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Pols, activists fight against asphalt plant

Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley (third from l.) was joined by City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (fourth from l.) and state Sen. Michael Gianaris (c.) in his opposition to a green asphalt plant in Long Island City near the Queens-Brooklyn border. Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely

On a pothole-ridden, almost hidden road near the Queens-Brooklyn border in Long Island City, elected officials and activists protested last Thursday a planned asphalt plant that they said would bring trucks into an overburdened area and had received permits without the community’s input.

“It’s just a huge, huge mistake,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said.

Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley invited Gianaris, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and representatives from the offices of state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) and U.S. Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D-Ridgewood) and Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) to the planned site of the asphalt plant at 37-98 Railroad Ave. in Long Island City, a thin avenue with numerous dips and craters that is accessible by two almost imperceptible roads beneath the Greenpoint Avenue bridge.

Conley said CB 2 had only become aware of the plan to build the hot mix asphalt plant three months ago when reviewing the district’s waste management. A waste management plant adjacent to 37-98 Railroad Ave. is planning to renovate.

“It shouldn’t be that you uncover these things by accident,” Conley said. “There should be a formal review.”

Conley said that when he went to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the department told him the permit had already been issued in May 2010. He said he wants the permit pulled and the plant plans subjected to public review and asked the electeds to get involved about two weeks ago.

“There is no meaningful community input. There is no meaningful community review process,” Van Bramer said.

DEC documents said the permit for the plant was issued to Green Asphalt Co. LLC, at 23-23 Borden Ave. in Long Island City. The plant is expected to produce 75,000 to 150,000 tons of asphalt per year.

The plant could not be reached for comment.

In a statement, the department said CB 2 and the office of Borough President Helen Marshall were given public notice by mail and the plant’s application was advertised. They said the plant will not discharge water into Newtown Creek.

“DEC determined that the information provided in the permit application met the statutory and regulatory requirements for issuance of the air permit and tidal wetland permit,” the department said.

Van Bramer said he was concerned that the plant would bring more trucks into Long Island City. While the area near Review Avenue is largely non-residential, he said he was worried the trucks would have to travel through residential areas to get to the plant.

Gianaris said the area was also already industrial and polluted.

“This part of Queens is used to being neglected by government,” Gianaris said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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