Huge LIPA power lines on Pease Lane in West Islip....

Huge LIPA power lines on Pease Lane in West Islip. (Aug. 17, 2011) Credit: Steve Pfost

Islip to LIPA: Stop already.

Town officials, responding Wednesday to residents' complaints, stopped the Long Island Power Authority from erecting power poles that reach between 55 and 60 feet above ground in residential streets of West Islip.

The poles are part of a $12 million project to replace one of three electric cables that travel along the bottom of the Great South Bay and help power Fire Island, officials said. The town was aware of the project -- in May it passed a resolution authorizing an easement. But from there, the town and utility disagree on how the work should have proceeded.

Islip Department of Public Works Deputy Commissioner William Stenger said LIPA was required to get right-of-way permits to erect the poles. The town engineer receives an application, and if he approves, it is sent to public works for further review and approval. "That's the process and LIPA and National Grid apply for these right-of-way permits on a regular basis," Stenger said.

LIPA disputed that Wednesday, saying the utility has statutory authority to proceed without permits. "We have been engaged with the town since the beginning of this project and LIPA was never advised that we would need to obtain permits," spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said in a statement.

LIPA began installing the poles several weeks ago on Beach Drive by the West Islip Marina, moving gradually north past Good Samaritan Hospital to Montauk Highway, town officials and residents said. But once the poles crossed Montauk Highway, residents said, they became taller, reaching a maximum of between 55 and 60 feet on Pease Lane.

Residents were dismayed. "The new poles make the old telephone poles look like small toothpicks right next to them," said Milligan Lane resident Richard Demasi, who has a prime view of six poles from his house.

Town Supervisor Phil Nolan, who received a resident's call Friday, visited the site Saturday and issued a stop-work order Monday, with the town attorney faxing LIPA a follow-up letter Tuesday. But when LIPA workers proceeded, Nolan revisited the site Wednesday. Work ceased around noon, officials said.

"We will sit down with LIPA to seek an alternative method to complete the project that doesn't affect residential neighborhoods," Nolan said.

LIPA pointed out the project was undertaken to benefit customers by maximizing the strength and reliability of the LIPA system. But to address community concerns, "We will go back and look at possible alternatives which may ultimately impact reliability in the area," said Baird-Streeter's statement.

"I'm hoping they remove them, they're horrible to look at," said Alex Corvo, who lives on Pease Lane with her husband, Fred, and three daughters.

"They bring down the value of our property and I would think they're physically dangerous."

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