A new pump house and irrigation pond for the golf course at the Maidstone Club drew a crowd to an East Hampton Village Zoning Board meeting on Friday.
Maidstone Club Incorporated needs a special permit, a freshwater wetlands permit, and area variances to modernize and expand the existing irrigation system for the 18 holes of the west course and 9 holes of the east course.
The freshwater wetlands permit is required because some of the irrigation lines under the turf come as close as three feet to the wetlands, where the minimum required setback is 125 feet.
The private Maidstone Club golf course, listed last year in Golf Digest as one of the nation’s top 100 courses, was designed in the early 1920s by Willie Park Jr., and originally consisted of two 18-hole courses, but after the Hurricane of 1938 this was reduced to 27 holes.
“Maidstone’s 27 existing golf holes have an antiquated irrigation system,” said David Eagan, the attorney for the applicant. “Some parts of it go all the way back to 1930. The goal is to make it the most efficient with the best technology available.”
The water comes from three existing wells, and is proposed to go into a new 10-foot-deep, half-acre pond in the middle of a vegetated area north of Further Lane and east of Egypt Lane. An 850-square-foot pump house would also be placed in the one and a half acres that are to be cleared within that area.
“Neighbors would not be able to see any of these structures,” Mr. Eagan said. As far as the replacement of the irrigation lines, he said, “It’s important to understand that it’s not expanding, just putting plastic pipes in the ground. We think the scope of the disturbance is minimal,” he said. “We’re just digging a hole and filling it back in.”
It was Linda Riley, the village attorney, who asked, “If you add more water to the surface, is that going to carry nitrogen-loading fertilizer closer to the wetlands?”
John Genovesi, the Maidstone’s golf course superintendent and grounds manager, said, “In my professional opinion, no. I think it’s actually going to be safer. The water will get deeper. With a two-inch rainstorm, you can bet you would get leaching, but there’s less chance of that because I can control the water.”
Brian Blum, a hydrogeologist with Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, who was hired by the Maidstone Club, said that the club already has a permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to pump as much as 25 million gallons of water a year from its wells “on the basis of it having no impact on Hook Pond.” Currently the system draws approximately 9 million gallons of water a year, according to Mr. Blum.
Andree Dean, who has a house on Hook Pond, said she is “concerned with the toxins getting into Hook Pond, but I have great faith in John Genovesi.” She suggested, however, that the Maidstone Club be required to pay for regular testing of the pond, with the results then made available to the Hook Pond Association, of which Ms. Dean is a member.
Andrew Goldstein, the chairman of the zoning board, adjourned the hearing until May 11, to allow for additional public comment and give the board time to obtain independent verification of the potential effects of the new irrigation system on the village’s natural resources.