East Hampton challenges PSEG claims on cable project

Workers plant a new utility pole at the Workers plant a new utility pole at the intersection of Gingerbread Lane and Toilsome Lane in East Hampton on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Photo Credit: Brad Penner

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East Hampton Town has filed papers in opposition to PSEG Long Island's court request to nullify a stop-work order that has halted progress at one end of a controversial cable project.

In a motion filed with the state Appellate Division on Thursday night, lawyers for East Hampton town argued that PSEG's claim that it is exempt from local building codes and ordinances lacks merit, the town's attorney said. PSEG has argued that the stop-worker order issued by the town at a Long Island Power Authority substation in Amagansett, where the contested cable ends, doesn't apply to PSEG because LIPA does not need to comply with local building codes on land it owns.

"There's nothing in the Public Authorities Law that talks about LIPA being exempt from local legislation, local codes and specifically the town code," John Denby, a lawyer for East Hampton Town at the Smithtown firm Devitt Spellman Barrett, said Friday.

The town also argued that PSEG's claim of "irreparable harm" if the project is not allowed to continue is "speculative," because the six-mile cable project is a redundant cable and therefore a "contingency." PSEG has said 9,000 customers could be affected if the cable work isn't finished and a separate primary line were to fail.

The Appellate Division is expected to issue a ruling on the matter as soon as next week.

PSEG has said, "We remain confident that we will prevail in court and be able to return to work to complete this project before June 1."

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The company has called the transmission line a "much-needed reliability project that impacts all of the Town of East Hampton."

On Saturday, an East Hampton group called Long Island Businesses for Responsible Energy is scheduled to hold a meeting at East Hampton Town Hall to discuss the group's planned lawsuit against PSEG over the tall poles and the 23,000-volt cable, which snakes through village and town neighborhoods. A lawyer for the group said the suit will charge that the cable project has affected health, aesthetics and property values along the six-mile route.

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