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As Satur Plans Calverton Expansion, Neighbor Blasts Farm Over Generator

Controversial farm gets grant to expand Calverton operation while one neighbor of the Satur Farms' Cutchogue location is fighting to silence a generator across from his house.

a vegetable farm that has two locations in Cutchogue and now on Middle Road in Calverton, from the New York State Regional Economic Development Council toward more machinery and equipment to expand its vegetable processing and packaging line at the Calverton location.
 
The farm is one of two dozen projects across the First State Senate District to receive grant funding, but some readers questioned the grant after Patch published the story of the awards last month.

Paulette Satur is a member of the economic advisory council, and for years now, the farm has been the subject of neighborhood conflict, located close to residential houses on the other side of the street on Alvah’s Lane in Cutchogue.
 
Though a dispute which made it to the courts involving dust, diesel pollution and noise created by the loading and unloading of large refrigerated trucks on Alvah's Lane has simmered down — the trucks have been relocated to the Calverton facility — another neighbor is now fighting to get a diesel generator removed or relocated.
 
Regarding the grant, Jason Conwall, senior press officer for Empire State Development, said that anyone can apply for funding from the economic development council and that decisions to grant the money is based only on merit — no matter if the person is on the council or not.
 
“Heads of influential organizations and businesses who might happen to be on the council are also looking for money from the state,” Conwall said. “It doesn’t necessarily look great but there is no conflict of interest.”
 
Joe Gergela, president of the Long Island Farm Bureau, agreed.
 
“It’s very expensive for farmers to chop vegetables for preparation purposes, which is what they are doing privately,” Gergela said. “And given the level of investment they are putting into their own farming operation, I don’t see this as a conflict of interest. Economic development grants are for expanding jobs and business and any farmer can apply.”
 
But neighbor Jim Best said he does not view Satur as just any farmer. Over the past year or so, he has written dozens of letters to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officials and other governmental entities regarding the matter of a diesel generator located near the roadside across from his house — a house he grew up in and now lives in with his wife and elderly mother. He says he’s tired of the plastic bags and other debris blowing into his yard from Satur and says that the diesel generator used for cooling is interrupting and polluting his life every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
 
“There is an extremely strong diesel smell in and around our house for 13 hours a day,” he said. “We have to shut the windows in the summer.”
 
Best said he is also getting a scientist from Brooklyn College to test the soil and water around his house for pollutants.
 
“The bottom line is this — why did they put that generator right next to the street and our house?” he said. “There are lots of farmers around here with the same types of generators who place them in fields away from everything else. LIPA uses generators too, but they enclose them in buildings so you don’t see or smell them.”
 
In a letter written this past April to Paulette Satur from Flavio Dobran, a researcher at Stony Brook University for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Air resources, Dobran states that several inspections of the area surrounding the engine “demonstrate that the engine’s emissions can adversely impact individuals too close to the engine and that an immediate action should be taken to reduce the emissions or relocated the engine to a location where this impact can be minimal.”
 
Dobran also recommended emissions testing on the engine but did not hear back from Satur and wrote this letter on May 3 of last year:
 
“Given that you did not respond by April 30 to my letter, I am submitting this issue to higher authorities … I am very disappointed that you keep insisting on your right to farm while the engine emissions are creating a nuisance and have potential to cause health problems to your neighbors.”
 
That same day, Paulette Satur responded to the DEC:
 
“We must respectfully disagree with your assertion that engine emissions can adversely impact the individuals too close to the engine … There is no evidence that any emissions adversely impact any individual and there is no qualification of the meaning of ‘too close.’ There is no evidence that any violation of the law or regulation has occurred. The engine in issue when purchased was fully compliant with all applicable regulations and was legally permitted to be operated. Similar engines are routinely used by other farming operations. We are not aware of any other farming operation being subjected to the treatment we are now being accorded.”
 
DEC Regional Director Peter Scully said in a letter written to Best on May 31 that the DEC’s Division of Air Resources established that “none of the equipment in use on the farm requires a permit under the New York State Air Regulations. This determination includes the diesel generator mentioned in your email, which due to its small size does not fall under DEC jurisdiction. Nonetheless, DEC staff have been working with the owners of the farm to alleviate potential impacts resulting from the generator and other equipment. These efforts have resulted in several modifications to the farm’s operations including the relocation of the six refrigerated trailers to an offsite location and the posting of no idling signs as a reminder of truck drivers visiting the farm.”
 
