Woodstock officials hope a new law will make it tougher for illegal dumpers to slip under the radar in a repeat of a situation on Church Road in Shady in which homeowner Vincent Conigliaro ordered fill from Saugerties contractor Joseph Karolys that turned out to be contaminated construction debris.
The town discovered the dumping in January 2020 and has tried unsuccessfully since then to get the homeowner to remove the illegal fill. The town charged Conigliaro and Karolys with more than 200 counts of violating the local solid waste law. Both town justices recused themselves and the case was moved to Shandaken Town Court, where a trial will begin soon.
“We all agreed that we needed to pull together a lot to try and make it easier to prosecute and deal with this,” supervisor Bill McKenna said at the July 13 meeting. “Ultimately, the building inspector has the right to request receipts for any field that comes to any job in Woodstock. And that’s going to help guarantee that we know where the fill is coming from.”
Councilman Richard Heppner said he was agreeable to the new law as long as it doesn’t hurt the small contractor.
McKenna agreed. “I drafted this local law to really just capture the big jobs, but still give the building inspector the ability to say, hey, you’re bringing in two loads, just tell me where it came from and we’re all good,” he said. “I’ve talked to a number of excavating contractors about that and none of them seem to have any issue.”
Under the proposed law, set to be enacted after another period of public comment, permits will be required for excavation or grading with more than 200 cubic yards of fill, lowering or raising of the existing grade by more than six inches or stripping of more than 5,000 square feet of topsoil. Exempted are operations involving less than 200 cubic yards of fill, most work on lawns, gardens and driveways, work on septic systems and permitted parking areas.
Neighbors to 10 Church Road are worried about drinking water contamination from the construction debris, which is illegal to dump in the town. Over the past year, they have regularly urged the town to keep the pressure on Conigliaro to remove the fill. Conigliaro committed to the cleanup at a public meeting, but has not made progress.
The town cannot expend public funds to clean up the property without a court judgment against Conigliaro. If the court rules in the town’s favor, it will hire a contractor for the cleanup and add the cleanup cost to Conigliaro’s tax bill. If Conigliaro defaults on his taxes, Ulster County will make the town whole, then attach a lien on the property, McKenna has previously explained.
Karolys currently faces multiple state and town charges for allegedly transporting contaminated fill and storing it at his place of business in Saugerties.