Court upholds town’s Brookhaven Rail Terminal environmental review

Ruling makes way for the development

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Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Joseph A. Santorelli rejected the Citizens Campaign for the Environment and NAACP’s challenge of Brookhaven Town’s environmental review of the Brookhaven Rail Terminal project, in Yaphank, on a 93-acre parcel north of the LIRR.

“As expected, the New York Supreme Court rejected the CCE and NAACP’s challenge to the thoroughness of the town’s comprehensive review process,” said Winters Bros. senior vice president, Will Flower. “The truth is that this project was fully reviewed and found to be beneficial to the local community, the county, and all of Long Island.”

In 2021, Winters Bros. closed on over 200 acres of land, south of the LIRR, neighboring the current Brookhaven Town Landfill in Yaphank, just south of Horseblock Road. The purchase of the property, according to Flower, will allow Brookhaven Rail, which will eventually operate under Shamrock Rail, to create a rail terminal facility to haul out the area’s garbage. The terminal is intended to be occupied and used by Home Depot, among other companies, to receive and ship products by rail instead of by trucks.

Parcel A is the current rail terminal; parcels B and C are future warehouses with no transfer station; and parcel D is planned for warehousing and a transfer station. The ruling only dealt with parcels B and C. The court ruled that the town complied with all environmental requirements and that the CCE and NAACP failed to show the town’s actions were subject to any possible legal challenge.
Those against the project, including the Brookhaven Chapter of the NAACP and the CCE, claimed the Town of Brookhaven and Winters Bros. were, among other uses, utilizing an obscure federal board to build a massive garbage facility without any local approvals or oversight.

“We are undaunted and have already filed the notice of appeal with the courts,” said CCE executive director Adrienne Esposito. “The ruling did not even attempt to address the substance of the case, and we look forward to higher court assessing this important case.”

According to the court’s decision, the town’s review of the project was “voluminous,” “extensive” and “comprehensive.” The court also noted that the town was able to retain an important degree of local environmental oversight over this project by means of a prior lawsuit against the former developers, despite the fact that rail-supported facilities such as this are usually subject only to federal environmental review of the project, which is also occurring before the Surface Transportation Board in Washington.

“The Town of Brookhaven is pleased with this vindication of the town’s responsible environmental role in efforts to take polluting truck traffic off of Long Island’s roads and replace them with environmentally sound rail-railway-supported deliveries in an industrial area for which it is appropriate,” said a town spokesperson.

“The Town of Brookhaven is the sole entity here that has consistently stood up for the community, the environment, and for the truth,” added town attorney Annette Eaderesto.

According to the town, they have been a longtime supporter of the “environmentally sound” rail-supported developments, rather than “road-clogging and polluting” trucks.

“Bottom line is that rail is a necessary part of the infrastructure that Long Island needs for a successful future,” said Flower in agreement with the environmental benefits of the rail.

The ruling has now made way for the development of the warehouses and rail on parcels B and C.