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Aug 4, 2009 7:55 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Trustees' vote allows another Louse Point revetment

Aug 4, 2009 7:55 PM

The East Hampton Town Trustees in a split vote agreed to allow a Louse Point resident to build a controversial revetment in front of her waterfront home last week.

Robin Wilder, a principal in Rowit I and Rowit II, which owns the property at Louse Point, had applied for special permits from the Town Trustees, who own the beach, and the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, which administers natural resources special permits, to build a 160-foot rock revetment to be buried under the sand. Ms. Wilder and her team of experts have argued that the revetment is necessary to protect the eroding bluff and save her house future storm surges from Gardiner’s Bay.

But a growing body of science indicates that hardened shorelines damage the environment and result in significant loss of public beach and habitat. The complicated nature of the application inspired the Trustees, who have lead agency status for reviewing the application, and the ZBA to hold their first joint public hearing in history in late May.

After a tense meeting on July 28, five Trustees voted informally that under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, the revetment could be built with certain conditions. Three Trustees, Steve Lester, Stephanie Talmage and Kayla Talmage, voted against the revetment and Trustee John Gosman was absent. John Courtney, the Trustee attorney, is drafting a resolution summarizing the Trustees’ comments at 
the meeting, which the Trustees will vote on when they next meet on August 11.

When called by a reporter, Diane McNally, the Trustee Clerk, said she was frustrated by the complications of the vote and would not discuss it.

The Trustees who voted to allow the revetment all expressed concerns about the environmental impacts of hardened shorelines, but cited the neighboring stone revetment, on Dieter Hach’s property, as a precedent that made it hard to deny the new application for the Rowit property.

“Had there not been a precedent already set with the Dieter Hach revetment that’s in place now, we all would have voted, I believe, no,” said Trustee Norman Edwards.

The revetment on Mr. Hach’s property was allowed only after Mr. Hach appealed a denial of his application by the Zoning Board of Appeals in the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division’s Second Department and won in 2001. By winning the appeal, Mr. Hach had control over how the revetment was built, instead of having to follow conditions set by the Town Trustees, who had approved only a 4-foot-high knee wall.

“So therefore, by voting with a conditional vote, we then could place our conditions,” on the way the revetment is built, Mr. Edwards said.

The conditions he cited included only a revetment in front of only one of the properties, adjacent and continuous from the Hach property’s revetment, instead of in front of both as the Rowit Trust application had requested. Mr. Edwards said he also wanted it to be a smaller revetment than the 14-foot-tall Hach revetment. Third, he said he’d like to require the owners to maintain and add sand on an annual basis and after the impact of any possible catastrophic storm.

Mr. Edwards pointed out that the Trustees’ dredging plan also would provide sand that could be used to replenish the Louse Point beach.

“An important aspect to understand is that the sand from Accabonac Harbor entrance can be dredged out of that, it’s in dire need of dredging, and put back on that beach,” he said. “That’s why our dredging plan is so important.”

Trustee Francis Bock said that he also voted to go along with the revetment, even though he wasn’t too happy about it.

“My concern is that everywhere we have a revetment in East Hampton we’ve lost the beaches and I’m sure we’re going to lose it there,” Mr. Bock said. “It’s unfortunate that the Dieter Hach one is in place because it doesn’t give us much room to deny the request for this one.”

Trustee Stephanie Talmage said she was strongly opposed to the revetment application, despite the Hach property as a precedent. She said it was a different property, with a house closer to the bluff’s edge.

But more significantly, she said, “I strongly believe that they really needed to do more of a soft solution, putting local vegetation in, and if that didn’t work, you could start to talk about hard structures.”

“I’m an elected official and I’m fighting for the public. It’s their beach and it’s their access to it, and if a hard structure goes up there, for my lifetime it may look fine, but for the next generation, their beachfront just won’t be there,” Ms. Talmage said.

“It comes down to one person’s property versus an entire town’s.”

The East Hampton Town Zoning 
Board of Appeals plan to vote on 
whether to issue a natural resources special permit for the application on Tuesday.

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yup, just keep messin with what the Lord has made.
By local (106), north sea on Aug 4, 09 8:08 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Aug 9, 09 6:50 PM