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East Hampton homeowner sues PSEG over 'monster pole'

A PSEG plan to bury overhead utility lines

A PSEG plan to bury overhead utility lines in East Hampton Village calls for the installation of a 55-foot riser pole in front of this Cooper Lane home. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

PSEG Long Island has agreed to bury some controversial utility lines in East Hampton Village, but one homeowner said the compromise would put a five-story pole looming over his “dream home” and is suing the utility.

In 2014, PSEG installed 267 wood poles along 6.2 miles from Amagansett to East Hampton, a plan to harden the electric grid that caused outcry from residents claiming it was inappropriate for the bucolic town. The company recently reached an agreement with the village to bury 2,650 feet of utility lines and to reduce the height of 23 poles on McGuirk and King streets, a PSEG spokeswoman said. She would not say how the project would be funded. 

To do so requires the installation of a 55-foot riser pole with cross arms and wires climbing the pole to connect underground, PSEG said. That pole would be placed directly in front of Daniel and Yvonne Ujvari’s Cooper Lane residence, a one-story, three-bedroom house they describe as their dream home.

“This is going to utterly destroy my personal ability … to enjoy our home,” Daniel Ujvari said during a public hearing Tuesday. “It’s a small home. It’s a little postage stamp of a property.”

Ujvari filed a lawsuit against PSEG, East Hampton town and village in state Supreme Court on Friday asking that a public hearing be held by the village and that PSEG consider other locations for what Ujvari calls a “monster pole.” A PSEG spokeswoman described it as an “ordinary pole” and at 55 feet it would be smaller than the much-maligned 80- to 110-foot poles the utility is removing in Eastport.

The proposed East Hampton pole “looks like a cross between an industrial installation and something from outer space,” reads Ujvari’s complaint. The village set a public hearing for Tuesday, after the lawsuit was filed.

A PSEG representative speaking at the meeting said the utility needs the village to decide whether to move forward with the project by Jan. 31 to complete it before the 2020 summer season. If not, it will have to delay the plan a year while it considers other locations for the riser pole.

One alternative riser pole location discussed was the nearby Cedar Lawn Cemetery, although those speaking at the meeting said East Hampton Town balked at that site. Town officials declined to comment as the town is named in Ujvari’s lawsuit.

Another lawsuit led by village resident Helene Forst and joined by the town seeking the poles' removal is also pending.

Interim Village Mayor Richard Lawler said Tuesday the board will keep the record open until Jan. 29, after which it will issue its decision.

McGuirk Street residents said they understood the hardship on the Ujvaris, but urged PSEG to address the high-tension wires in their neighborhood.

“It’s unfortunate that they have to make another problem by damaging someone else’s property values, just like ours are affected,” McGuirk Street resident Virginia Hessler said.

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