Deepwater Opponents Will Seek Incorporation

Stephen J. Kotz

A group of Wainscott residents opposing an offshore energy project will move to incorporate.

Members of the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, Inc., a group opposed to Ørsted and Eversource Energy’s South Fork Wind Farm project, have been pressuring the owners who want to bring an energy cable onshore at Beach Lane.

Wainscott citizens received a letter from Gouri Orekondy Edlich, the chairwoman of the committee, detailing members were looking to secede from the Town of East Hampton.

“We have formed an exploratory committee for the incorporation of Wainscott,” the letter read. “Given multiple once-in-a-generation zoning-related issues in Wainscott, as well as the town’s continued lack of responsiveness to our community, many of you have encouraged us to exercise our constitutional right to greater home rule. Incorporation as the Village of Wainscott would allow us to exercise greater control over our zoning and provide more responsive services to our community.”

Many group members said they feel the East Hampton Town Board and town Trustees, who have to approve a variance for the project, caved despite initial concerns after Ørsted reportedly sweetened the deal with a “benefit package” worth millions of dollars.

Hamlet citizens had talked about seceding two years ago, after a plume emanating from the airport in East Hampton contaminated private water wells.

Edlich made it clear the new village would target the offshore wind project as it is currently imagined, citing other less-impactful alternatives that have been uncovered and that Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott members have said the town, trustees and the companies are willfully ignoring.

The group has been laying the groundwork for incorporation for almost a year.

“Based on the initial findings from public affairs advisors, we have engaged,” Edlich said. “We are now prepared to formally explore the incorporation of Wainscott as a village.”

The Village of Sagaponack incorporated in 2005. It is adjacent to Wainscott and similar in size, spanning 4.6 square miles. It has a year-round population of approximately 350 residents, and more than 1000 part-time residents.

Westhampton Dunes incorporated in 1993. East Quogue residents tried to incorporate last year, but the vote failed. Montauk and Bridgehampton have also considered the move at one time or another in recent years.

To be eligible, a geographical area must be defined and citizens identified. A petition process culminates with a review of the documents and petition signatures by the town supervisor, who, if he or she finds the paperwork to be in order, announces when a popular vote will take place that decides the matter.

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