make the state the sixth in the country with a 100 percent clean electricity target.

“New York is one of the largest states in the country, one of the largest economies, together with California and other large economies,” said Jeff Freedman, a renewable energy expert at the Atmospheric Science Research Center at UAlbany. “You’re talking about a large portion of the United States’ economy is now going to be moving aggressively towards what we call this ‘green economy.'”

The bill calls for zero emissions from statewide electric by 2040. Activists say this is what they’ve been working for, for years.

New York to pass climate change law called nation’s most aggressive

Katherine Nadeau, deputy director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, a Sullivan County-based environmental organization, called the agreement a “monumental effort by New York state to take on the climate crisis head on.”

“We are getting on a pathway to 100 percent emission reductions while supporting our communities, and those two things are what we need,” Nadeau said.

Town, state seek warrants to inspect controversial Saugerties construction & demolition debris dumps

That fact was divulged at a meeting on May 14 at the Saugerties High auditorium. The meeting, organized by Catskill Mountainkeeper, was attended by about 50; representatives from Congressman Antonio Delgado and state Sen. George Amedore’s offices, along with Ulster County legislators Mary Wawro and Dean Fabiano, were present.

“The [DEC] is aware of the Karolys operation and Department staff have been actively investigating reports of associated illegal activity,” wrote DEC Regional Director Kelly R. Turturro to Catskill Mountainkeeper attorney Emily Svenson in a letter that was passed out. “The property owner refused to grant DEC staff access to the properties to evaluate whether the sites are in compliance with the Environmental Conservation Law. Accordingly, we are currently seeking a warrant in court so that DEC staff will be able to access and inspect the sites.”

DEC shuts down controversial Saugerties construction and demolition debris dumps

“We’re thrilled with this letter, it verifies everything that we’ve been saying,” said Emily Svenson, an attorney that has been petitioning state government to shut down the dumps on behalf of environmental activism group Catskill Mountainkeeper. “We don’t know exactly what will happen next. The Karolyses could challenge this violation, there could be some additional interaction with DEC. I’m not sure how this will play out, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

The town of Saugerties, driven by concerns voiced by neighbors about noise caused by truck traffic in and out of the four sites and about the possibility of harmful chemicals getting into surrounding well water, has been trying to halt the operations in court, but is still waiting for a ruling from state Supreme Court Justice Richard Mott. The DEC says the operation has been in violation of its dumping rules since 2016 and town officials say Karolys’ dumps are breaking the town law to boot. Karolys hasn’t taken this lying down — he’s filed a notice of claim in state Supreme Court, reserving his right to sue the town for, among other things, defamation and violating his rights to use his property.

Suit targets Thompson, developer

However, Gan Eden and Thompson have another lawsuit to deal with filed in May against them by The Center for Discovery and Catskill Mountainkeeper.

The attorney representing both nonprofits did not respond by press time for comment.

The lawsuit argues that the project would adversely affect both organizations and seeks to void the settlement on the basis that the town violated open meetings law and SEQRA.

“I believe it’s overreaching and without merit and our attorneys will vigorously defend the town’s position,” Rieber said.

A Sullivan County judge will decide how the case moves forward later this month, according to Horgan.

Horgan added that the lawsuit assumes that the settlement means the project will be approved by the town when up for review, which is not the case.

Rieber insists the same.

“In other words, we’re gonna give them a fair review just like anyone else would get from the town,” he said.

DEC orders Saugerties dumping site shut down July 3, 2019

Kathy Nolan, senior researcher for Catskill Mountainkeeper, said the orders are good news to residents of the area.

“The DEC apparently looked at all the materials that had been submitted to them and they had inspected the site and they put together a list of dozens of violations that were present on the three properties owned by Joseph and Rachel Karolys and basically shut them down by informing them that it is illegal to proceed in the face of those regulations,” she said.

DEC orders Saugerties dumping site shut down