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Van Scoyoc rejects application by group seeking to incorporate Wainscott as a village

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc's decision

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc's decision not to validate a petition for incorporation of Wainscott blocks a vote on forming a village from moving forward. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The East Hampton Town supervisor has rejected a petition filed by Wainscott residents in favor of incorporating their hamlet, a decision that blocks a vote on forming a village from moving forward.

The petition was filed Dec. 30 on behalf of the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, a group opposed to the offshore Orsted wind farm cable proposed to run under a town-owned Wainscott beach. Under state law, the town supervisor has the sole authority to decide on the validity of such petitions and, if valid, set a vote on incorporation.

Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said in a 13-page written decision issued March 5 that the reasons for the denial included the petition and a mandated $6,000 fee being filed with the town clerk rather than the supervisor, names of people who were not Wainscott voters and invalid signatures.

"In light of my findings, I know the petitioners will be disappointed," Van Scoyoc wrote. "I know they worked hard on the petition. If they are inclined to pursue this further, perhaps this Decision will offer a roadmap as to how to proceed in the future so that any subsequent petition will be deemed legally sufficient."

The petitioners have 30 days to challenge the decision in court, according to state law, but have not publicly announced what they will do.

In a news release issued March 6, Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott called some of Van Scoyoc’s findings incomprehensible and said its counsel is reviewing the decision.

"The supervisor’s bad-faith decision is the poster child for why a majority of us want a village: A representative government that is neither capricious nor political," said Gouri Edlich, chairwoman of the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott. "Peter knew he would be known as the ‘Supervisor who lost Wainscott.’ He has now assured himself of that with this move. We will push on."

Van Scoyoc said Wednesday that his decision was not politically motivated.

"Those findings are based on the very strict dictates of village law and, honestly, if they had presented a petition that was legally sufficient I gladly would have approved it," he said.

Members of Wainscott United, a group of residents opposed to incorporation, said they were pleased with the supervisor’s decision and urged those in favor of forming a village to let the matter go rather than pursue legal action.

"Another legal proceeding will serve only to sow further discord and make the necessary collaboration with the Town more difficult," reads a statement posted March 6 on the group's website. "We hope that CPW will see the wisdom of bringing an end to this divisive episode."

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