Proving how thorny a topic the Wainscott Commercial Center has been, and will continue to be, what should have been a quick vote to deem the applicant’s draft environmental impact statement incomplete after a much lengthier debate at the end of June, blossomed into a 10-minute discussion at the East Hampton Town Planning Board meeting on July 13.
“I’m not going to vote for it because I think it’s incomplete,” said Randy Parsons, a board member. “We haven’t had enough information about alternatives. The Suffolk County Planning Commission, the planning board, the Town Comprehensive Plan, the Hamlet Study — they’ve all called for more imaginative design here,” he said.
The Wainscott Commercial Center, if approved in its current form, would create 50 commercial lots on a 70-acre parcel near the western entrance to East Hampton Town. As a contrast, one option in the 2019 Wainscott Hamlet Study called
for a mixed use of the land, with 26 lots circling a 14-acre public park.
According to that study, the land represents “one of the two largest commercial properties remaining in East Hampton.” The parcel sits north of Montauk Highway just hundreds of feet away from the troubled headwaters of Georgica Pond. It has been owned by the Tintle family since 1984.
“The plan we have is probably the worst subdivision layout I’ve seen in 40 years,” said Mr. Parsons.
“So, I can’t vote for saying this is all we need,” he said, referring to the four issues the board decided it needs more information on before moving to a public hearing.
“I don’t think we’re approving the layout by moving forward on this,” said Sharon McCobb, another board member.
“There were conversations where we unanimously on this board said that there were too many lots,” offered Samuel Kramer, the board chairman. “If you vote against it, that’s fine,” he said. But he wondered if Wainscott Commercial would be willing to provide any more information than it has already.
“I suppose, when we have a full conversation about the Environmental Impact Statement after a public hearing, the conversation can be, ‘Well, is what they gave us as alternatives satisfactory?’ If that’s not something that you find satisfactory, that may be a reason for you to vote against the E.I.S.” then, he said.
Mr. Parsons wasn’t satisfied. “At what stage of the process does the board have enough information to deny an application,” he asked Nancy Marshall, an assistant attorney for the town.
“Well, first of all, there has to be a public hearing,” said Mr. Kramer.
“We’re still in the initial stages,” said Ms. Marshall. This vote “has nothing to do with approval,” she said. “You’re adopting the fact that we agree there are four more items that they need to submit for this D.E.I.S. to be deemed complete,” she said.
The board voted unanimously to declare the D.E.I.S. incomplete. Mr. Parsons abstained.