Joe Karolys is back in the news.
Construction and demolition material he has dumped on his Fel Qui Road property has, according to town officials, caused the diversion of a stream, which has flooded the capped town landfill and two neighboring residential properties.
The town building department has issued Karolys an order to remedy; should Karolys not comply, the town vowed to take him to court. Again.
“Based on site inspections…the Department of Safety and Buildings would like to acquire authorization to permit John Greco, Esq., attorney of the town of Saugerties to begin legal action in the Ulster County Supreme Court against Mr. Joseph Karolys…to obtain an injunction requiring the restoration of the natural flow of groundwater on both 34 and 42 Fel Qui Road sites,” wrote Building Inspector Alvah Weeks in a memorandum sent to the Saugerties Town Board on Jan. 17. “The natural flow of surface water drainage has been altered by the excessive amount of fill deposited on the above referenced site by Mr. Karolys, jeopardizing neighboring properties including the Town of Saugerties landfill.”
After months of dispute, Karolys was stopped in December from using three properties in Saugerties near the Woodstock town line as dumps for C&D debris that came from the New York metropolitan area, after a court battle in which he sought unsuccessfully to invalidate stop-work orders issued by the Saugerties building inspector. In May 2019, the state Department of Environmental Conservation raided Karolys’ Route 212 property and uncovered 39 alleged violations of clean-water and solid-waste-disposal laws. The agency issued its own order that Karolys desist from importing the material and that he clean the three properties. Tests found heavy metals and pesticides, including DDT, in materials dumped at the Route 212 site. In December, a day after state Supreme Court Judge Richard Mott lifted a court-ordered hold on law enforcement preventing Karolys from receiving material, a hauler was arrested for attempting to illegally deposit material on Karolys’ 1446 Route 212 property and numerous safety violations. Since, according to town officials and neighbors, no additional material has been brought to the three properties.
“It’s pretty substantial,” said Town Supervisor Fred Costello Jr. this week of the extent of the flooding. “As a result of Joe’s persistent dumping, he has altered the natural course of water flow, and by doing that he’s forced water onto the landfill property and the property of his neighbors…He’s dammed the river and created a pond, and the water releases itself by going around…It’s so dramatic that erosion control that was installed by the developers of the solar field, their erosion control is sitting in water…when they [installed the stormwater protection systems for the site] those areas were dry. It’s a powerful indication of how much the water course was altered.”
Costello said that the timetable for the activation of the East Light Partners solar array will not be impacted despite the flooding.
The order to remedy was sent to Karolys via certified mail on Jan. 24; as of Tuesday, Jan. 28, the Building Department has not received confirmation that the order was received.
“At this point we’ve sent in an order to remedy to establish the original natural drainage,” said Assistant Building Inspector Kevin Brown. “Hopefully he signs, but we don’t know. If it doesn’t then we’ll take our course of action against him that’s necessary to protect the property owners and the landfill.”
The town is already embroiled in legal action with Mr. Karolys; he has been charged with misdemeanors for illegally dumping outside of the daily time window set by Mott, between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saugerties Town Justice Christopher Kraft recused himself from overseeing the matter in September; the matter was transferred to Woodstock Town Court, where Justice Richard Husted also recused himself from the matter because he is a member of the Woodstock Land Conservancy, which shared articles on its Facebook page concerning Karolys’ dumping activity. On Dec. 18, hours before Karolys was due in court, Woodstock Town Justice Richard Lesko also recused himself from the case; the reason was not clear at press time. Costello said that the hearing has yet to be rescheduled.
Karolys did not return a phone call seeking comment.