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Jan 8, 2019 3:56 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Planners Demand Extensive Study, More Alternatives To Wainscott Industrial Plans

Jan 8, 2019 4:33 PM

The owners of what would be the largest industrial subdivision in East Hampton Town will have to submit more alternative designs for their proposed 50-lot commercial center and conduct far more extensive testing for contamination of the existing site, members of the East Hampton Town Planning Board told representatives of Wainscott Sand & Gravel on Monday night.

With a deadline looming for the town to craft its demands for an extensive analysis of the proposal, town planning staff recommended to board members Monday evening that the owners’ proposal for nine testing wells to be dug on the 70-acre property to test for contamination was woefully inadequate. Planners also said that the town should demand to see more iterations of the development plan other than the 50 lots that would fill the entire 70-acre site.

Instead, the planners said, the owners should submit design layouts showing less density and possible open-space uses that could be applied at the property instead of just industrial lots. They also said that the State Department of Environmental Conservation should dictate the terms of water testing, to comport with the protocols it uses to examine the neighboring East Hampton Airport property, from which chemical contamination of groundwater in the area is believed to be emanating.

Officers of the Wainscott Commercial Center, as the re-developed property is to be known, were quick to note that they are already working with DEC investigators to devise a water testing regimen for the land in conjunction with the DEC’s testing at the airport.

“We agree that we need to do groundwater testing and soil testing to the satisfaction of the DEC,” David Eagan, vice president of the enterprise, said.

The DEC has designated the property a potential source of some of the contamination that has tainted groundwater and hundreds of private drinking water wells in nearby neighborhoods. A fire drill at the property in June 2000 used fire-suppressant foams that are believed to be the vehicle for the contamination found in the water in neighborhoods south of the airport.

The owners of Wainscott Sand & Gravel, the Tintles, also own Sand Land, another mine in Noyac where contamination of groundwater by other substances has also been found, and Planning Board members said that a full historical picture of the Wainscott property’s use and potential for additional contamination must be drafted.

“I would like to have some detail about what has gone on at the site in the past,” said the board’s new chairman, Samuel Kramer, who is a Wainscott resident. “It’s a great mystery what goes on in the pit. I think it is essential the [environmental impact statement] address [that],” he said.

Sara Davison, executive director of the Friends of Georgica Pond, told planners that there should also be an examination of exactly what the demand for more light industrial commercial lots is in the town.

Resident Michael Hansen said that the owners could go a long way toward winning support from the community by tailoring their plans to fit more into the conceptualizations of the property presented by consultants in the hamlet study report, which showed a mix of light-industrial lots, residential development and park space on the property.

“If the applicant had … incorporated even half of the hamlet study into their plan,” Mr. Hansen said, “sonnets would be written, songs would be sung, in their praise.”

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