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Jul 2, 2018 9:25 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Jury Says East Hampton Town Is Responsible For Montauk Erosion

A federal jury found that East Hampton Town is liable for erosion of the beach in front of several homes in the Culloden region of Montauk. KYRIL BROMLEY
Jul 3, 2018 2:07 PM

A federal jury has ruled that East Hampton Town is responsible for damage to the properties of several Montauk homeowners resulting from severe beach erosion along the Block Island Sound shoreline.

At the conclusion of the nearly month-long trial, the jury found that the town is responsible for the erosion of the beach in front of 11 homes along Soundview Drive and Captain Kidd’s Path, because the town technically owns the jetties that protect Montauk Harbor and have long been blamed for causing erosion in the Culloden area of Montauk.

It will now be up to U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert to determine how, exactly, the town will have to make up for the damage caused by the erosion.

“The jury basically is saying to the judge: You have to come up with a remedy,” David Kosakoff, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the case, said on Monday. “Because, if nothing changes, someday the damage could be really significant.”

Last year, Judge Seybert released the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which built and maintains the jetties as part of its management of the channel to the New York’s largest commercial fishing port, from the lawsuit on a technicality.

But Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski said this week that discussions about possible remedies to the erosion issue may bring the Army Corps back into the mix. The attorney said the town and the law firm handling the case for the town, Sokoloff Stern LLP, also are considering a number of legal points on which they may file an appeal of the ruling.

“We believe that releasing the Army Corps is one of the errors in law that occurred here,” Mr. Sendlenski said. “But we also understand that the trial judge has made magistrates available for settlement discussions that may include participation by the Army Corps.”

The town, New York State and the Army Corps have been debating for years how to address the erosion problem between the jetties and Culloden Point. In 2016, the Army Corps presented the town with a package of options for rebuilding the beach along the entire one-mile length of shoreline.

But the Army Corps’ preferred approach, which it estimated would cost about $9.5 million, called for constructing three groins perpendicular to the beach to prevent sand deposited on the shore from washing away. The Town Board rejected the plan, because the town’s own Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan prohibits new shore-perpendicular structures.

“That proposal was not regulatory compliant,” Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said. “They can’t legally have selected that as their preferred plan, because it can’t be built under the town code.”

The alternative the Army Corps presented was to do a sand-only reconstruction of the beach, using nearly a million tons of material pumped ashore from the sea floor by a dredge. But the Army Corps said it would only fund $10 million of the expected $21 million cost of such a project, leaving the town and the state to cover the rest—and the two local entities have not come to an agreement on funding.

Mr. Kosakoff said on Monday that if the town had agreed to one of the Army Corps’ proposals, his clients would have withdrawn their lawsuit.

“None of my clients wanted to sue the town,” he said. “We’re hoping they will revisit the various options that are available and work with us to expedite a solution that will suit everybody.”

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I wonder exactly how much EH's taxes are going to skyrocket over the next few years with this, the airport bill, the septic disaster and the other fantasies the board has in mind. Better grab the lube taxpayers because liberals have not yet met another person's dollar they haven't wanted to spend.
By Preliator Lives (317), Obamavillie on Jul 3, 18 7:57 AM
2 members liked this comment
I agree that this board is repeatedly making bad decisions at the expense of the local taxpayers and perpetually losing in the courts. The airport currently pays fully for itself with absolutely no taxes required of the local community. However, if Overby and team succeed in their efforts to close the airport the lawsuits against the town will be well into the 9 figures which will have to be borne by the taxpayers. They initially tried to pin the Wainscott water contamination on the airport until ...more
By localEH (342), East Hampton on Jul 3, 18 9:35 AM
Cause "liberals" built the jetties and caused septic issues. OK. Dream on.
By eagleeye (62), Sag Harbor on Jul 3, 18 11:31 AM
2 members liked this comment
Freud would likely say Preliator has issues. Lots of issues...
By Mr. Z (10653), North Sea on Jul 4, 18 7:54 AM
It is true that jetties alter littoral drift and can significantly reduce sedimentation.

IMHO, finding EH guilty for the erosion at Culloden is unfair.

Carl Fisher first constructed the jetties in the 1920's after dynamiting a channel between Lake Montauk and Gardiners Bay. In the 1940's, the Army Corps repaired and extended the jetties at EH town urging. At this time, EH town gave the Army Corps permanent easement and the Army Corps was freed from claims for damages related ...more
By Aeshtron (190), Southampton on Jul 3, 18 9:57 AM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By HamptonDad (175), Hampton Bays on Jul 3, 18 12:45 PM
Preliator is spot on. Get out your checkbooks. Lets look at what has to be paid for: Airport lawsuits, Wainscott water lawsuits (that could be a doozy), the cost of repairing and preventing damage on Soundview Drive, Repairing the beaches in Montauk, $60 million for Montauk septic and seweage treatment, the new Town Hall, the new Senior Center, an $8 million dollar cellular upgrade for Emergency response, Deepwater lawsuits. In the midst of all of this, they abuse CPF for uses that are questionable ...more
By pluff (44), East Hampton on Jul 3, 18 3:55 PM
1 member liked this comment