Well, hello there sweet, sweet irony.
Actor, Words with Friends enthusiast, and omnipresent TV spokesperson Alec Baldwin has long provided a passionate voice and an open wallet in the ongoing effort to thwart overdevelopment in East Hampton, N.Y., the hoighty-toighty seaside town where he owns a ginormous house. Baldwin, like many preservation-minded residents in the area, wants to keep things just the way they are: sleepy, agrarian and filled predominately with massive, immaculately maintained second homes.
Yet according to the Wall Street Journal, Baldwin’s rampant NIMBYism — he conceived the East Hampton Conservators and has given generously to the East Hampton branch of the Democratic Party and other development-fighting entities — has perhaps come back to bite him in his Long Island.-reared derrière.
Here’s the thing: In addition to caring about preserving the bucolic charm of his beloved East Hampton Town, Baldwin is also an environmentalist keen on exploring renewable energy options. And that includes installing a 120-foot wind turbine capable of generating 10,000 kWh of electricity annually on his Amagansett property.
It goes without saying that wind turbines, like any aesthetic deviance, aren’t exactly the norm amongst residents in East Hampton even though, weirdly enough, a windmill appears on the town seal. So now, Baldwin must deal with disapproving neighbors and attempt to wade through a swamp of bureaucratic red tape — red tape that he helped to nourish, mind you — to make his wind powered dreams a reality.
“I want to build something that is environmentally forward-thinking. I'm not building a satellite dish so I can watch the Knicks game,” explained Baldwin, noting that “all of my neighbors are front and center against the wind turbine.”
Or are they?
According to the WSJ, thus far there have been no real public freak-outs regarding the recently hitched "30 Rock" actor’s wind turbine scheme. Job Potter, a member of the family that presides over the strictly governed farm-turned-subdivision where Baldwin owns his home, remains mum on whether or not he and his clan will allow Baldwin to move forward. Neighbor Kent Miller sees no issue with Baldwin erecting East Hampton’s very first residential wind turbine. "We really need this alternative energy, and we need to make it work somehow,” he tells the WSJ.
Even East Hampton supervisor Bill Wilkinson, a Republican whom Baldwin has badmouthed in the past, is qualm-fee at this point: “I have no issues with it. I think there is adequate property there. I think it would be a nice application, in spite of what the property owner writes in the papers about me." However, Wilkinson is concerned about the possibility that Baldwin could spark a wind turbine-erecting trend in the area, particularly in less rural sections of East Hampton like Montauk.
If Baldwin gets the green-light from his subdivision, he’ll have to go before the East Hampton Town Board for approval of his recently submitted proposal, a process that will include a public hearing. If Baldwin does ultimately receive the town’s blessing, his wind turbine will be one of only 13 on all of Long Island. And to be clear, there are indeed other wind turbines in and around East Hampton Town including one at the Amagansett firehouse and a couple on nearby commercial farms, according to the East Hampton Star. Baldwin's turbine, however, would be the first installed on residential property.
If the plan is struck down, Baldwin hopes that his proposal will open a dialogue about the possibility of wind turbines on Long Island. “The bottom line is, this technology is going to come. There are going to be wind turbines everywhere in this country," says Baldwin.
And in other celebrities-in-the-Hamptons-doing-green-things news, Jerry Seinfeld recently scored a major victory when the East Hampton Town Architectural Review Board gave him the go-ahead to install a 25-kW solar system on his property.