LIPA and Verizon Sue Villages and Town

The Long Island Power Authority and Verizon have filed lawsuits against the Town of Southampton, Quogue and Westhampton Beach Villages

The Long Island Power Authority and Verizon have filed a lawsuit on the heals of filed last week by the East End Eruv Association against the Town of Southampton and the Villages of Quogue and Westhampton Beach.

The action by the utility companies, according to John Bonomo, director of media relations for Verizon, has a different purpose than the one taken by the East End Eruv Association.

According to Bonomo, while the East End Eruv Association is seeking damages from the municipalities for allegedly violating their civil rights, the utility companies are “seeking clarification.”

In a joint press release to the media, Verizon and LIPA said, "Verizon and LIPA have filed a joint action for a declaratory ruling from US District Court concerning the proposed construction of an ERUV through the Villages of Westhampton Beach and Quogue and the Town of Southampton.  Verizon and LIPA have been caught in the middle of a dispute between the East End Eruv Association and the municipalities involved and is requesting that the US District Court direct the appropriate action to avoid the imposition of fines or legal actions that would result without the Court’s intervention.  Verizon and LIPA will work cooperatively with all parties upon resolution of the dispute and will take any action the Court directs." 

Providing further clarification on the suit, Bonomo added,” Basically, our suit says that there is a dispute between the East End Eruv Association and the town and villages and we would like a court ruling on what is proper.  Frankly, we are stuck in the middle.”

As previously reported, the East End Eruv Association is looking to create a around parts of Quogue, Westhampton Beach and the Town of Southampton in the form of lichis that would be places on utility poles.

The eruv, says the East End Eruv Association, will make it possible for Torah-observant Orthodox Jews to push strollers and engage in tasks otherwise not allowed on the Sabbath.

In Nov., the East End Eruv Association reached out to LIPA and Verizon, obtaining approval from both companies to install the lichis; however, when officials from Quogue, Westhampton Beach and Southampton learned about the plan, they put the brakes on. The municipalities claim that the utility poles are within their right-of-way and that nothing can be placed on them without their respective approvals.

Irate, the East End Eruv Association filed a lawsuit on Jan. 13.

In a release to the media, Marvin Tenzer, president of EEEA said, “These villages and town are violating our constitutional and civic rights by engaging in an active campaign to obstruct our ability to practice our religion.”

Spokesman for EEEA, Hank Sheinkoph, said that he would not comment on LIPA or Verizon’s suits, but said, “The eruv is no threat or danger to anyone. It won’t even be noticeable. This is all absolute nonsense.”

Mayor Conrad Teller, of Westhampton Beach and Mayor Peter Sartorius, of Quogue Village, both said that they could not comment on the litigation and that they would only confirm that they have been served papers.

Calls to Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst went unreturned.


Al January 28, 2011 at 06:40 PM
Just a shot in the dark, but why should these symbols be placed on public utility poles? Why don't these people get some kind of releif of this rule from their religous governors or whatever they are called. I do not beleive that these people's constitutional rights are violated at all. The constitution provides that they will be allowed to practice their religion freely. However, I do not beleive that the government, or public utilities, for that matter, has any obligation to modify their equipment/laws to comply with their religous views/beleifs. Christians can't hang crosses on utility poles, why should this group be allowed to put eruvs on the poles? To clarify, when I say public utilities, I mean both private & public owned utilities. I do not think that this is a good precedent to set. Why don't these people put these symbols on neatly tucked away poles on private property along the routes they want. However, I would think that the Towns involved will also apply good judgement as to the type/height, etc. of such poles. I think that the Towns involved here acted reasonably and for the consideration of all people/religions involved. If I remember right, even politicians aren't allowed to hang election signs on any utility pole (intentionally I mean).
ben January 28, 2011 at 06:58 PM
Utility poles are not public - they are owned by the utility companies.
Jim January 29, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Why dont these people put away their ridiculous religious beliefs and join the 21 st century.


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