Westhampton Beach Explores Eminent Domain to Advance Sewer Project

Sewers are coming to downtown Westhampton Beach, pending potential litigation. (Getty Images)

The Village of Westhampton Beach may condemn portions of Main Street properties needed to advance long-sought construction of the community’s $17 million sewer system project.

The village board approved a measure authorizing the potential use of eminent domain proceedings to acquire easements from property owners that have been reluctant to sign agreements that would allow Westhampton Beach contractors to run sewer lines through the properties.

“There’s three property owners that weren’t able to voluntarily sign the easement agreement,” Mayor Maria Moore told the board on March 4. “We may have to start a condemnation proceeding, but that remains to be seen. Just in case, we need to have a resolution in place.”

The project was launched in 2017 with the goal of connecting the downtown commercial district and two condominiums to the system to reduce groundwater pollution from septic systems seeping in surrounding waterways. Wastewater will instead be pumped to Suffolk County Sewer District 24’s treatment plant at Frances S. Gabreski Airport, which serves the airport, the Air National Guard base and companies in the Hampton Business District.

Of 13 easements needed to advance the project, nine property owners voluntarily signed agreements. One building is in foreclosure and the receiver appointed to handle the proceeding was expected to sign the agreement, Moore said. Another later agreed to sign the agreement. The two holdouts include Patio Building Condominium Corporation and Rolling Pin Inc.

“Due to the layout of the area and the location of the … properties, there are no other possible alternative locations for placement of underground sewer lines … and manholes,” the village resolution stated. No representatives of the holdouts spoke at a November public hearing on the issue.

The village hired the Riverhead-based law firm of Esseks, Hefter, Angel, Di Talio & Pasca LLP to handle the condemnation proceedings. Construction is still expected to start at the end of this year.

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