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Junkyard sale concerns local residents

NORTH EAST — Town Supervisor John Merwin read a letter sent to him and copied to town Zoning Enforcement Officer and Building Inspector Ken McLoughlin at the Town Board meeting held on Thursday, Feb. 9. The subject matter, the pending sale of Thomsen & Graham Metals, Inc., was sent by 10 neighboring residents concerned with the junkyard’s future and how the past trouble spot may be licensed. Thomsen & Graham Metals is on Sawchuck Road.“We believe the purchaser(s) may be seeking to extend the annual license to a longer period,” the letter stated. “We want to be on record that we are totally opposed to any change of the annual license for junkyards in the town of North East. The annual license renewal and inspection are there for a reason. It is protection for our neighborhood.“This is a commercial business [grandfathered prior to zoning] in a residential neighborhood,” continued the letter. “There are rules and regulations for this junkyard that must be adhered to.”The letter was signed by junkyard neighbors concerned with how the business has been run in the past. One of the main issues that troubled those neighbors in prior years was excessive noise, often well after operating hours. Additionally, large numbers of discarded tires had been kept on the property, prompting complaints ranging from aesthetics to health risks (including attracting mosquitoes and illnesses like West Nile virus).After much back and forth among the owners of Thomsen & Graham Metals, area residents, the Town Board and attorneys for both the junkyard and the town, a renewal license was signed in September 2008. Since that time the yard’s operations have apparently been running fairly smoothly.However, those who signed the Feb. 3 letter weren’t about to leave anything to chance. They repeated the conditions made in the annual license renewal. Those are:• Hours of operation must remain in full force and effect: Mondays through Fridays, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon; closed Sundays.• No stockpiling of tires.• Repair or replace fencing to block unsightly views (which the letter states was never completed).• Post “No Dumping” signs to discourage illegal dumping (the letter states the sign is no longer there).• Interior and exterior of yard must be cleaned and maintained (letter states such is not the case).• No burning of any kind.• Loud outside telephone buzzer will be shut off after hours.• No race cars or auto repair work will be permitted.The residents who signed the letter added that in 2005 they informed the town in writing that they “still had concern for our well water and property being contaminated by leaking toxic fluids from vehicles stored/crushed at the yard and requested that this issue be included in follow up and annual inspections to ensure we are safe from contamination.”The Webatuck Creek flows through some of those residents’ properties. The letter read on Feb. 9 was signed by Sharon DiDomenico, Dale Brown, Roger and Margaret Gregoire, Steven and Lucie Abad, Jim Wilson, Robert Simmons, Barbara Jones and Joan Williams.Merwin said at the end of the Town Board’s discussion that the matter “needs to be followed up on” and will be further addressed at future board meetings.

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