The East Hampton Town Trustees agreed this week to hire a law firm that specializes in municipal and land use contract law to represent them in negotiations with Deepwater Wind.
The Trustees voted unanimously on Monday night to hire attorney Dan Spitzer of the Albany-based firm Hoddson Russ LLP for the negotiations with Deepwater. He also will represent the Trustees as an “intervener” in the state-led review of the eventual application by Deepwater for permission to build 15 wind turbines southeast of Block Island and connect them to the South Fork through an undersea cable.
Deepwater has asked for a lease from the Trustees allowing the cable, from the so-called South Fork Wind Farm, to run under the ocean beach at Beach Lane in Wainscott. According to Deepwater’s proposal, a conduit would be bored underground from the Beach Lane roadway some 30 feet beneath the beach out to about 1,500 feet from the shoreline. It would be connected to the 50-mile-long cable running from the wind farm, which is to be built southeast of Block Island in an area known as Cox Ledge.
Some members of the Trustees have made it clear they do not think the Trustees should support the Deepwater proposal by granting the lease, citing concerns about the impact the construction and operation of the wind farm could have on fish migrations that local fishermen rely on.
Trustees Clerk Francis Bock said this week that one of the hopes is that the lease negotiations could allow the Trustees to address some of those concerns.
“Deepwater is looking for us to memorialize a lease agreement, but we don’t think we have enough details about what that entails to do that yet,” Mr. Bock said. “The town did road easements with them, and there’s probably a template for that, but we don’t have anything like that for landing a cable at a public beach. What if the cable becomes exposed? What about the concerns of EMFs and fish migrations? Those are major concerns for us. I and some other Trustees think we can probably deal with some of that within the lease.”
The East Hampton Town Board approved a resolution last month pledging to give Deepwater easements on the town roads between Beach Lane and the PSEG Long Island substation near Buell Lane in East Hampton so that the power cable could be run underground.
In exchange, Deepwater has offered more than $8 million in “community benefits” in the form of infrastructure upgrades and funding for environmental and fishing industry improvement efforts.
But the company has said that if it cannot work out agreements with the two town agencies for the use of Beach Lane, it could land the cable instead on state land on Napeague.
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