Posted by: Dawn Powell | June 2, 2009

Tompkins Landscaping

Tompkins Landscaping on Morrissey Drive in Putnam Valley

Since last August, there has been a(nother) controversy brewing in Lake Peekskill.  Tompkins Landscaping has been fueling trucks at their business there.  Last summer, I contacted the building department about the fueling. They said they would check into it.

I waited. I received no response. 

Then I contacted them again.  I was told that they were not fueling trucks.  But they were fueling trucks.  I had seen them.

So then, I emailed Councilwomen Whetsel and Keresey about the situation.  I received no response.from either councilwoman. 

I wrote a letter to the Code Enforcement Officer, Irv Sevelowitz, which I copied to both councilwomen.  I received no response.

At that point, I posted photographs of the fueling.  There is video also.  The photos were posted on the lohud blog.  I did not identify the business, because I did not want to make an accusation, in the event that the activity was not prohibited.

It would seem that the fueling of vehicles in the Town of Putnam Valley is prohibited.  It would seem that the delivery of fuel to any business for the purpose of fueling vehicles is prohibited.

When I was in Town Hall, I asked again about the fueling of trucks at Tompkins.  Mr. Sevelowitz told me that they were fueling one truck and then fueling the other trucks from that one truck.  That seemed a peculiar activity, and a peculiar explanation for the activity that I had seen.  Clearly in my observation of the fueling, and in the videos and the photos of the fueling, there is a tank at the back of the building and there is a hose with a nozzle from that tank.  There have been deliveries of home heating oil from Eastern Oil Company to that tank, and then, subsequent fueling into trucks, from that tank. 

So after months and months and months of this non-conversation with the building department, writing, blogging, being ignored, I attended the March Lake Peekskill Improvement District and I asked why nothing had been done.  Mr. Tendy yelled at me.  He told me that I should have sent the letter to him, that I should send the photos to him, that he is responsible for enforcement in this town. We know that Mr. Tendy reads the lohud blogs.  We know that Mr. Tendy reads my blog posts.  So this should not have been the first time Mr. Tendy had heard this discussion.

Shortly thereafter, I sent the photos to Mr. Tendy at his Town Hall email address. I was unable to send the videos. 

Again, I heard nothing.

At some point (I cannot remember when), I was told that this was a mobile tank, and was unregulated. But it has always been a fixed tank, at a fixed site every time I have observed it.

Prior to the last LPCA meeting, Mr. Ted Muniak observed the fueling at Tompkins Landscaping. Then last week, Mr. Tendy sent me 2 emails, saying that this appeared to be a prohibited activity. Then, he sent me an email saying that he had been premature in that assessment.  It has apparently taken 10 months to sort this out, and it is not yet sorted.

On Friday, Mr. Muniak again observed fueling.  On Saturday, there was a Lake Peekskill Improvement District meeting. As I understand the explanation, the site plan for Tompkins Landscaping has a fueling station.  I would have assumed that station was for the fueling of lawnmowers and other equipment of that sort, not for the fueling of large trucks, but I have not looked at it. The decision and order from the zoning board did not include fueling.  The business owner openly acknowledges fueling, and believes that it is his right to do it.  Considering that, why was I told initially by the building department, that they had denied fueling? And why was I told that they were fueling from one truck to another?

Why didn’t the building department know that there was a fueling station on the site plan?  Wouldn’t they have had to inspect it when it was installed?  Wouldn’t it have been part of the C.O?  Why didn’t they check this out months ago?  Are there any limitations on that fueling station and its use?  Would this use need to go before the zoning board?  How large is the tank?  The DEC regulates standing tank by size, as I recall tanks of 1000 gallons or more require a DEC permit.  I know that prior to this week, Tompkins Landscaping did not have a permit.  I do not know if they require one.

And if this operation was permitted, are they permitted to pump home heating oil into their trucks.  Isn’t home heating oil exempted from some taxes because it is used for heating?  Doesn’t it burn less efficiently in trucks than diesel fuel?  Doesn’t it produce black smoke (more air pollution) when burned in a truck engine?

Landscaping is not a permitted use in the Putnam Valley Town Code.  The Tompkins Landscaping decision at the zoning board occurred in a short-lived sliver in the code that allowed the zoning board of appeals to legislate new uses in their decisions.  According to state law, the zoning board is not a legislative body, and this section of the town code has since been rescinded.

I will have to go to Town Hall, look up the plans and the minutes to sort this out.




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