Scully recommended that Best send his concerns to the state Department of Health’s Bureau of Environmental Exposure, as the DEC’s staff “does not include public health professionals qualified to address the health risks and concerns raised in your email.”
 
Paulette Satur said that she thinks that the continued interest in the operation of her business is “amazing,” and the issue of her neighbor and the generator is a non-issue.
 
“I’m way too busy for any of this kind of nonsense,” she told Patch on Sunday. “Yes, we have a generator. We are running a very complicated business and things are in constant motion. It’s not like there is an answer for this and I can’t update you on everything. Part of the grant will be used to hire more people and create more jobs. We’re excited to keep agriculture moving on the North Fork but there are so many things that are just unknown at the moment.”

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Lou Serrano January 10, 2013 at 01:32 PM
I live on Alvahs Lane. I had the unfortunate pleasure of meeting the owners of Satur Farms a few years ago when their own labeled box trucks and tractor trailers would come down Alvahs Lane towards the Main Road at a rather high rate of speed. All I wanted to ask was if they could please go north to Rt.48 or slow down a bit, as there are small children that live on Alvahs Lane and people routinely walk, bike, and run up and down Alvahs for exercise. I have personally witnessed people having to leap off the roadway to avoid the trucks. Unfortunately, the owners are about as arrogant and unfriendly as anyone I have ever met. I was told to mind my own business, get off their property, and find something else to occupy my time other than disturbing them. That is pretty much verbatim. Nice, huh? As to her assertion that “I’m way too busy for any of this kind of nonsense,”;she and her partner wonder why the neighbors never really welcomed her? Statements like that come to mind. And I bet you that most of the people hired ("part of the grant will be used to hire more people and create more jobs") would have a difficult time verifying employment eligibility status.
not a farmer January 10, 2013 at 03:17 PM
terrorizing neighbors destroying their property values and quality of life. who cares about any of that. .. its organic! thats good right?
thatgirl January 10, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Not a Farmer - The joke is that Satur isn't even organic! Not one bit. That Satur's so clearly branded makes it easy to avoid buying their plastic-wrapped product. Mr. Best - Never confuse the NYS DEC as a vital, environmental (and human) defense body. This is the same state agency that from Pete Grannis' "leadership" forward has been pushing the "safety" (and more importantly, profitability) of hydrofracking for methane gas on small towns from New York's Southern Tier northward. They and Cornell happily accepted million$ of oil and gas industry dollars to "study" this toxic technology for 6+ years now, and they still defend the "safety" of thousands of diesel generators running hydraulic drills 24-7, blasting millions of gallons of local tap water (available to industry for a small permitting fee, with no limit) imbued with petrochemicals to profit companies who'll truck it out on small, two-lane roads for international export. Those of us who demanded transparency for taxpayer-funded "process" of the DEC have been sorely disappointed, but all one need do is see how many millions in campaign dollars oil and gas have pumped into NYS to know this is almost a fait accompli. Time to appeal to organizations who do generate larger-scale public awareness of Satur's kind of bioterror, be that Greenpeace, Anonymous or others who are happy to help with the level of lifting necessary. Satur is a factory farm organization--no distinguishing them from Monsanto, Cargill, etc.
Frank T January 10, 2013 at 06:02 PM
"Satur is a factory farm organization-no distinguishing them from Monsanto,Cargill,etc". A bit of an exageration don't you think?
thatgirl January 10, 2013 at 11:07 PM
No, I don't think it's an exaggeration. They are not merely one plot of land from which all their offerings come; they ship in what they don't grow from other farms/areas, distribute on a level that distinguishes them above and beyond our "local" farmers, use fossil fuels to grow produce that would be typically out of season for our region, and have no personal regard, as locals, for the QOL and welfare of their neighbors. They may not compare in scale to Monsanto, but their practices are as absolutist, and their "responsible grower" status inappropriately assigned; against whom would you benchmark them?
Frank T January 11, 2013 at 01:51 AM
