A group of Wainscott residents has filed a lawsuit against East Hampton Town over its agreement with the developers of the state’s first wind farm that would allow an underground electric cable to run through their community.
The town board on Jan. 21 approved an agreement granting an easement to developers Orsted and Eversource to run a cable beneath a Wainscott beach and under town roads to a LIPA substation on Cove Hollow Road. The article 78 proceeding electronically filed in state Supreme Court on Tuesday seeks to overturn that decision.
The proceeding contends the town rushed the process through without the proper review and did so in part to thwart the residents’ efforts to incorporate the hamlet as a village.
It also says the developer "purchased the town’s compliance," referring to a $28.9 million community benefits package offered by the developers as part of the deal.
"Supervisor [Peter] Van Scoyoc totally failed to balance his understandable efforts to facilitate renewable energy with his duty to protect the residents of Wainscott," Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott chairwoman Gouri Edlich said in a news release. "He has rushed ahead without hiring any independent experts. He simply turned over our beach and our rural community to this multinational developer."
The proceeding was brought by Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, a group of homeowners spearheading the incorporation effort, the Dune Alpin Farm property Owners Association and more than 30 residents living along the cable route. The complaint names the town, the town board, Van Scoyoc and South Fork Wind LLC as defendants.
Town representatives did not respond to a request for a comment, but the supervisor has previously said the project has undergone a robust environmental review and had been the subject of more than two dozen town meetings over the past four years. He also said the town will stay involved in the ongoing review process and that the wind farm represents a major step toward East Hampton’s goal of meeting all energy needs through renewable sources by 2030.
"I vote yes to advancing our commitment to renewable energy and continuing East Hampton’s long tradition of leadership in protecting the environment," Van Scoyoc said in a Jan. 21 news release following the vote.
The suit says the town should have waited until the state Public Service Commission completed its review of the project. The developers have long-maintained Beach Lane is the preferable route despite years of opposition from Wainscott residents.
"We are reviewing the complaint," Meaghan Wims, a spokeswoman for the South Fork Wind Farm, said in a statement. "Importantly, the South Fork Wind transmission cable route from Wainscott Beach was selected following multiple, extensive analyses that have been reviewed and supported by the local community and multiple state agencies."
The 15-turbine 132-megawatt project is expected to be completed in 2023.