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Village, PSEG remain at standstill over Fifth Street review

10/22/2016 2:00 PM |

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Negotiations between PSEG and Greenport Village over a proposed underwater cable project on Fifth Street haven’t moved any further along since a public forum last month between the power company and village residents, said Greenport Village Mayor George Hubbard Jr.

But while the village has tried to take the lead on investigating possible environmental impacts instead of PSEG, a frequent critic of the proposal launched into a criticism of the Village Board and the mayor at its meeting Thursday night.

“You’re incompetent or something else is going on,” said Christian McShea, an outspoken Fifth Street resident who has demanded the board find another location for the project.

Under the PSEG plan, an underground electric cable would be run underneath Fifth Street in Greenport and through a 10-inch cable line under Peconic Bay to Shelter Island. The cable will improve service for Shelter Island residents; a power station isn’t possible there since the island’s board banned substations.

Though PSEG has repeatedly stated the project — which is estimated to take about two months — would cause “minimal disruptions” to residents, many on the residential street have called for the village to collect a higher payment from PSEG for the project or have it moved to a new location entirely.

At Thursday’s meeting, village attorney Joseph Prokop said the village applied on Sept. 26 to be the “lead agency” for an environmental review process, believing the Village Board could better oversee concerns about the project. PSEG is building the line to service the Long Island Power Authority, which has also applied to be the lead agency, though Mr. Prokop said the filing was made past the deadline. The village attorney also claimed the LIPA request contained procedural issues and “factual errors.”

The commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation will determine lead agency by the end of the month, Mr. Prokop said.

However, Mr. McShea was deeply critical of the village’s decisions, saying the Village Board should have forced LIPA to back off with the dispute; if they refused, he said, the village should have threatened to shut down the project.

“That’s not how the laws work,” Mr. Hubbard replied. “There’s a procedure that has to be followed.”

During an earlier exchange, Mr. McShea also claimed Mr. Hubbard, who has a business on Shelter Island, should recuse himself from the negotiations because of a “conflict of interest.” It was a line of attack previously implied at earlier Village Board meetings about the topic, though critics at the time publicly denounced it.

That wasn’t the case on Thursday night, and Mr. McShea warned the pushback would get worse.

“This is going to get a lot uglier if it doesn’t go away,” Mr. McShea said. “Make it go away.”

Photo caption: Fifth Street resident Christian McShea speaks during Thursday night’s village meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)

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