Board Approves Erosion Control Course of Action

    Three members of the East Hampton Town Board agreed at a work session on Tuesday to move forward on “parallel tracks” to implement both long-term and short-term recommendations made by a town committee on coastal erosion. Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby and Councilmen Dominick Stanzione and Peter Van Scoyoc outlined the steps to be taken in the absence of Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, who did not attend.
    Town staff, including the attorneys and Planning Department, will be directed to prepare the materials necessary to obtain permits for immediate solutions, such as adding sand to the Montauk beach and beach “scraping,” or relocating and stockpiling sand that accrues on the beach during the summer months, as well as to enable the board to begin drafting revisions to the town’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, which restricts erosion-control efforts on the ocean beaches to the addition of sand.
    According to state law, the town must consult with an engineer on any project costing more than $5,000. 
    The three board members discussed seeking those services in two phases — right away, for sand replenishment, and in a second phase, for expert advice on developing new coastal legislation.    Efforts to chart a course on ameliorating the severe erosion along the Montauk oceanfront, which is threatening beachfront businesses following Superstorm Sandy, had bogged down during several recent board discussions, with Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Quigley saying the town should accept a hoped-for offer by the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild the beach even if it included using rocks or other hard structures and the others wanting to wait and see what might be proposed.
    Allocating the money for a one-time piling of sand, to protect the shore from further damage until longer-term solutions are achieved, could also pose a problem for the board, as a super-majority, or four members, must approve any borrowing for the project.
    “I could certainly draft it,” John Jilnicki, the town attorney, said at the meeting of a potential revision to the L.W.R.P., “but I don’t know what the content would be. We need the planning and engineering expertise,” he said.
    While the erosion committee recommended establishing a new coastal zone for the Montauk downtown beach, where anti-erosion measures other than sand could be allowed, the town board would have to determine the parameters of that zone and its regulations.
    “We need to have expertise,” Ms. Overby said. “It’s a time-consuming effort, and I think that, while we need to start that, there are other things we can immediately do,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said. As far as changes to the L.W.R.P., he said, “I think you’ll find that relief will be many months away. Whereas depositions of large quantities of sand is something we can do immediately.”
    Mr. Van Scoyoc noted that any revisions to the L.W.R.P. would have to be sent to the State Department of State for approval — a process that took over a year for the original L.W.R.P.
    Meanwhile, he said, “people will be in a vulnerable position” when fall and winter storms come. “The calendar is not our friend,” Mr. Stanzione commented.
    Also on Tuesday, board members moved toward adoption of a townwide deer management plan. A hearing on the draft plan had been held in December.
    Results of an aerial deer population survey conducted using infrared technology will be available any day, Marguerite Wolffsohn, the town planning director, told the board. It will be analyzed and discussed with state and federal fish and wildlife experts, so that choices can be made about specifics.
    Certain future actions that could be contemplated, such as a targeted kill, or culling, program would be subject to public hearing and separate environmental review. However, the board agreed that the overall draft plan would not require an environmental impact statement.