"They use fossil fuels to grow produce"? What are you Amish? What farm on the NF doesn't use oil or gas or as you say "fossil fuel"? They provide a service to customers by providing fresh produce to restaurants all year round. It's a great way to stay in business. Farms on the NF have to be creative if not the land goes to developers.
ThatGuy January 11, 2013 at 03:19 AM
It seems you are okay with deceiving customers that think they are receiving one product, local long island produce, but instead receive distributed goods from out of state areas, packaged and shipped at the risk of those who live around Satur. What other farm on the NF uses fossil fuel at the direct and immediate risk of residents in the surrounding area? What other NF farm is pretending to be something it is not? That isn't creativity, it is a lie.
sherylg January 11, 2013 at 04:05 AM
Paulette Satur says the issue of her neighbor and the generator is a non-issue. This is not what I hear from my friends who live on Alvah’s Lane .
Frank T January 11, 2013 at 02:26 PM
I know for a fact that many of the farmstands bring in produce from NJ or upstate NY to supplement their own produce. They do not indicate where the produce comes from unless you ask. I thought the real issue was a generator. When you make baseless claims you lose credibility on the actual issue if there even is one.
Daniella Ruiz January 11, 2013 at 09:25 PM
and i thought we had trouble with the natural odor of manure annoying the neighbors! they were 'downwind' (1-2miles) of the local farm and you might think they were being poisoned or falling prone from toxic waste by the complaints they were able to concoct. the farm was there since about 1830, but when these noobies plunked their McMansions down, everything suddenly became an issue. gotta love progress, in reverse!
thatgirl January 11, 2013 at 11:24 PM
Frank T and Daniella - This isn't some single-issue matter; or haven't you paid attention? To cloak one's brand in "natural process" (brand has marketed behind this pretty consistently), and a "good neighbor," you don't allow a cluster of issues to drag on for years while laying claim to one's "good neighbor" status. Diesel generators run 24-7, unabated outside the summer growing season. If you don't know what kind of health threat that is to inhale, directly or otherwise, then educate yourselves. Otherwise, no one's saying it's right or wrong to sell someone else's produce--unless you brand it as your own and take responsibility for its growth and safety. Under New York State laws governing greenmarkets, this is illegal, and in any other case, unethical. You might be familiar with larger brands whose produce has spread salmonella to the consumer--liability is shrugged off the brand label and onto the subcontracting farmer who grows it, regardless of fault--not a winning proposition for the consumer.
Kdodd January 12, 2013 at 03:14 AM
I say all the people on the lane who have lower property values now because of the diesel fumes from the noisy generator should not pay their property taxes. Maybe Southold town will take action then. I say keep up your work Mr. Best and Satur get your poisonous generator to Calverton and be respectful neighbors.
Daniella Ruiz January 12, 2013 at 03:26 PM
agreed, my reference was limited to simple odor. i do understand the issue of ongoing, increasing and continuous noise pollution as well as the particulate/toxic emission associated therewith. the legal convolution being exploited by this 'farmer' is indeed a conundrum, but solidly meshed within existing and conflicting end goals. until the folks at the town hall acknowledge the loophole, you and the neighbors have only legal means to challenge it and thus force the local yokels in 'power' to throw their own weight in and twist the 'farmers' head back on straight. the contention regarding legal definitions of local vs imported, mires this further, i realize, but as a 'legal tool' to use for some remedy here is tenuous. its obvious there's laws broken, but the laws themselves seem to be 'out of sync' and that is probably evidenced in many more locations beyond your locale. we had condos sprout up in the woodland near our homes, and with that came a sewer grinder station (20,000 gal holding tank, electric pump AND DIESEL EMERGENCY GENERATOR) installation due to terrain. (no gravity for drain). when the power goes out, that generator starts and runs 24/7 regardless of demand, and despite approx 1000 feet away, the emission drifts right into the homes nearby. granted, it is intermittent, unlike your situation.
AppLee January 13, 2013 at 11:09 PM
If Satur moved its noisy poisonous diesel emitting generator to another part of their property this whole situation could be put to rest. But, the owners of Satur continue to bully their neighbors and play the bull shit right to farm card. Southold Town you have let something that could have easily been fixed get out of control. You have let the residents of this lane down. Shame on you! And, shame on Satur. I like the previous suggestion of the non-payment of property taxes. Southold town should be made accountable for the property value losses of the residents of this area.
