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Mar 15, 2011 5:42 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Town Considers Impacts Of Alternate Festival Site

Mar 15, 2011 5:42 PM

A proposal to hold a controversial music festival at East Hampton Airport, rather than at its original site in Amagansett, appears to have few potential negative effects on the environment, a town planning official told the Town Board during a work session on Tuesday.

Assistant Planning Director JoAnne Pawhul presented an early draft of an environmental assessment of the proposal to hold the two-day music festival at the airport in Wainscott in August, and said it would not have significant adverse impacts on a number of environmental factors. She noted, though, that there were a number of questions she could not answer because there was not enough information included in an application submitted by the festival promoter.

The promoter, a Sag Harbor firm called Music To Know, or MTK, submitted an application for the airport property last month, after its original proposal to hold the festival on an Amagansett farm provoked the ire of members of the community. The Town Board approved the Amagansett site in December, and board members have said they have not yet looked at the alternate application for the airport.

If the festival, which is expected to draw a total of 9,500 people over its two days, is held at the airport, it will take place in a field at the end of a unused runway, Runway 4-22, Ms. Pawhul said.

The town’s environmental assessment is a precursor to a full environmental quality review of the proposal. The Federal Aviation Administration is also in the middle of considering the application for the airport, Town Board members said, and must approve it as well.

Attorney Speaks Up

Town Attorney John Jilnicki on Tuesday denied all wrongdoing after a resident expressed concerns that the attorney failed to disclose a conflict of interest and gave the Town Board advice regarding MTK’s application for its music festival on land owned by one of his clients in Amagansett.

Mr. Jilnicki told the Town Board and members of the public that while he has represented the landowner, Richard Principi, in the past, he had nothing to do with the mass gathering permit application for the festival and did not need to disclose his work for Mr. Principi under the town’s disclosure rules.

The resident, Rona Klopman of Amagansett, citing a report in The East Hampton Star last week, said she was worried that Mr. Jilnicki gave the Town Board legal advice regarding the controversial festival application late last year, and stood to benefit from its approval.

“The public needs to know how the board is addressing the issue now,” said Ms. Klopman, an outspoken opponent of holding the August festival in Amagansett. “It appears that many problems have been raised by this permit and are directly related to the board not having appropriate legal advice.”

Mr. Jilnicki said that while he did represent Mr. Principi on a matter involving the financing on some trucks in 2009, he has never represented Mr. Principi in any way that would require him to disclose him as a client. Town attorneys are required to disclose any clients who have applications pending before any boards in town, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said. The mass gathering permit application for the festival was made by MTK, not Mr. Principi.

“I have never represented him on any matter before any board in this town,” Mr. Jilnicki said. “I never advised any department or any board with regard to any application related to the Principis, and not just Mr. Principi but his brothers and sisters as well, who are all part of the same family ownership. And the allegation that I had any involvement with the permit is completely erroneous and a complete misrepresentation of reality.”

Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Ms. Quigley said Mr. Jilnicki informed them he had a conflict of interest regarding the festival application during a meeting in January, when he declined to answer a legal question related to the proposal.

Ms. Quigley said it was not technically required for Mr. Jilnicki to disclose his work for Mr. Principi, but she felt the board “hadn’t been given good representation” by Mr. Jilnicki on the application because he had declined to look at it before it came before the board. Mr. Wilkinson said that, after he learned that Mr. Jilnicki had worked for Mr. Principi, he asked all of the town’s attorneys to disclose their clients to avoid any conflicts of interest or the appearances of conflicts of interest.

Offices For Sale?

The Town Board is considering selling seven town-owned office units at the 300 Pantigo Place complex next to Town Hall and moving the departments currently operating there to the old Town Hall building.

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