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Southampton marina delayed for environmental review

A State Supreme Court justice has blocked construction of a small marina approved by Southampton Town Trustees until they conduct an environmental review of the project.

The trustees had issued a permit for a small dock for 16 boats at Dockers Waterfront Cafe in East Quogue.

The original plan, proposed to the town's planning board five years ago, called for 54 boat slips on four docks. That application was withdrawn and the revised project submitted to the trustees - who have jurisdiction on the waterfront - about a year later. In granting a permit, the trustees said the project they reviewed was small enough that it would not create a pollution problem.

But State Supreme Court Justice John J.J. Jones Jr. ruled Jan. 22 that the trustees must comply with provisions of the State Environmental Quality Review Act, which call for a coordinated environmental review involving other agencies.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Peconic Baykeeper, a not-for-profit environmental advocacy group, that sought to block the permit until an environmental review could be performed. Baykeeper Kevin McAllister, president of the group, said he was concerned that even a small marina would eventually require a half-mile -long channel to be dredged through a shallow environmentally-sensitive part of the bay.

An attorney for the trustees said they would appeal the decision because they don't think a SEQUA review is required - that instead it is the responsibility of other agencies, including the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The trustees, an elected body dating to before the Colonies broke away from England, have always maintained that their specific jurisdiction over the town's waters supersedes state regulations.

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