ON THE DOCKET
Peconic Baykeeper, Inc. v. Southampton Board of Trustees, et al.
2010 saw a major legal victory for Peconic Baykeeper in its efforts to protect Shinnecock Bay from a misguided project proposed at 94 Dune Road, the location of Dockers Restaurant.
Several years prior, the property owner applied unsuccessfully for a substantially large facility (60+ slips) as well as channel dredging at the site. In October of 2008, the Southampton Town Trustees issued a discretionary permit for a 13-slip marina at the site, which has been designated as “significant coastal fish and wildlife habitat” by both federal and state agencies. While the new proposal represented a scaled down project, Peconic Baykeeper repeatedly urged the trustees – as did many residents and local community groups – to decline the permit because it would trigger shellfish closures and degrade habitat and water quality. Encouraging boating over these shallow flats would also inevitably lead to groundings, forming the basis for renewed calls for dredging in the area – a drastic reconfiguration that would be devastating to the bay bottom. Nonetheless, the permit was approved.
Peconic Baykeeper commenced its Article 78 proceeding in State Supreme Court in February 2009. The challenge asserted that the trustees failed to coordinate their environmental review with other regulatory agencies as required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) – a process that helps ensure full disclosure to better protect the environment. A succinct decision rendered on January 22, 2010 ruled that the Southampton Town Trustees are in fact an agency of the state, and as such, are obligated to comply with SEQRA. It also voided the trustees’ permit and enjoined them from issuing any further permits until compliance with the provisions of SEQRA have been met.
While Peconic Baykeeper agrees that marinas are necessary for the commercial and recreational use of our coastal waters, it is critical that they be limited to areas adjacent to deep water and channels, not remote corners of pristine waters.
Press Release February 2010
Court Decision January 2010