Spring 2023 Newsletter

Stop the Wainscott Commercial Center

By now you have heard about the 50-lot industrial development planned for the former 70-acre sand mine in the heart of Wainscott just 500 ft. north of Georgica Pond. Located on the most heavily used portion of Montauk Highway on the western edge of the Village, traffic on the already burdened highway and nearby residential roads will come to a grinding halt, not just in the summer or on weekends, but every day.

The project is twice as big as the Bridgehampton Commons shopping center and three times larger than the existing Wainscott business district.

A tidal wave of community opposition from Amagansett to Southampton has rallied against this proposal that threatens not only Georgica Pond, but our drinking water and quality of life. Thanks to the Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation, the community is making its voice heard and having a real impact. We have won a few battles, but the war is still on.

Working with a coalition of other groups and individuals (stopwainscottcommercialcenter.org), Friends has led the charge in educating the community and participating in the SEQR process to oppose the subdivision plan and draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). It would be the largest commercial/industrial development on the South Fork. We’ve hired one of the top environmental lawyers in New York to guide us through the planning and zoning hurdles, and through his diligence, many deficiencies in the DEIS were found and more time was added for public review. This is a highly technical process and expert legal support is an absolute necessity. We hired a traffic expert (the former head of the New York State Regional Department of Transportation) who analyzed the developer’s 2017 traffic study and found that the mitigations the applicant is proposing will NOT protect us from more horrendous traffic. Our science advisor, Dr. Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University, one of the world’s leading experts on harmful algal blooms, spoke at the public hearing and exposed the flawed science and assumptions used by the developer’s consultants. Many other environmental leaders also made compelling statements about why the project isn’t needed and what harm it will do.

We advocated that a “Special Permit” was necessary for this Planned Industrial Development to which the developer vociferously objected. Thanks to the coalition, the Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously agreed with us. Even the generally pro-development Suffolk County Planning Commission unanimously agreed that the DEIS and subdivision plan did not adequately address the environmental impacts and sent it back as incomplete.

Both the East Hampton Town Supervisor, Peter Van Scoyoc and the Mayor of the Village of East Hampton, Jerry Larsen have come out against the project along with hundreds of citizens. The developer is trying to push through this 50-lot grid subdivision saying it’s just a plan on paper. Don’t be fooled. At full build out, this development would include 1 million sq ft of building coverage, in excess of 824 parking spaces and will generate more than 2 tons of garbage every day.

You can help prevent this existential threat to our community by following the SEQR process and speaking out against this ill-conceived project during the next round. Much better alternatives exist such as a proposal in the East Hampton Town’s Wainscott Hamlet Plan which envisions a large park and some mixed uses including commercial business that would complement and build on making Wainscott a more inviting business district.

Together we can protect the progress we’ve made at Georgica Pond, safeguard our drinking water, and preserve our quality of life.

The State of the Village

By Joan D. Osborne

East Hampton Village is at a pivot point unseen in recent memory. With continued development pressure felt throughout the Town and the relaxation of formerly careful review of expansion of preexisting nonconforming uses, particularly in Historic Districts, incompatible changes have been permitted in our community. With unprecedented investment pressure and the rapacious appetites of investors looking to turn a quick profit, many historic buildings and businesses in the historic districts have been pushed beyond reasonable boundaries, simply to make a quick buck.

The present Administration’s commitment to promote growth, at the expense of proper review, challenges decades of gradual regulatory process, which, while admittedly in need of some revision, has led to a rash of projects that do not meet parking regulations or other important zoning requirements. Not to mention the virtual abandonment of Historic District standards and review.

The systematic dismantling of the East Hampton Volunteer Ambulance Association is the latest assault on community character by a Village Administration that seems committed to fixing things that are not broken. Our local Emergency response teams have always been volunteers, with the recent addition of some paid professionals, in order to meet demand, particularly in the summer months. The Ambulance Association has met or exceeded expectations, especially during the COVID pandemic, sacrificing the health and well-being of themselves and their families because they feel a responsibility to their community to serve. But the present administration, in what can only be described as a power play to control a formerly independent organization with which there have been no genuine conflicts to date, has muscled out the elected leadership.

Over ¼ of the present volunteer force has resigned rather than be pressured by the Administration into accepting leaders chosen by Village government rather than by the process which has served the Corps these last 45 years, which is to elect its leadership from its members. It is clear that this is the bureaucratization of an institution simply to broaden Village infrastructure and control every aspect of the Fire and Ambulance Corps. Creating an entirely new department as part of the Village infrastructure is no small initiative and the question must be asked: what will this cost the Village taxpayer? One wonders if a budget for this department has been proposed and assessed before the legislation was adopted – over long and loud objections by the community, it must be noted. And what will the growing need for EMT personnel cost now and over time?

Even if there was a legitimate reason to subsume the Volunteer Ambulance Corps into Village Government, the process was incomplete and incomprehensible. This is a remarkable government take-over and what is likely to become a major line item on the Village budget as the need for more paid Emergency Medical Personnel grows. The great loss however, is our sense of place and the irreparable damage to the commitment and pride that the Volunteers have built over many decades. It is an incalculable loss. Personal relationships, small town feeling and the peace that being tended by one’s neighbors and friends brings during crisis is irreplaceable. And, what’s more, it’s also priceless.

