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Moot Bus Depot Complaint Is Dismissed

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 18:55

A State Supreme Court judge has sided with the East Hampton School District in a complaint filed by the Cedar Street Committee, a group of residents who sought late in 2017 to block the district from building a new bus depot on a slice of school property off Cedar Street.

On Sept. 3, Justice William G. Ford upheld the district?s determination that building such a facility would not have a significant impact on the local environment. Under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, the finding is known as a negative declaration. The Cedar Street Committee challenged that in an Article 78 complaint.

“The [East Hampton Union Free School District] has adequately demonstrated a thorough review covering concerns of noise and groundwater pollution, adverse impacts to traffic, and visual effects,” Justice Ford wrote in his dismissal. “Having done so, the respondent has persuaded this court [that] the SEQRA negative declaration under review was rational and supported by substantial evidence.”

Since the lawsuit was filed, the Cedar Street property has been taken off the table as the location of the future transportation facility. The East Hampton School District instead entered into a contract with East Hampton Town to purchase the former scavenger waste site on Springs-Fireplace Road for the bus depot.

Richard Burns, the school superintendent, said this week the purchase has not yet closed because regulatory hurdles with the County Department of Health Services have yet to be resolved and a curb-cut application put forth by East Hampton Town has yet to be approved by the county’s Department of Public Works. Voters approved a bond referendum for the purchase and development of the property last May.

Representatives of the Cedar Street Committee could not be reached for comment this week.

In the meantime, East Hampton continues leasing a property on Route 114 for its transportation hub. Jerel Cokley, the district?s assistant superintendent for business, said in an email that the lease there ends in the fall of 2021. He said the district pays about $200,000 per year for the property.

J.P. Foster, the East Hampton School Board president, said at a meeting of the school board last week that the district was eager to move forward with the new facility. “We’re ready,? he said. ?We’d like to build it this winter.”   

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