The East Hampton Town Board voted 3-2 Thursday night to grant easements for Deepwater Wind to land a cable from its proposed South Fork Wind Farm at Beach Lane in Wainscott.
The 90 megawatt, 15-turbine offshore wind farm, the source of much public debate in recent months, would be about 30 miles off the coast of Montauk.
The board’s memorializing resolution makes note that the project, which is classified as an electric transmission facility, is slated for review by the Public Service Commission, and, under state law, is “specifically exempt from local environmental review,” and instead must be reviewed under Article VII of the Pubic Service Law.
“The town recognizes that there are serious and substantial issues with the project that must be addressed and mitigated through the Article VII,” according to the resolution, adding that the town “will have a full opportunity to be an intervenor in the Public Service Commission Article VII review.”
The resolution also included the acceptance of $8 million in “Community Benefit” projects offered to the town by Deepwater Wind, and authorized the town to retain attorney John Wagner and the firm of Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman LLP for drafting of the easements and representing the town in the Article VII proceedings and before the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees the wind farm site.
Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and board members Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Sylvia Overby voted in favor of the resolution.
Councilman David Lys offered an alternative resolution Thursday evening just to hire Mr. Wagner to represent the town, without granting the easements. Both Mr. Lys and Councilman Jeff Bragman voted for the alternative resolution, which was voted down by the majority of the board. Mr. Lys and Mr. Bragman then voted against the original resolution.
Mr. Bragman said he believed environmental review should be completed before easements were granted.
The board took their vote after nearly two hours of contentious public comment from members of the community both opposed to and in favor of the project.
Many environmentalists spoke in favor of the project, saying it is necessary to offset the effects of climate change, while many local fishermen and fishing representatives said they want to see more data on how the project will affect fish and the ability of fishermen to work in the area of the turbines during construction.
“This is obviously a difficult issue, and one that the community is somewhat divided over,” said Mr. Van Scoyoc after hearing the public comment. He added that the speakers shared a concern about the town’s future, despite their differing beliefs.
Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski issued the following statement Friday morning:
“The East Hampton Town Board’s support for the South Fork Wind Farm proves yet again that they are true champions of the environment and clean energy, and actively working toward their 100 percent renewable energy goal. We’re ready to fulfill our promise to bring more than $8 million in community benefits to East Hampton from New York’s first offshore wind farm, and to deliver a project that reflects extensive input from local stakeholders.”