East Hampton Village Board Requiring That Old Utility Poles Be Removed

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As a pole replacement project languishes, thanks to a stop-work order, East Hampton Village residents might no longer have to look at double utility poles lining the streets.

The Village Board on Friday discussed adopting a new law, similar to one already adopted by Suffolk County, that would require “any person or cooperation, including a public utility” to move its wires from an old pole to the new one within 15 days. It would also require the removal of old utility poles within 30 days of the law’s adoption, according to East Hampton Village Attorney Linda Riley, in a phone interview on Thursday, October 2.

PSEG installed new utility poles directly next to old ones in January as part of a project to create a “reliable and redundant” electrical system for East Hampton, with the intention of eventually removing the old poles. The project has been halted since April after the town issued a stop-work order at the Amagansett substation, and the new poles are not being used.

But that’s not to say they can’t be, according to PSEG spokesperson Jeff Weir. If the village does pass the law, wires would be moved from the old poles to the new ones, he said, which is a relatively simple task and would not cause any disruption in service.

“In other parts of the island, we’ll go in and remove pole by pole as part of a replacement,” he said in a phone interview on Friday. “There wouldn’t be any problem in transferring the wires,” despite the project being incomplete, he said.

And while it would seem that PSEG would be the entity responsible for removing the old poles, the onus is not solely with the utility company, said Mr. Weir.

Once the distribution line is moved from the old to the new pole, he said, PSEG will notify the other utility companies that run wires on the pole—like Cablevision and Verizon—that they, too, must move their wires.

“The last utility to move their wire is responsible for removing the pole,” Mr. Weir said. “But we don’t consider a job done until the double pole is gone. We know it’s an eyesore.”

If the utility company did not comply with the proposed law, it could be liable for fine or penalty not more than $250 each week it is in violation, said Ms. Riley. The village can legally adopt the law, said Village Administrator Becky Molinaro, since the poles are in village right-of-ways.

The village is also looking toward adopting a law that would require there to be a public hearing on the installation of any “pole, post or bracket for the purpose of stringing or placing thereon telephone, telegraph, or electric light wires” on the street before installation. The village held a public hearing and information session on the now-halted PSEG project in September 2013, but this law would create specific protocol for utility companies.

A public hearing on both potential laws has not yet been scheduled.

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