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Runoff Prompts Stop-Work Order at Affordable Apartments

Thu, 08/10/2023 - 09:50
East Hampton Town's Ordinance Enforcement Department issued a stop-work order at the affordable apartments under construction on Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton.
Christopher Walsh

East Hampton Town’s Ordinance Enforcement Department issued a stop-work order at the 50-unit affordable housing complex under construction on Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton on Tuesday after a heavy rainfall that morning led to runoff pouring down from the site and onto Three Mile Harbor Road. 

“They’ve got to control their runoff better,” Kevin Cooper, director of Ordinance Enforcement, told The Star on Tuesday, adding that “like anyone else, they will have to correct the issue to the satisfaction of the building inspector” before construction can resume. 

The order was issued to personnel at the site, atop a hill several dozen feet above Three Mile Harbor Road, and “then I send one to the construction company address so everybody knows,” Mr. Cooper said. The complex at 286 and 290 Three Mile Harbor Road is being jointly developed by Georgica Green Ventures and the East Hampton Housing Authority. While it is referred to as the “Three Mile Harbor” development, it has yet to be formally named. 

An office assistant in the Building Department said that he had received three or four complaints about conditions at the site on Tuesday morning. “The runoff went straight to the roadway,” he said. There were deep, muddy puddles at entrances to the site on Tuesday afternoon, but traffic flowed freely on Three Mile Harbor Road, which itself was marked with muddy tire tracks. 

Ordinance Enforcement personnel initially became aware of a problem with runoff after the rainfall of epic proportions on July 16, “so we talked about it then,” Mr. Cooper said. “It happened again — they didn’t do a good enough job” to remediate the conditions, he said. 

Catherine Casey, executive director of the Housing Authority, said on Tuesday afternoon that the construction crew on site was “trying to remediate it immediately,” but “the issue is, the [recycled concrete aggregate] and the asphalt are not yet down on the roadway” at the development, “therefore storm drains aren’t catching water because they are above grade.” 

“We put a bunch of hay bales down and we have a silt fence,” Ms. Casey said. “We have a stormwater protection plan, but these rains that we’re getting are just unprecedented.” 

“It’s also true that a lot of water comes down off the hill on the west side of Three Mile Harbor Road,” she said, “and water pours down Harbor View [Avenue] and Bayview [Avenue] and Muir [Boulevard], and it all collects” on Three Mile Harbor Road near to the construction site. “So then it turns to Soak Hides [Road] and runs in the dreen. So it’s not all ‘our’ water, but the public perception is it’s coming from our site. But we’re doing absolutely everything we can. It’s a disturbed site, there’s no landscaping yet, and because there is no roadway, the storm drains are not catching water.” 

She said in an email later on Tuesday that if the developers can augment the apron — the area between the driveway and the road — and temporarily divert the water, the building inspector will consider lifting the stop-work order. However, she likened the order to a “catch-22” conflict: “We need to get that road paved so the storm drains are catching water. The stop-work order prevents us from doing that.” 

A “massive” rain garden on the site is working as intended, “catching a lot of water,” Ms. Casey added. Once the asphalt is laid on the roadway and the storm drains are functional, the rain garden “should be able to handle all of the stormwater,” she wrote in a subsequent email, “even at current and future unprecedented precipitation levels. There are culverts under the roadway that lead the water to the rain garden but they are currently above grade.” 

A call to Georgica Green Ventures, which is based in Jericho, had not been returned as of yesterday morning. 

A ceremonial groundbreaking happened at the site a year ago, at which time it was estimated that construction would take around 18 months. The complex is to feature 10 one-bedroom, 

29 two-bedroom, and 10 three-bedroom apartments across five two-story residential buildings. A one-bedroom apartment will be set aside for the development’s superintendent. A community building will feature a meeting space, kitchenette, Wi-Fi hotspot, laundry facilities, and a generator. The site will also include a playground and community patio. 

The apartments will be affordable to households earning at or below 60 percent of the area’s median income, according to a 2022 statement issued by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office, with eight apartments serving households at 30 percent of the area median income. Ms. Casey told the town board on Aug. 1 that interest in applications for a unit at the complex is high, but they are not yet available. A publicity campaign will launch when applications are available, she said. 

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