Wainscott Commercial Center Resource Page
The Public Comment Period Closed on March 13, 2023. Stay tuned for further opportunities to speak or write to the Planning Board.
The project known formally as the Wainscott Commercial Center (WCC) -- and colloquially as "The Pit"-- is a proposed multi-year, major construction project to subdivide the 70-acre former sand and gravel mine located just north of Rt 27 in Wainscott into 50 individual lots and to develop each one individually with industrial/commercial uses such as large warehouses and distribution centers, manufacturing facilities, industrial and commercial storage facilities, automotive related parts and repairs, construction-related operations, fuel storage and other commercial services.
The owners first proposed this development project in 2009 and there have been several iterations of it over the dozen years since. The current version, submitted in 2017, has been under review by County, State and Federal agencies as well as by the Town of East Hampton Planning Board. Since then, the entire process has and continues to center around the preparation (by the applicant) and the review (by the Town) of what is known as the "Draft Environmental Impact Statement," or DEIS. This is a standard procedure in large-scope proposed construction projects. You will hear this term a lot in any discussion about the Pit.
The applicants submitted their first version of the DEIS to the Town in July 2020, and the process by the East Hampton Town Planning Board (aka, the "lead agency') thus far has centered around if they will determine the DEIS to be "complete." The first two versions were found to be insufficient and deemed incomplete. In May, 2022, the applicants submitted their third version of the DEIS, and the Planning Board also declared it to be incomplete, with just four separate items left to resolve, during its meeting on 6/22/22.
Finally, during its last meeting of the year on December 14, 2022 the Planning Board voted 6-1 to declare the DEIS "complete." It is most important to understand "completeness" is a technical status, but is unrelated to the ultimate decisions about whether the subdivision and the proposed development plan will be approved.
Though "Complete" does NOT equal "Approved," this vote to accept the DEIS as complete marks something of a milestone for the project around this project after nearly 4 years of DEIS review, and the project has now officially entered a new and important stage: the public comment period is now officially open with the Board setting February 28, 2023 as the date to close it, meaning we will likely see one or several public hearings before the Planning Board scheduled in mid-February. After this public part of the process, the Planning Board will have to render a decision to approve or deny the application for the 50-lot subdivision. (It's a technical distinction, but approving the physical subdivision of the land is something of a separate process from approving the actual planned and potential uses of each of those those 50 lots, but indeed the two are inextricably linked in the overall development, as the subdivision as scoped leads inevitably to this intense planned industrial park.)
For a project this huge and consequential, the Planning Board appears to be pushing the public part along rather fast, and given that we have the holidays in the weeks ahead, there is really not a lot of time to get prepared. This is why this -- right now -- is an absolutely crucial time for the public and individual East Hampton citizens to shift into high gear and come up to speed about the proposed WCC project and engage with the process-- before project starts to speed ahead.
Stay tuned, as we will be scheduling some "teach-ins" and providing some streamlined information from the DEIS to help you get familiar with the project and the process if this is all or mostly new to you.
As the developers of this project state, this will be “the largest commercial subdivision and development on Long Island’s South Fork.” Moreover, they tell us repeatedly that the sole purpose of their private project is to serve only "the Town’s dominant and expanding construction, tourism, and second homeowner’s driven economy."
All in, given the scale, intensity and type of this proposed development, the WCC as currently scoped will transform the hamlet of Wainscott and the Town of East Hampton in a very significant -- and in our opinion, not in a positive/constructive -- way, pushing us further away from restoring balance and productivity to land use in East Hampton and undermining our ability to realize our local resident affordability, sustainability, natural resources, quality of life and community character imperatives.
In short, the Sand Pit is definitively a line in the sand for the future of our beautiful Town.
There are much better, economically sound, environmentally positive, productive, value creating and character sustaining multi-use alternatives for this site. But none of those, or what we like to call "good planning," will be possible without the focus and energetic engagement of individual East Hampton citizens over these next months ahead. The EH Town Board and the Planning Board will need to hear your voices, questions, concerns and opinions.
