Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yaphank Land Sale Update

From: "Slaughter, Joshua" <>
Date: September 11, 2012 4:19:52 PM EDT
To: "Slaughter, Joshua" <>
Subject: Yaphank Land Sale Update
California_study.pdf (California Environmental Protection Agency)
STB OCT162007 TESTIMONY--CHAIR C D NOTTINGHAM.pdf (Federal Surface Transportation Board)
land sale agreement.pdf (Suffolk County to Oakland Transportation Holdings, LLC)

Legislator Browning is urging all residents and stakeholders to attend Thursday’s meeting [September 13, 2012] of the Suffolk County Legislature in Hauppauge. The meeting begins at 9:30 am and anyone can fill out a card to speak.

The legislature will be voting on IR 1695-12, which seeks to sell 231 acres of county land in Yaphank to Oakland Transportation.

I am attaching important documents that provide a wealth of information regarding the impacts this type of facility can have, as well as the federal exemptions it would enjoy.

The California Air Resources Board conducted an air quality study (attached) around a 243 acre intermodal rail yard in Commerce, California and the results are concerning. Cancer risks are clearly raised in the vicinity of the site due to diesel emissions from locomotives and trucks. If this land is sold it could potentially become the largest rail yard in the United States and have lasting health impacts on the surrounding community.

Also attached is testimony from the Chairman of the Surface Transportation Board (STB), which has jurisdiction over rail yards, explaining why and how these facilities are exempt from local and state environmental studies. The most concerning aspect of the testimony can be found on page 5 where it states that an already-authorized rail line does not have to have a formal environmental review when expanding its rail line or ancillary services. The 231 acres can be considered an expansion of Brookhaven Rail Terminal’s already-authorized 28 acre site. Since no SEQRA has been conducted for the 231 acres, and based on these statements from the Surface Transportation Board, NEPA likely wouldn’t have to be followed either. There could potentially be no environmental review at all. The 88 acres already owned by Brookhaven Rail Terminal is currently being cleared with no environmental review or permits. It is safe to say the same will happen on the 231 acre site. It is also important to note this land is in the Carmans River watershed and no review of the impacts on the river has been done.

Legislator Browning is deeply concerned about the lack of information and absence of any protections or stipulations in the contract of sale (attached). In fact, the contract allows extended access on Glover Drive, which would allow for trucks to enter and exit onto Yaphank Ave. Truck traffic, noise, hours of operation (currently 4am-4pm) and other quality of life issues need to be addressed, but to date have not been discussed. In addition, there are no restrictions on what type of goods could be brought into the facility in the future. If the land is sold on Thursday the opportunity for local control will be lost.

There will be residents from Queens attending the meeting on Thursday because they live next to a rail yard in Glendale. The impacts have been extremely negative for them and will only increase if Yaphank expands. All trains coming to Suffolk County come through Glendale. This is a regional project that will affect communities from Yaphank to Queens, and a regional study must be conducted to determine those impacts.

Lastly, only one appraisal was conducted prior to the contract of sale. Normally the county conducts 3 independent appraisals when purchasing land to ensure the taxpayers are getting the best price, so why not follow the same process when selling land?. Further concerns regarding the process arise from the fact that this is a direct sale and was not done through a Request for Proposal (RFP).

There are far too many questions and not enough answers to sell this land on Thursday. Come out and support your community. The legislature needs to hear from the community. This may be your last chance to be heard.   

Joshua P. Slaughter 
Suffolk County Legislature
Legislative Aide, Media Contact, Third Legislative District
1120 Montauk Hwy., Suite G 
Mastic, NY 11950 
Phone: (631) 852-1300 Fax:(631) 852-1303

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