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East Hampton Town Board and Town Trustees to hold joint hearing on Deepwater project

The East Hampton Town Board is expected to vote on Thursday night to schedule a joint public hearing with the East Hampton Town Trustees on May 17 to publicly review a proposal by Deepwater Wind to bring a power cable from the South Fork Wind Farm ashore at Beach Lane in Wainscott.

A rare joint public hearing with the town’s two elected boards will be held at the LTV Studios in Wainscott to accommodate what is expected to be a large crowd of supporters and opponents to the massive and much debated project.

The subject of the hearing will be the two easements that Deepwater Wind has asked for from the Town Board and from the Trustees to allow the company to run the power cable from 15 turbines that it hopes to build in the ocean about 30 miles southeast of Montauk. The cables would run under the ocean beach at Beach Lane and then beneath town roads from there to the PSEG substation in East Hampton Village.

In return for the easements, Deepwater has agreed to a package of “community benefits” that will cost more than $8 million—to include the burial of power lines in scenic areas of Wainscott and the funding of a number of environmental and fisheries-related programs overseen by the town and the Trustees.

Opponents of the plans have pleaded with both boards not to accept “bribes” from Deepwater for allowing the project to move forward.

Fishermen have been the main skeptics, worried that the construction and operation of the turbines will disrupt traditional fish migrations.

The real fate of the overall project will be determined by the collection of more than a dozen state and federal agencies that will review the actual wind farm application, which has yet to be filed, and some town officials have noted that the town’s rejection of the cable landing easements would do nothing to stop or stall Deepwater’s plans—and would forfeit the millions in financial support from the company.

“We had made another $3 million in requests and Deepwater has agreed to include them,” Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said this week. “So the total is about $8.45 million in actual monetary contributions and there are some additional benefits, such as staging the operations and maintenance in Montauk for the life of the project, which will mean some jobs and other economic benefits.”