The Southampton Town Trustees on Monday afternoon began—for a third time—their review of plans for new boat docking facilities at Dockers Waterside Restaurant and Marina on Dune Road in East Quogue.
The Trustees opened their latest review of the application, which is identical to one they approved in 2008 but was nullified in 2010 by a state judge, by poring over an environmental assessment form prepared for them by town consulting firm Nelson Pope & Voorhis. The form lays out the physical details of the proposed work and explores what the expected impact of each component could be on the surrounding area, both above and below the waterline.
Over the next month, the Trustees will have to decide whether the application warrants a more exhaustive analysis and the completion of a state environmental impact statement, or EIS. If the Trustees deem that an EIS is necessary, the State Environmental Quality Review Act would lay out a detailed map and time line of the project’s review, which could take months and cost Dockers owner Larry Hoffman thousands to complete. The process would require public scoping sessions and comment periods.
If they determine that the plan, which calls for 16 boat slips on three floating docks, with a 26-foot-by-31-foot floating platform for launching kayaks, does not pose any significant impacts to the surrounding region, the Trustees can opt to forego the more expensive and time-consuming review process and simply conduct their own examination and assessment.
“You need to determine the consequences of this [project] and whether there would be one or more potential environmental impacts,” consultant Charles Voorhis told the Trustees. “If there is a determination of one or more impacts, it would require that the project be subject to the EIS process. If there is a determination that there are not one or more potential impacts ... then you are done with the SEQRA process and you proceed with your review.”
The Trustees—minus Trustee Bill Pell, who has recused himself from the review because of public statements he made about Mr. Hoffman while running for the board—have 20 days to make their determination on whether or not to require an EIS.
Mr. Hoffman’s desire to expand and spruce up his docking facilities has been on the Trustees’ plate since 2003, when he first came to them with his original, more ambitious plan for a 54-slip marina with refueling facilities. That plan died amid public outcry. When the scaled-back version of his plan was approved, the Trustees were sued by the Peconic Baykeeper organization, which claimed that the Trustees did not properly follow the state review process. The Trustees, in turn, contended that they can legally regulate the town’s tidal and fresh waters without state interference—a point that was rejected by the courts.
Hampton Bays resident Mary Jean Green on Monday implored the board to demand the most detailed review of the proposal.
“I would like to make the case for the public having an opportunity to speak before you make the determination,” she said. “I think there are people in this community who could bring out some salient points that you may or may not realize.”
Town Planner Claire Vail noted that state guidelines do not call for public comment prior to an agency making its determination on whether or not the more detailed review is needed.