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LI Residents, Officials Fed Up With Mulch Pile, Call For Regulations

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Residents in one Long Island town say they've had enough with the stink.

As 1010 WINS' Mona Rivera reported, Monday's nice weather is something some Middle Island residents say they wish they could enjoy.

"You cannot sit out here. We cannot use our yard. There's smell," a resident, who did not want to be identified, said.

LI Residents, Officials Fed Up With Mulch Pile Call For Regulations

The resident's backyard faces property that has been dubbed "Mulchmare" -- a 30- to 40-foot-high mountain of mulch that the Town of Brookhaven has gone to court over in an attempt to shut it down.

The community's fight against their smelly neighbor could change the way others contend with mounds of mulch, a growing problem in the suburbs, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.

Now, Town Supervisor Ed Romaine is appealing to the state to step in. Frustrated officials have demanded that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation close a loophole and begin regulating mulching operations.

"To put forward regulations controlling mulch. How close can mulch be to residential property. How high can these piles be," said Romaine.

With Superstorm Sandy's loads of yard waste and tree debris, mulch operations popped up in several residential neighborhoods without regulations.

"Yardwaste, limbs, leaves falls within this no mans land in between the local and state level," New York State Assembly member Dean Murray said.

Officials said they are concerned about the health of residents, airborne pathogens, and mold, but the trucks keep coming.

"They are thumbing their nose at the town and the county," Frank Bailey.

The owner of Sweezy Town Nursery argued their family farm, which has been there for more than a century, predates zoning laws. Their attorney told CBS2 that there is no evidence of health threat.

Most agreed composting and recycling of yard debris is a good thing, it helps the environment. But for the health and quality of life of neighbors in the shadow of mulch mountains residents say state regulations are overdue.

The town said the owners of the property have ignored summonses. But an attorney for the owners insists they're willing to sit down with residents to address concerns, Rivera reported.

The judge deciding the court case has until April 19, to rule on the Town of Brookhaven's motion to close down the operation.


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