The Maidstone Club’s effort to implement its irrigation improvement project took a small step forward on Friday when the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals approved an outline for an environmental impact statement it has asked the club to prepare.
The proposed project has sparked a contentious debate between the club, which seeks to install new piping, add a third well, build a pump house, and create a .65-acre holding pond, and opponents who fear noise emanating from the pump house and a detrimental impact on the environment. The club is adjacent to Hook Pond and the Atlantic Ocean. In September, the board voted to require a full environmental study of the project.
The next step is to decide on the parameters, or scope, of that study. “We’ve had a consultant analyze the submission by the applicant and the various submissions by interested members of the community,” said Andrew Goldstein, the board’s chairman.
Mr. Goldstein asked the consultant, Charles Voorhis, managing partner of Nelson, Pope, and Voorhis, to explain the process in which he provided the scoping resolution.
Public comments were made at the board’s Nov. 30 meeting, and the village subsequently received several letters with additional comment. The written comment period expired on Dec. 7, said Mr. Voorhis. “Those have all been considered for the purpose of adopting a final scope, which is the village’s responsibility at this time,” he said.
“We’ve taken the draft scope, modified it in order to comply with [State Environmental Quality Review Act] scope format requirements, and included relevant input that was received by the board. This final scope is modified from the one that was available on the 30th, and we’ve added quite a bit of requested detail on the proposed project,” he said.
The final scope, Mr. Voorhis said, adds content detailing the extent and quality of information needed to address environmental impacts of the project. “There’s a lot of interest, of course, in this project, so many of the things had to do with ensuring that the hydrologic analysis is accurate and well-referenced,” he told the board. The draft scope, he said, included applicant-generated source documents, which are on file with the board. “When those are repackaged into the [environmental impact statement], they’ll be reviewed and subject to scrutiny under the E.I.S. review process. But we wanted to make sure that this was an objective and independent document, and it identified the source documents that are used to generate those conclusions,” he said.
Jim Sykes, who identified himself as a neighbor and member of the Maidstone Club, expressed concern about a potential increase in mosquito activity at the proposed irrigation pond, referencing a letter addressed to the board by an attorney representing an opponent of the project. “I don’t know if that’s in [the scope] or not,” he said.
“I don’t think a specific reference to mosquitoes is contained in this scope,” Mr. Goldstein answered. “But the fact is that the applicant, having been forewarned, may include it in their draft of the D.E.I.S. If it is, it will draw comment, and I think at that time you will be free to say whatever you want to say about it.”
If it is not in the scope, Mr. Sykes asked, would it be proper to raise the issue?
“I would think it’s going to be,” Mr. Goldstein said. Mr. Voorhis then said that the draft scope contains a detailed outline of an ecological impact assessment that would include changes to the site, particularly at the irrigation pond. That could be added to the final scope, said Mr. Goldstein.
“May I request that that be done? I don’t think Maidstone would have any objection,” said Mr. Sykes.
“I think what Mr. Voorhis is saying is that, essentially, it’s in there now, in a generic way,” Mr. Goldstein replied.
The board also heard from the Rev. Denis Brunelle, the rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. A special permit granted in 2004 with respect to construction of the church’s parish house did not reference children’s playground equipment situated at the edge of the property, Mr. Goldstein said. “Apparently it was a total oversight that it was omitted from the determination granting the special permit,” Mr. Goldstein said. “So we’d like to modify the special permit.”
“It wasn’t on any of the surveys, so we’re trying to have the original determination reflect the fact that the playground has been in existence there for well over 50 years,” said Mr. Brunelle, who added that the church wants to dispose of old playground equipment that has become unsafe and replace it with new equipment. “We’re just trying to follow the right procedure.”
The board can modify the special permit, Mr. Goldstein said. “That’s what we’ll do.”