The documents and processes related to the Town's review and approval of this project can be rather dense, technical and time consuming to digest. So, this page is meant to make it much easier for you to build either a basic or more detailed working knowledge of the WCC, to track and keep up with the key events, news and milestones, and find ways to get involved. Please see the WCC resources and news links below.
WCC Resources and News
Here is a running list of key WCC resources, news updates and important related meetings/events. Check in here for regular updates.
April 28, 2023 Memo from Planning Dept re: DEIS
Read Here: EH Town Planning Department extensive memo post public hearing process, reviewing DEIS and enumerating many deficiencies and inaccuracies and stating need for Supplementary EIS process
Our Full Comments Letter to the Public Hearing Record
Following up on our Public Heariing Comments, this is our full submission to the record, including also our letter to the ZBA public hearing related to the need for a Planned Industrial Park Special Permit. READ HERE
Our Public Hearing Comments Letter to the Record
We spoke at the Public Hearing regarding the WCC before the East Hampton Town Planning Board on February 8, 2023. Here are the written comments we submitted related to our spoken comments. READ here
Our WCC Letter to EH Star
Our Letter to The Editor published in the January 19, 2023 edition of The East Hampton Star. Find it via this link to the Letters section and scroll down to 4th letter titled "Essential Hearing."
Our "Pit Primer"
In this document, we provided the basic information and links to important core reference documents as well as to prior Planning Board documents. Some of this might be a deeper dive than you're up for, but at least the references are here in one place for you to consult. Access this document HERE
Powerpoint: Pit Application & Public Hearing Primer
Agenda Planning Board 12/14/22
Here are the documents attached to the Planning Board Agenda for this meeting. At this meeting the Board will be discussing and deciding if (a) the latest version of the DEIS, dated November 29, 2022 is "complete" related to the final 4 outstanding items delineated back at the 6/22 meeting; (b) if the "preliminary subdivision requirements" (per EH Town Code 220-2.08) have been met by the applicant; and (c) if the project requires a special permit to be issued for what is known as a "Planned Industrial Park" defined in 255-1-20 as "A development of industrial land involving the subdivision of a large lot into five or more lots, each of which is at least 20,000 square feet in area." If the Planning Board votes "yes" of the first two items, they will proceed to set a public hearing date in early 2023. Access these Planning Board memos and materials HERE
Watch Planning Board Meeting 12/14/22
Watching the Planning Board's discussion of the 4th version of the DEIS leading up to their vote to declare it complete and their discussion of the public comment/public hearing process can help build understanding of how the process moves from here. Access the video here. The WCC discussion is the first 90 mins of the meeting.
Agenda Planning Board 6/22/22
Link to the agenda and documents related to the Planning Board review of the 5/18/22 version of the DEIS, including the Planning Department's memo showing the DEIS to be still incomplete as well as opinions from traffic and groundwater consultants. Access the agenda/documents HERE
Wainscott Hamlet Study
Read the Wainscott Hamlet Study, adopted into the EH Town Comprehensive Plan, which includes an alternative multi-use development scenario for the Pit 70 acres in whole or part that must be considered in contrast to the 50-lot CI proposed subdivision application. LINK HERE
Latest WCC DEIS Submission dated Nov 29, 2022
The link to the most recent (4th version) of the WCC DEIS document dated November 29, 2022 filed with the Town of EH is HERE. The DEIS is the core document reviewed and discussed by the Town Planning Board for well over a year in relation to its "completeness." The version linked here indicates the tracked changes from the prior version date May, 2022. WARNING: it's hundreds of pages and the applicant hasn't made it easy for the public to navigate directly from the table of contents, so a lot of scrolling is required to get to various sections.
Planning Board Letter of Non Acceptance
On 12/1/21, the EH Planning Board adopted a resolution declaring the 2nd version of the DEIS submitted 8/30/21 to be "incomplete" and provided the applicant with an outline of the information that would need to be added in order to be able to accept the next version of the DEIS as complete. See the letter HERE
As one would expect from a project of this sale and location, the application triggered a full SEQRA review. As the "lead agency" in that process, in 2018 the EH Planning Board identified numerous "potential significant adverse impacts" on Town, public and natural resources. This required the applicants to prepare and submit the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) according to the determined scope.