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Jan 24, 2012 10:43 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Bridgehampton Sand Mine Owner Will Conduct Noise Study

Jan 25, 2012 10:18 AM

A noise study by the owners of a sand mining and gravel grinding business in Bridgehampton is the next step in helping 
resolve a long-standing dispute between the company and its neighbors over what the company should be allowed to do at the site.

John Tintle, the owner of the Wainscott Sand and Gravel Corporation, known to local residents as Sand Land, and his attorneys volunteered to commission the noise study during a public hearing before the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals last Thursday, January 19, in an effort to address noise complaints that neighbors have voiced regarding the 50-acre operation located on Middle Line Highway.

Both company representatives and the attorney for a handful of neighbors who claim to suffer from the business’s operations attended the meeting. The ZBA is weighing whether the operations on the property predate Southampton Town zoning, making it a preexisting, nonconforming use.

Neighbors have complained in recent years about a stench and loud noise from composting and rock pulverizing on the site. Three Bridgehampton residents, Joseph Phair, Margot Gilman and Amelia Doggwiler, are suing Mr. Tintle in State Supreme Court in an attempt to shut down the business.

This fall, a handful of neighbors filed an appeal with the ZBA of a preexisting, nonconforming use certificate of occupancy granted by Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa in July. In his determination—much to the dismay of some neighbors—Mr. Benincasa approved “the operation of a sand mine, the receipt and processing of trees, brush, stumps, leaves, and other clearing debris into topsoil or 
mulch, and the storage, sale, 
and delivery of sand, mulch, topsoil and wood chips and any other relief necessary.”

As far as receiving concrete, asphalt pavement, brick, rock and stone and processing it into concrete blend, however, Mr. Benincasa specifically stated in the determination that those were not legal uses, citing a 1962 ZBA decision.

David Eagan, an East Hampton attorney who represented Mr. Tintle at Thursday’s 
public hearing, stressed that Mr. Benincasa’s determination should be upheld. Zachary 
Murdock, the lawyer for the neighbors, argued that the uses do not predate zoning, and that Mr. Benincasa’s ruling was incorrect.

When Mr. Eagan and Mr. Tintle offered to perform a noise study, ZBA Vice Chairman Adam Grossman supported the idea. “I’m interested in it,” he said. “… Because, I have to say, I feel for the people who are living nearby.”

On Monday, Mr. Grossman acknowledged that a noise study wouldn’t play a significant role in making a decision on the 
certificate of occupancy appeal. But he said if the ZBA 
decided to overturn Mr. Benincasa’s ruling, the noise study could be useful if the company ultimately requested variances to legalize four structures on the site. Currently, that variance application has been put on hold because of the neighbors’ appeal.

“It’s not very relevant,” Mr. Grossman said of the noise study. “It really isn’t. In fact, what we’re really dealing with are legal issues. On the other hand, we have testimony of the neighbors talking about noise issues and noise concerns, and so certainly the property owner in my view … should be given a fair and reasonable opportunity to refute that.”

The public hearing will be kept open through March 15 to afford enough time for the company to complete the study. A decision on the appeal would follow, Mr. Grossman said.

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