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Aug 15, 2017 3:15 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Wants To Be Added As Plaintiff In Brookhaven's PSEG Lawsuit

Aug 15, 2017 5:48 PM

Brookhaven Town is not the only municipality upset over PSEG Long Island’s decision to install approximately 175 enormous metal poles between its substations in Riverside and Eastport.

On Monday, Southampton Town officials announced that they have submitted a “motion to intervene” in State Supreme Court, requesting permission to join in as a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed last month by the town’s neighbor to the west.

In its suit, Brookhaven Town is challenging an earlier determination by the Long Island Power Authority—the lead agency for the project—stating that the new towering poles, including the 40 that line Eastport Manor Road on the Brookhaven Town side of Eastport, would not have a “significant adverse impact on the environment.”

That ruling allowed the project, which also included the installation of approximately 135 metal poles along the 7.2-mile stretch of County Road 51 falling within Southampton Town borders, to advance without requiring the completion of a draft environmental impact statement. Additionally, the work proceeded without PSEG officials first notifying either municipality ahead of time—a point also noted in Brookhaven Town’s lawsuit.

On Tuesday, Connie Conway, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman’s chief of staff, said town officials are still waiting on a ruling that would allow them to join the litigation as a co-plaintiff.

Southampton Town Attorney James Burke explained that town officials want to be added to the litigation because PSEG also failed to alert them about the work that started early in the spring. Noting that Brookhaven Town’s lawsuit actually calls for the removal of all the metal poles, which range in height from 70 feet and 110 feet, Mr. Burke said that Southampton Town could be added as a plaintiff without requiring significant modifications to the litigation.

On Monday, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine said he welcomes Southampton Town’s involvement in the lawsuit.

“Most of these poles are actually in Southampton,” Mr. Romaine said. “I look forward to working together to see if we can coordinate our efforts with our sister town to the east.”

PSEG spokeswoman Elizabeth Flagler did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Burke did note that it is most likely unrealistic to expect PSEG to remove all of the metal poles and bury the lines along County Road 51, citing the anticipated cost of such work. However, he speculated that some sort of compromise could be in the offing.

Brookhaven Town officials have been pushing for the burial of the lines along Eastport Manor Road, where a mix of houses and businesses are located, and earlier this year, PSEG officials had suggested that they were open to that possibility.

As part of the lawsuit, Brookhaven Town officials are also seeking a mandatory injunction requiring that all ongoing transmission line upgrades stop, and a proper state environmental review be completed that includes input from both them and Eastport residents. The ongoing upgrades are part of a $513 million initiative that is intended to address growing demands for electricity on the South Fork, according to PSEG.

In a press released issued on Monday, Southampton Town officials noted that the burial of power lines is not an unprecedented request, pointing out that such work was completed in the 1990s on a transmission line running between Riverhead and Shinnecock Hills. That buried line, town officials said, runs along County Road 51, south along Speonk-Riverhead Road and east along Sunrise Highway.

Mr. Romaine is not the only person eager to see Southampton Town join in the ongoing battle with the power authority.

“I am pleased that Southampton Town has joined the fight,” said State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr., who recently put forth legislation in Albany that, if adopted, would require greater transparency prior to the completion of future power line upgrades. “The failure of PSEG Long Island to comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act affects the residents of western Southampton Town as well as Brookhaven.”

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Finally! Welcome to the party Southampton Town!
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Aug 15, 17 4:00 PM
I just don't understand this. Those poles were just as horrible and ugly when they were put up along Main Street in HB. It wasn't until Eastport complained that anyone in Southampton Town noticed?
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Aug 18, 17 1:16 PM