The Journal News
January 30, 2008

RYE – A state Supreme Court justice ruled that the waste-removal system on Hen Island, 26 acres of privately owned land dotted with summer cottages near Rye’s Milton Harbor, is not in violation of the county’s sanitation code, according to court documents released yesterday.

In a suit filed in state Supreme Court in White Plains in August, Raymond Tartaglione, a shareholder of Kuder Colony Inc., accused the 33 other owners of failing to properly dispose of waste.

The lawsuit depicted the island as a place with an archaic waste-removal system that allowed sewage to seep into Long Island Sound. Tartaglione also claimed that trash disposal was inadequate, questioned the safety of using storm-drain water for showering and washing dishes, and criticized the board’s ban on insecticides to combat mosquitoes.

Justice Orazio R. Bellantoni referred to letters from a county environmental health inspector, which stated that examinations of the island determined the septic systems showed no signs of failure.

“The present system is adequate, given the soil on the island, the use of the island for only part of the year, the limited number of islanders actually occupying it and the brevity of their visits,” Bellantoni wrote in his decision. Bellantoni also ruled that because county Health Department inspections concluded West Nile virus did not pose a threat to island residents, owners had a right to refuse insecticide spraying.

White Plains attorney Steven Gaines represents Raymond Tartaglione and said he was “very disappointed” with the decision.

“The decision was based upon documents that we were not provided an opportunity to respond to,” he said, explaining that letters from the environmental health commissioner were submitted to the justice after the evidence deadline at the beginning of August.

He said he plans to appeal the decision.

Benjamin Minard, president of the board of directors of Kuder Island Colony Inc., said the decision was a victory.

“As far as I’m concerned, we took an important step by the Supreme Court of New York agreeing with us,” he said. “I would have preferred not to be in a lawsuit, but we do what is necessary to protect the island and the rights of the shareholders.”

Minard said that Tartaglione’s removal from the board may have triggered the suit and that the suit has damaged Hen Island’s image.

“He’s a disgruntled shareholder. He is an angry man,” Minard said. “I’ve been on the island for 60 years, and we’ve never had a problem. We are good neighbors to the people in Rye and Greenhaven.”


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