A war for the future of Lake Montauk is on, and the battle going on right now is about docks. No sooner did the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals allow one property owner to extend his pier farther into the lake, than another decided to take his chance. If this second applicant manages to convince the Z.B.A. of his case, expect more to follow.
Lake Montauk, unlike East Hampton’s other waterways, is the responsibility of the town board; the town trustees manage our other bays and harbors. The trustees have long had a strict no-new-docks policy, and they have gone to great lengths to limit what happens along their shorelines.
Lake Montauk, on the other hand, suffers from its general popularity and proximity to world-class fishing grounds. Unfortunately, upland conditions have added to the deterioration of the lake’s water quality as development has been allowed to proceed with only minimal limits. Another negative factor is a thick clay layer over the soil in some places, which helps speed waste from septic systems along in the groundwater, much of which enters the lake fairly rapidly.
A few docks will not break the lake. However, taken together with all of its other stresses, plans for any new construction on or near this important waterway should be subject to the strictest environmental review, and existing violations should be prosecuted to the fullest.