Residents in East Hampton Village can finally say goodbye to infamous double utility poles lining neighborhood streets after the Village Board on Friday adopted a law requiring utility companies to remove the old poles or be subject to a fine.
The double poles have been in place since January, when utility company PSEG Long Island began a project to supply “reliable and redundant” electricity via a new, higher kilo-wattage transmission line and more durable utility poles, but never removed the old poles. The project has been at a halt since April, when East Hampton Town issued the utility company with a stop-work order, following opposition to the project.
The new legislation states that public utilities “remove any damaged utility pole or old utility pole from which the cables … in whole or in part, which is attached or in close proximity to a new utility pole” within 15 days of the law taking effect, or be subject to paying $250 every week the poles are not removed.
Village Attorney Linda Riley said by phone on Tuesday that while the law calls for a $250 fine for every week that a violation has been committed or shall exist, it is not entirely clear whether that would require the company to pay $250 for each pole. “I think it’s open to argument, and certainly you could argue that each pole constitutes a violation” she said.
And while it may seem that PSEG, which has acknowledged the double poles as “an eyesore,” would be responsible for the removal of the old poles, the onus does not reside solely with the utility company.
“The last utility to move their wire is responsible for removing the pole,” said PSEG spokesperson Jeff Weir in a previous interview, referencing the other companies, like Cablevision and Verizon, that have wires on the poles. “But we don’t consider a job done until the double pole is gone. We know it’s an eyesore.”
The Village Board decided, however, to table the adoption of a utility pole law that would have required a public hearing for the construction of every new pole in the jurisdiction.
The law in question was supposed to add verbiage to an existing village code, requiring a public hearing “prior to issuance of a permit for the erection of new poles.” But board member Rich Lawler voiced concerns about the lack of specification in the definition of “new poles” in the law.
“My concern is, we may want to change the wording to say, ‘Except in the case of an accident or a storm,’” he said, explaining that requiring a public hearing every time a pole is taken out by a car or a storm, would seriously delay the process for a new instillation.
“If a pole is damaged in a storm or struck by a car, it’s going to make things impossible,” he said of the legislation.
Unable to reach a conclusion on the wording at the meeting, the board decided to draft legislation at its next work session on December 4.