Suit seeks to halt Battaglia Demolition

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman will ask a judge to halt the operations of a South Buffalo construction and demolition debris facility that’s been the subject of a longtime dispute with neighbors, the city and state environmental regulators.

The Attorney General’s Office said in a statement Tuesday night that the lawsuit, expected to be filed Wednesday in Erie County Supreme Court, charges that the dust, noise, odors, vermin and truck traffic at Battaglia Demolition off Peabody and Seneca streets “have created a public nuisance under New York State law, and that the facility is illegally operating without required state environmental permits.”

One of the charges made in the lawsuit is that the facility is operating without a permit for controlling air pollution from the concrete crusher. Residents have repeatedly complained that the dust in the air prevents them from opening their windows, and that Battaglia’s operations cause vibrations inside their homes.

“These conditions have robbed residents of such basic pleasures as opening their windows, relaxing on their porches, and enjoying their backyards,” Schneiderman said.

The Attorney General’s office said the lawsuit includes 30 affidavits from neighborhood residents.

The Attorney General’s office has investigated Battaglia’s operations for almost 19 months prior to filing the lawsuit.

Battaglia Demolition, which is owned by Peter Battaglia, collects bricks, concrete, asphalt and other construction and demolition debris. The facility also crushes concrete, a process that residents say blankets their Seneca-Babcock neighborhood with dust that settles on their properties. The concrete crusher is less than a football field away from some homes.

Residents have also complained about the heavy truck traffic rumbling down Peabody Street, which creates noise and kicks up more dust.

After several reports by Investigative Post in the spring of 2014, state and local officials filed more than six citations against the business. In October 2014, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer held a press conference in the neighborhood urging regulators to take action against Battaglia’s business.

Schneiderman said he will ask the judge to halt the business’s operations until Battaglia Demolition addresses the neighborhood complaints, obtains all required state permits and is in full compliance with state environmental laws.

“In May, Peter Battaglia told DEC personnel that he would never submit these permit applications,” the Attorney General’s office said in a press release Tuesday night.

In addition, the attorney general said he will ask the judge to fine Battaglia Demolition. Those fines could be up to $18,000 plus as much as $15,000 each day the violations continue.

In addition, Peter Battaglia could be fined a civil penalty not to exceed $7,500 plus $1,500 for each day the violations continue and charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, for ignoring the violations.

Peter Battaglia could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. He told Investigative Post in December 2015 that he believes he has been abused by environmental regulators.

Rebecca Newberry, executive director of the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, which has worked with neighborhood residents, lauded the lawsuit. She said Battaglia Demolition has forced residents “to live with …horrible conditions … for too long.”

Joseph Gardella Jr., chairman of the city’s Environmental Management Commission, chided Battaglia for “years of irresponsible behavior.”