PATCHOGUE - The Brookhaven Civic Association and the Town of Brookhaven are challenging an illegal mulch operation from continuing in Middle Island.

Residents say they are concerned after a large mulch fire at a Middle Island facility two weeks ago.

"I fear for my health and my neighbors’ health, whenever the wind's blowing in a different direction, people are affected in the whole neighborhood," says resident Ted Swedalla.

Residents and the lawyer representing the mulch owner appeared in court today. The owner, Marien Marcario, citing a death in the family, failed to appear.

Judge Barbera-Dalli said that there are safety questions to be answered and ordered the owner of the mulch operation to appear personally in court on Jan. 2.

News 12 tried to enter the facility twice since the summer, but was blocked. Town officials have also been barred from entering to inspect the facility.