A petition to incorporate Wainscott into a village got a hearing in the court of public opinion days after the petitioners filed a lawsuit with the same goal: Blocking an offshore wind farm.
Village proponents sued the Town of East Hampton in Suffolk County court after the town board approved last month a measure allowing the wind farm to have its cable come ashore in the Wainscott. Then on Feb. 5, the town held a public hearing on a petition for voters to decide a referendum on whether the hamlet should be incorporated, which proponents hope will help their efforts to sink the cable.
“We are seeking incorporation because we are dissatisfied with our representation,” Mike Mahoney of Wainscott said during the hearing.
Long Island is home to 95 villages, including 10 on the East End. The most recent hamlet to incorporate, Mastic Beach, was formed in 2010 to enact stricter local control over rental properties, but residents dissolved the village six years later due to ballooning budgets.
Of the 34 people who spoke at the Wainscott hearing, 13 opposed incorporation, seven were in favor, 11 urged the town to schedule the referendum without offering an opinion, two called for a vote to be held while stating their opposition, and one suggested studying the financial implications of incorporating before moving forward.
East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, who presided over the hearing, reminded participants that his mandate is to simply evaluate whether the petition is legally valid, allowing for a referendum to be scheduled at a later date, or flawed, in which case the petitioners are given an opportunity to correct any potential discrepancies.
The hearing came after village incorporation proponents and residents filed suit against the town board, Van Scoyoc, and the developers of South Fork Wind, billed as the first offshore wind farm in New York State, which is slated to debut in 2023. The plaintiffs claim that the town improperly rushed the wind farm cable’s approval in part to thwart Wainscott’s incorporation.
“Supervisor Van Scoyoc totally failed to balance his understandable efforts to facilitate renewable energy with his duty to protect the residents of Wainscott,” said Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott Chairwoman Gouri Edlich.
Meaghan Wims, a spokeswoman for South Fork Wind, said the developers are reviewing the complaint.
“Importantly, the South Fork Wind transmission cable route from Wainscott Beach was selected following multiple, extensive analyses that have been reviewed and supported by the local community and multiple state agencies,” she added.
Van Scoyoc did not respond to a request for comment on the suit.
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