Montauk Battery Storage Gets an Okay

A power substation on Industrial Road in Montauk could be relocated if a battery storage site is approved. T.E. McMorrow

The East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals gave NextEra Energy Resources unanimous approval for what, in effect, will be a giant rechargeable battery near the train tracks in Montauk on Tuesday night, settling a controversy, at least for now, while in another Montauk matter discussed that night, it asked Farrell Building Company to reduce the size of a proposed house. 

The 4,154-square-foot electrical storage facility is to be on North Shore Road, an extension of Second House Road. just south of the train tracks. It will draw power from the electrical grid at off-peak hours, then release power back into the grid at times of high demand. 

Numerous setback variances were needed, for the most part because the less than half-acre site has an odd triangular shape. PSEG Long Island owns the property immediately to the east, and has said it will move its power substation, which is now on Industrial Road — essentially in Fort Pond — there. 

A public hearing was held on the electrical storage facility in July, but the Z.B.A. had to wait until the Planning Department determined that the plan was consistent with the town’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. 

Theresa Berger led the Z.B.A. discussion Tuesday. She reported that the noise mitigation and screening requested by the planning board that the applicant had agreed to, and that the proposed structures are consistent with the industrial aspect of the area. In addition, while the facility is just outside a Federal Emergency Management Agency flood zone, the plans submitted by NextEra Energy Resources call for the structures to be more than 10 feet above ground, which would be required if the property were in a FEMA flood zone. 

Ross Groffman, the executive director of NextEra Energy Resources, who attended the meeting, noted afterward the energy storage facility on Cove Hollow Road in East Hampton had already been approved and could be up and running as early as next summer. 

The approval by the zoning board means that the East Hampton Town planning board can take up the aplicant’s site plan at a meeting next month.

The Z.B.A. was split on the Farrell Building Company proposal for a property where Caswell Road hooks into Agnew Avenue. It had planned an eight-bedroom, 4,627-square-foot house with a swimming pool. Ms. Berger found fault with the proposal, calling it out of character for the neighborhood. She also read extensively from a memo the board had received from Lisa D’Andrea of the Planning Department, which warned that the property has extremely poor drainage and that most of the surface runoff and wastewater would eventually run north into Lake Montauk, already a troubled body of water. 

Roy Dalene and David Lys agreed, while John Whelan and Cate Rogers did not. They argued that while the house would be in the Ditch Plain neighborhood with much smaller structures, it technically is located in the “Seven Sisters” historical district of houses designed by Stanford White, with one behind the property, on DeForest Road. But the opponents carried the day.