Northforker64 January 25, 2013 at 05:05 PM
I stopped by the neighbors house this week and got sick from the smell of diesel from the Satur Farm generator right away. A reporter I know called Paulette and asked what percentage she actually grows 25% or even 50% and she said to call her attorney, you need an attorney to answer or to lie for you?. In talking to a neighbor who has 7 years of labels, manifests and invoices and I can assure you that this whole business is not right. I saw produce labels from Mexico, Texas, California, Florida, NJ, Florida and Germany. If I was a judge I would order the owners into a room with diesel blowing into it and make them stay in there until they started vomiting, every day for 8 years. The site plan submitted was to operate 14 acre farm. So the owners rent another 200-300 acres locally and another 200 acres in Florida and other regions and process all the produce through the Alvahs Lane location? .....It appears that the town is at fault for allowing this to happen as well and should be held liable and responsible for failure to enforce the site plan. The owners have alot of nerve to get mad at neighbors behavior after they stuck a diesel generator right next to their homes and in the faces of all of them. In researching, these neighbors have owned these homes for generations and all of them from real farm families. The fact is that Paulette is poisoning the neighbors as much as she does not want to here it,,, its true. And its also a fact that diesel exhaust causes cancer.
Northforker64 March 22, 2013 at 04:37 PM
I stopped by the neighbors homes...of course Paulette Satur being the i dont give a dam person that she is of course the air was filled with diesel fumes that made me sick....I never saw a farmer who was bent on making the neighbors miserable because of her poor planning. I will no longer support any business on the North or South Fork that supports Satur Farms.
Kiko March 29, 2013 at 12:53 PM
Dear North Fork Natives, That boys and girls, etc. This is how it works: Satur began as a small operation, but as of recent has outgrown their real estate and facilities. The end result being that they market themselves to retailers as being 'local produce' grown and processed on Long Island, and to be sustainable, grown in Florida in winter and then processed on Long Island. This is all fairly transparent, along with selling produce to restaurants that is imported from elsewhere in the country and around the globe. The problem that comes into play is that their main baby-leaf crops are not 100% grown in Long Island and Florida by Satur Farms. They lack the real estate to do so. Therefore what they do is purchase similar produce from farms in California, pay to truck it to Long Island, and mix it in with the New York and Florida produce. Sometimes this "mix" is 100% from California. Rarely it is 100% from Long Island. Satur sells it to regional wholesalers, like Baldor and J Kings, and big box retailers like Whole Foods and Freshdirect. Satur does not disclose this information to the Wholesalers or Retailers. As far as Wholefoods and others are concerned, it is local produce, and can be marketed as local produce to the end consumer. The retailers' and wholesalers' judgement is clouded, because a revelation like this is a conflict of interest, so it is out of sight out of mind. Bottom line, sometimes good things happen to bad people.
Kiko March 29, 2013 at 01:00 PM
I should also mention that there is no oversight of the farms in California, so yes - the California farms probably use chemical pesticides, just like Satur does. Also, while Satur may be misconceived as 'sustainable agriculture', there is definitely no doubt that the California farms are larger scale farms. This is the same business model that Earthbound farms has, except Earthbound is USDA organic.
Northforker64 March 29, 2013 at 02:34 PM
Muller in the below story admits that it is not grown here....what these people in NYC think they are buying and what they get are two totally different things.... http://www.wnyc.org/articles/last-chance-foods/2013/mar/15/last-chance-foods-frisee-florida/ That’s why, during this time of the year, Satur Farms harvests, trucks, and delivers produce on a tight schedule. Müller estimates it takes 36 to 42 hours to get frisée from the fields in Florida to the kitchens of New York City. “It takes 22 hours to drive from our location in Florida,” he said. “[Then] it takes us four to six hours to process everything and put it back on our trucks and send it back into New York City or to the restaurants on Long Island.”

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