Weighs In on Ditch Plain Plans

Concerned Citizens of Montauk has asked the East Hampton Town Planning Board to call for a full environmental impact statement before making any decisions about a proposed large-scale project at the East Deck Motel site at Ditch Plain, claiming that the application raises serious questions about environmental and community impacts.

Some residents of Montauk were reportedly shocked when the proposal for a private, members-only beach club was announced in July. In a press release, C.C.O.M. reviews the project, which would more than double the coverage of the 4.14-acre lot, with a new 30,000-square-foot, two-story clubhouse containing a bar, cafe, restaurant, and game room, in addition to a spa and 7,224-square-foot swimming pool. The plans also call for 5,000 square feet of additional decking, and tripling the existing parking from 36 to 100 spaces, some of which would be underground.

 The motel was sold by Alice Houseknecht in the fall for a reported $15 million to ED40, a corporation registered in Delaware, which does not require the names of shareholders to be made public. As reported previously, the East Hampton Town attorney’s office has approved a legal maneuver that would divide ownership into two corporations in order to comply with a town code requirement that such a facility be nonprofit. Biondo and Hammer, a Montauk firm, is representing the owners.

The plans submitted to the planning board state that the club would have 179 members. C.C.O.M. estimates that a new septic system would have to handle the waste of 537 people with a daily flow of 5,171 gallons, and that 3,661 cubic yards of fill would have to be brought in to elevate the system above groundwater. Also worrisome to the environmental group is the construction of below-grade parking in an area known for flooding. This concern, the release states, is underlined by Hurricane Sandy, which two years ago flooded the area, leaving more than a foot of water for several days.

The release also states that the ground and surface waters surrounding Ditch Plain, much of which would flow north to Lake Montauk, are already compromised. It mentions concerns about increased traffic and noise, as well as the possibility that the development would limit public access to the beach.

The planning board is tentatively scheduled to review the application at a meeting at Town Hall on Sept. 10. The text of the release can be found online at preservemontauk.org. Meanwhile, a group of surfers who frequent Ditch Plain is planning a protest there on Labor Day weekend.