Look what you did

Judge confirms that Cascino’s dumps ‘taint and corrupt’ town
COPAKE—It’s official: Salvatore Cascino did all the bad things the town said he did, and now he has to fix them.
In the midst of a contentious budget season, Copake got a bit of good news in a November 3 decision from Acting State Supreme Court Judge Jonathan D. Nichols that permanently forbids Mr. Cascino from ever again engaging in certain illegal activities on his 300-acre property called Copake Valley Farm, along the east side of Route 22 on the south end of town. Mr. Cascino, who lives in Larchmont, and owns and operates a Bronx-based waste-hauling business called Bronx County Recycling, has a 13-year history of violating federal, state and town law—mostly in connection with illegal dumping. This latest decision relates to the town’s main lawsuit filed against Mr. Cascino in 2006. The matter was the subject of a trial at the Columbia County Courthouse, February 25 and 26 and March 11, 2009.
Judge Nichols found, based on the evidence presented to him, that Mr. Cascino:
•Dumped trash, litter, construction and demolition (c+d) debris, including wood pallets, glass, dirt, rebar, rock, concrete, asphalt, bricks, plastic bags, bottles and leaves
•Stored, maintained and serviced trucks, trailers, construction equipment and machinery other than farm machinery
•Used the property as a base of operations for his waste-hauling and recycling business
•Stored and maintained construction materials on the property
•Transported soil, gravel, stone and other materials to and from the property
•Enlarged and altered the existing farm stand buildings without a permit
•Constructed a steel bridge over the Nosterkill without a permit
•Constructed a stone wall without a permit.
The decision left no doubt about the seriousness of the findings. Mr. Cascino’s “acts taint and corrupt the general area so as to destroy the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of the residents of the Town in the vicinity, and have endangered, impaired and imperiled…the health of the public, have defeated… public policy, have constituted…an open, public and continuous nuisance in the Town and have been…subversive to and have caused… irreparable injury to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Town,” Judge Nichols wrote.
The judge’s decision goes on to “permanently” prohibit Mr. Cascino from using the property in violation of Town Zoning Law and directs that such violations be terminated.
The judge bars Mr. Cascino from:
•Dumping any solid waste on the property, operating any commercial or industrial enterprise, including commercial composting on the property
•Engaging in construction or excavation without permits
•Using the garage for the maintenance, repair and storage of trucks, tractor trailers and other equipment used in his waste-hauling and recycling business.
Mr. Cascino’s brushes with local and state law have been going on for so long that he has built up a formidable list of steps he was required to take to remedy violations but has previously ignored or only partially completed. In addressing that issue, the judge ordered Mr. Cascino to:
•Remove the steel bridge he constructed over the Noster Kill and restore the farm road leading to it to its pre-existing condition before he widened it by 10 feet
•Restore the farm stand buildings to their pre-existing condition prior to 2006, including removal of the concrete slab, all exterior joists, trellises and lattice work
•Remove all wood pallets and construction material stored on the property
•Remove all the fill he dumped on the property, involving at a minimum, 150,000 cubic yards of material
•Remove the stone wall erected on the property after 2006
•Remove all solid waste dumped on the property, including but not limited to trash, litter and c+d, including glass, rebar, dirt, rock, concrete, asphalt, plastic bags, bottles and bricks.
And so there is no confusion, Judge Nichols orders Mr. Cascino to pay all the costs associated with doing so.
The judge’s ruling effectively makes permanent a temporary restraining order the judge issued November 27, 2006. Mr. Cascino was found guilty of criminal and civil contempt for violating that order in June 2009.
The decision “gives us everything we were asking for,” Copake’s attorney, Victor Meyers, told The Columbia Paper Wednesday.
Mr. Cascino was building and dumping without permits, now he has to remove it all and the decision permanently enjoins him from doing this activity again, said Mr. Meyers, noting that Mr. Cascino could be doing time behind bars if he is held in contempt again.
Though the judge’s order specifies no timeframe by which Mr. Cascino must complete all the undoing of what he has done, Mr. Meyers said he hopes to “work out with the court” some fixed timetable.
Mr. Cascino still faces court proceedings with regard to actions brought against him by the state Attorney General’s Office on behalf of the Department of Environmental Conservation.
According to his office, Dennis Schlenker, who represents Mr. Cascino, was in federal court Wednesday. He did not return a call for comment on the matter by press deadline.
Copake Councilwoman Linda Gabaccia, who has been the town’s liaison on Casino matters, said the town stood up to Mr. Cascino and triumphed in this instance. But she cautioned that the town should not end its vigilance and should continue its pursuit of Mr. Cascino for the $21,000 in legal fees he owes the town.
Supervisor Reggie Crowley said he had not yet seen the decision and could not comment on it.
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