Dejana Industries wants to build a shed in Manorhaven to store sand and salt. But a group of village residents is fighting the plan, arguing that the structure breaks building codes and the salt could pollute nearby waterways.
“Benefiting Dejana Industries by granting them approval for illegal use comes at a huge cost to the village and the residents,” Manorhaven resident Caroline DuBois wrote in a letter to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
The village’s zoning board listened as numerous citizens came to the podium to express their concerns, but also stressed at a meeting Tuesday that the members were there to consider approving the structure, not argue over the legality of salt storage.
DuBois and several other residents said that storing salt at 12 Manorhaven Blvd. might be illegal. The zoning board pushed back on that claim, asserting that the land had been used for salt storage for at least 35 years, and that the property was grandfathered in.
“Under current zoning, it’s not an approved use,” DuBois said. “What I think is important is when the start of the salt pile was … I would like to get a timeline and see if they have the village permit.”
Other residents were concerned about the environmental impact of the site. The salt pile is located near the Manorhaven Preserve, and some were concerned that the salt could reach and contaminate the protected wetlands. There were calls for environmental studies to be conducted.
Carrie O’Farrell, an environmental scientist speaking on Dejana’s behalf, said the salt storage was outside the 100-year flood plain. She also said that construction of the shed would prevent stormwater from reaching the salt and vice versa.
Then there was the structure itself. The shed would be a semicircle 28 feet high at its highest point. Frank Genese, an architect for the project, said it would be hidden behind a row of stores facing Shore Road. But residents said that this still broke the village’s height limit, currently set at 15 feet, and would establish a precedent.
“Someone could come in and say, ‘well this was allowed at 28 feet, so I should be allowed to do 28 feet,” said resident and former Trustee Lucretia Steele.
DuBois also said that there was a conflict of interest between Peter Dejana, the owner of Dejana Industries, and village Mayor Jim Avena. Avena is engaged to Peter Dejana’s sister and is a grant administrator for Dejana’s foundation.
During Tuesday’s hearing, both board members and residents occasionally resorted to shouting as frustration boiled over. Board member Patrick Gibson occasionally had to raise his voice to keep the audience and some fellow board members under control.
“We’re not going to have back and forth like this, it’s not appropriate,” he said after an exchange between Steele and board member Frank Ottaviani became heated.
After almost three hours of questions and debate, the board members agreed to continue the conversation at a zoning board meeting on Jan. 16.