Judge denies PSEG request to quash East Hampton stop-work order

Workers replace poles with taller ones on Toilsome

Workers replace poles with taller ones on Toilsome Lane in East Hampton. Photo Credit: John Roca

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A State Supreme Court judge Monday denied PSEG Long Island's request for a temporary restraining order to quash a stop-work order issued by East Hampton Town on a contested transmission project.

Acting Justice Ralph Gazzillo said he was "not satisfied by clear and convincing evidence that there would be irreparable harm" if PSEG were blocked from immediately continuing work at a LIPA substation in Amagansett.

PSEG had argued 9,000 customers would face an outage in the summer peak season if work weren't allowed to continue.

The town issued a stop-work order a week ago, charging PSEG had failed to get the proper building permits to work on the substation, which is at the end of a contested 6.2-mile transmission line.

John Denby, a lawyer for the town, noted the power line was "redundant" and called PSEG claims of potential damage if work were not completed by summer "speculative."

James Ryan, a lawyer for PSEG and LIPA, argued there was a risk of "irreparable harm" to thousands of East Hampton customers if the existing power lines fail this summer. He said LIPA is exempt from building codes and permit requirements on land it owns.

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In ruling for the town, Gazzillo said PSEG's arguments were too often "based on 'if and could' " claims.

The parties will be back in court at a later date to argue for PSEG's request for a declaratory judgment that it is exempt from the codes and an injunction to allow substation work to continue. PSEG has already installed all 267 poles along the 6.2 miles of the project, and strung cable on slightly less than half of those large poles.

The project has been the source of increasing tensions in the town since work began on McGuirk Street, a small village road of homes on quarter-acre lots whose residents where angered when the poles went up in February.

Residents, through a group called Long Island Businesses for Responsible Energy, have hired attorney Irving Like of Babylon to file a lawsuit that will seek a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction stopping the work, according to Like.

He said the suit, to be filed in coming weeks, will argue that the high-voltage overhead line will reduce residents' property values, impact residents' health and diminish the aesthetics of the neighborhood.

"The only way to do it is to get before a court," said Like, who had helped defeat opening of the Shoreham nuclear power plant by LIPA's predecessor, the Long Island Lighting Co.

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