Peter Van Scoyoc

Responses to East Hampton Environmental Coalition questionaire

Running for East Hampton Town Board
Endorsements: Democratic, Working Families

1. Please share with us accomplishments or experiences that would indicate your commitment to advancing an environmental agenda for East Hampton. These may be professional or personal.

I have served 5 years on the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, my last year as chairman, and I’m in my 6th year of service on the Planning Board. I have always strongly supported protecting and preserving our natural environment. My parents instilled in me curiosity, love, and respect for the natural world, starting at infancy, by taking me camping. I enjoy boating and paddling, fishing, hiking, camping, snow and water skiing, biking, and observing flora and fauna.

2. What do you believe is the role of town government regulation and enforcement in maintaining a clean, sustainable environment? What, if any, changes are the most important?

Government has a responsibility to protect its citizens’ health and safety and insure that all resources are managed wisely.

3. What resources, experts or opinions will you consult when making decisions that affect East Hampton Town’s environmental resources?
I will ask for the broadest possible public discourse on all topics that concern the public.

Coastal, Drinking and Surface Water
4. In view of the extreme weather conditions as of late, what should East Hampton Town, as a coastal community, do in the short and long term to prepare for these changes?

Short term goals should include continuing “soft” remedies to erosion problems and increasing public awareness of the impacts of sea level rise and severe weather. Long term goals should include catastrophic event recovery plans that encourage redevelopment in areas out of harm’s way.

5. Do you believe current Town policies adequately protect drinking water quality and sustainability? If not, what, if any, policy changes would you support?

I believe we have strong protections in place. I also believe that our public water supply continues to be at risk and that careful attention will have to continue into the future.

6. Periodically, East Hampton Town’s bays and creeks are closed to shell fishing or swimming due to poor water quality. Some water bodies do not meet Federal EPA MS4 storm water protection standards. What concrete actions will you support to improve the quality of our surface waters?

Regular maintenance dredging of our harbors and creeks to increase flow. Most of our harbors and creeks currently have serious shoaling issues. Reducing road runoff, encouraging septic system upgrades, continuing to install settling ponds to contain storm runoff to name a few.

Land Preservation
Public land preservation protects our drinking water supply and improves drinking water quality, quality of life, tax rates and property values in the Town of East Hampton.
7. Should the Town continue to use the Community Preservation Fund to purchase land? If so, what changes, if any, would you support in land preservation policy or practice? If not, what funding mechanism do you propose ought to replace it?

The Town should be aggressively purchasing open space with CPF funds right now, while the real estate market prices are low.

Dark and Quiet Skies
8. In 2006 the Town passed the "Smart Lighting" law which enhanced previous legislation addressing light pollution. What are the most important benefits (if any) and shortcomings (if any) of the Smart Lighting law? What actions would you support to expand or modify the enforcement of this law?

The benefits are: reducing glare along roadways which improves night vision while driving, allows us to continue enjoying stars and the Milky Way in the night sky, and lowers energy use without sacrificing safety. Negatives: Requires education of the public to overcome misconceptions. Compliance should be made as painless as possible.

9. Noise pollution caused by aircraft, particularly helicopters, has been a source of complaints from residents for many years. Because of financial agreements with the FAA, the Town government currently has little control over East Hampton airspace. How will you address these complaints? What specific rules would you like to see enacted?

I believe that reasonable restrictions can and should be placed on the use of the airport such as night time curfews on the most disruptive aircraft, and regulating altitudes and traffic patterns.

Government Planning and Enforcement
Historically, East Hampton has been a national leader in community and environmental planning and open space preservation.
10. What is your vision for the future of the Planning Department in East Hampton Town? What aspects of the Planning Department’s organization and function are most important for the Town’s future and what aspects, if any, would you change or strengthen?

I believe that the Planning Dept. has provided necessary and valuable expertise to the Town and its citizens for decades. The analysis and institutional knowledge it provides is crucial to the future of our town. I would encourage the professional input from the department in discussing legislation and policy.

11. Are the Town’s Comprehensive and Local Waterfront Revitalization Plans adequate in your opinion? If not, which specific policies or plan recommendations do you not support or would like to see changed? Which policies would you prioritize for implementation?

The Town’s Comprehensive and Local Waterfront Revitalization Plans were developed over a long period of time through public forums and committees with opportunities for all stakeholders to participate. Both plans have been duly adopted and affirmed by the courts and as such, I believe the plans are adequate. If over time, and after open and public discourse, a provision is deemed inadequate it should be changed.

Solid Waste and Water Waste Management Facilities
The Town’s systems for the management of both solid waste (trash and recyclables) and water waste (sewage) have been the focus of critical discussion in recent years.
12. What is your assessment of the state of these systems, what are the major problems requiring correction, and what are the most urgently needed changes in policy and practice?

There are problems with the operation of the scavenger waste treatment plant that need to be addressed, i.e. non-compliance with D.E.C. regulations, maintenance, and management issues. As far as policy, an open discussion with the public about these issues is a necessary first step. A review of current management practices and staffing issues at the recycling center should be conducted. The recycling center should be reopened on Wednesdays, and an exchange center should be open on a regular basis.