Call for Historic Preservation Award Nominations

by Georgia de Havenon,
Historic Preservation Committee Chair

The past president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Richard Moe, has observed,

“There may have been a time when preservation was about saving an old building here and there, but those days are gone. Preservation is in the business of saving communities and the values they embody.”

It was with these thoughts in mind that in 2018 the Village Preservation Society established their Historic Preservation Awards, which with every passing year become more important in efforts to conserve our village. You can assist us in this process by recommending candidates for the award in both public and residential architectural projects. In addition, this year, we are also including landscape projects as possible candidates, an important category considering climate changes that are taking place around us every day.

As in the past, the awards will be presented at The VPS Annual Meeting in September. At that time plaques that can be displayed on the properties will be presented and a distinguished speaker will be present to participate in the ceremony. The awardees will be publicly acknowledged. A reception will follow the presentations.

Recommendations can be emailed to the VPS Executive Director, Kathy Cunningham, at kathy@villagepreservationsociety.org. Be sure to include the address of the property.

East Hampton Airport Update

By Peter M. Wolf

The Town of East Hampton perseveres in its long effort to exert control over its publicly owned airport, the property of the people of East Hampton. At the direction of the New York State Supreme Court, in recent months a Scoping document, which will outline and guide the Town’s Environmental Review process, has been adopted. Among the considerations that the Town must evaluate are impacts of the proposed regulation to transition the airport into a Prior Permission Required (PPR) facility on neighboring airports, particularly Montauk. In order to run a PPR airport, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) must consider which types of aircraft will be permitted and on what basis they will be granted permission to land. Operational criteria being considered are time-based permissions or curfews; operator-based permissions, which would consider reducing or eliminating commercial operators; permissions based on noise outputs, which would regulate aircraft based on noise signature; and permissions at the discretion of the Airport Director to allow certain aircraft operations such a banner towing, sky diving and the like, oddly also including Stage 1 or Stage 2 jets. The Scoping document was prepared with public input that occurred over several public sessions at the end of last year.

The Town Board adopted the Scoping document at its April 6, 2023 meeting. The next steps will be for the Town’s Planning Consultants in conjunction with the Town Planning Department to conduct detailed analyses of the various areas of concern identified by the public and required by the State Environmental Quality Review process (SEQR).

While the pandemic had an impact on air traffic to and from the airport, residents are still negatively affected by the noise and carbon emissions from this facility. Two years ago, the Town Board wisely declared a Climate Emergency in East Hampton. Subsequently, there can be no reason why a facility that generates extremely high levels of carbon emissions; stores aviation gas in containers directly over our sole source aquifer; and continues to rain down noise and discomfort on the residents of this community should be open to traffic all-day, every day all year long. It must be regulated in the public interest.

At this point, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will include relevant data regarding aircraft operations including complaints. It’s been a long haul, but the end is in sight. Please continue to record your complaints at: https://www.planenoise.com/khto/, or https://airnoisereport.com/complaints/new, or by calling 1-800-376-4817.


ROBERT B. LOUGHEAD

July 19, 1928 – August 23, 2022

The VPS wishes to acknowledge the passing of Robert Brierley Loughead, Jr. last summer at the age of 94. Bob was an active and dedicated member of the VPS Board of Trustees, leading the organization as Chair and President for several years and was a founding member of the East Hampton Healthcare Foundation, when the VPS formed that group in 1998. An active community member, Bob volunteered time at St. Paul’s Church in Westfield, NJ, while his children were young and served on the Vestry for St. Luke’s Church when he and Betty moved to East Hampton full time.


Bob enjoying the VPS Welcome to Summer Party, June 2022. Photo by Kathleen Cunningham.

Born and raised in Washington, DC, Bob attended Valley Forge Military Academy and went on to earn a BS in Engineering from the US Naval Academy in 1951. Upon graduation from Annapolis, he transferred to the Air Force in 1952, where he was commissioned as a First Lieutenant, stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. He worked at Tactical Air Command as an operations analyst and in Bombing Navigational Systems, specializing in the B-47, B-52 and B-66 aircraft. An active alum, he wrote articles for Shipmate Magazine, the Unites States Naval Academy’s graduate publication. Bob received an MBA from the Air Force Institute of Technology, by authorization of Congress and became a licensed engineer in the State of Ohio. Bob retired from the Air Force as a Captain and worked at Savett Aerospace, Lockheed Aircraft and Lockheed Electronics. After leaving Lockheed, he founded LHL Industries, manufacturing precision parts for the aerospace and military industries. He retired in 1990.

In 1951, he married Betty Ann Simon, who predeceased him only last year. They had two children Mary Margaret Loughead Brenizer, who survives with her husband, William and their three sons, and Robert Brierley Loughead III, who died tragically in a car accident as a young man.

He was an active dad, coached many of his children’s teams, supported their many school projects and was a generous, intelligent and intuitive person. He was beloved in this community and was never without a smile. Dependable, and forthright, he loved East Hampton and worked hard to preserve its history while bringing the needs of the community to fruition. He is sorely missed.