A holistic approach to housing

A roughly 12-acre parcel (outlined in red) at 395 Pantigo Road, acquired by East Hampton Town in 2020, could accommodate 12 to 16 homes, with five acres reserved for open space.

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With summer approaching, and with it a steep rise in rents for extremely scarce housing in East Hampton Town, affordable housing was on the agenda for Tuesday’s city council meeting.

The average price of a house in the city has increased by 215% since 1999, compared to the increase in median family income (43%), according to one of several presentations on Tuesday. It is the most expensive, both in absolute terms and relative to median income, of all the townships in the East End.

“There are very few options for people to stay in the community,” supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said, citing the scarcity of year-round rental housing. After announcing an All Hands on Housing initiative in early 2022, each board member reported on their progress on specific initiatives aimed at providing affordable rental and ownership options to those who live or work in the area. city.

Councilor David Lys provided an update on 395 Pantigo Road, a 12-acre parcel acquired in 2020 with both Community Preservation Fund money and general funds. Seven acres will be dedicated to housing and five to open space. Individual houses, on the southern part of the property, will be offered for sale. The council added an affordable housing overlay zoning designation to the site in March and updated the code to allow four affordable homes per acre, up from two, matching Suffolk County’s affordable housing code. An archaeological study was also carried out and a consultant assisted in the mapping and design of the wastewater management.

Four design layouts were presented showing a yield of 12 to 16 houses, and the advantages and disadvantages of each were discussed. The housing lots will be approximately one quarter acre. “We wanted to maximize the number of units while staying within required parameters,” such as proper buffering of neighboring properties and Pantigo Road, said Eric Schantz, the city’s assistant planning director. “We wanted to make a housing estate that had a sense of community.”

Tom Ruhle, director of the city’s office of housing and community development, recommended that homes in the development be kept at 1,800 square feet.

The council will have to decide on the design of the site, the number of houses, the vernacular of construction and the approved contractors. “There will be a lot of happy families very soon,” Mr. Lys said.

Councilor Kathee Burke-Gonzalez provided an update on property acquired by the city at 776 and 780 Route 114 in the Wainscott School District, just outside the village of Sag Harbor, consisting of two lots totaling approximately 6.5 acres. The Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust owns the two-acre parcel at 782 Route 114, and the plan is to develop the entire 8.5 acres. Earlier this year, the city voted to add an affordable housing overlay zoning designation to all three properties.

The plan here is for 50 to 60 modular apartments, mostly one-bedroom units, for middle-income people who live and work in the city, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said. It will be modeled after the 26 Springs-Fireplace apartments in East Hampton, Ruhle said, with the city securing all approvals and a contractor. The city and the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust will provide the land, he said, and the city will fund the construction and, when complete, turn the development over to the East Hampton Housing Authority, which will oversee it.

Katy Casey, director of the Housing Authority, told council that 50 units of one-, two- and three-bedroom rental apartments for middle- and low-income residents will be built at 286 and 290 Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton. There will be five two-story buildings, she said, and current analysis has determined that two-bedroom units are most needed.

Councilor Cate Rogers reported on her continued search from west to east for city-owned properties that could be dedicated to affordable housing. There are around 1,800 vacant properties in the city, including those owned by private owners, she said, describing “needlework in a haystack”. A list has been created of all vacant city-owned properties, excluding those purchased for open space or recreational opportunities, she said, and to date 251 have been inventoried and classified. . On Tuesday, eight properties of one acre or more were identified as potential sites for community housing. “If we have properties, we could put a unit on it,” she said, “I think it’s worth it.” It invites private owners interested in subdividing and selling to the city to contact it.

Mr. Van Scoyoc spoke about the Peconic Bay Region Community Housing Act, which allows the five East End towns to establish community housing funds with the proceeds of a 0.5% real estate transfer tax, which s would add 2% to the transfer. tax for the community preservation fund. If voters approve the transfer tax in a referendum on the November ballot, the city will have “perhaps the most important tool” to deal with the affordable housing shortage, he said. last week.

In order to act upon the authority conferred by the Peconic Bay Area Community Housing Act, each city must first develop its own enabling legislation. Jeremy Samuelson, the city’s planning director, said to meet filing deadlines, council would have to consider a finalized plan for its housing fund early next month, with public comments in June and July and a hearing public and an adoption in July. If voters approve the fund, it will be operational in January 2023, 60 days after Election Day.

Buyers, except first-time home buyers, would pay the tax, with the first $400,000 exempt up to purchases of $2 million. The money could be used for down payment assistance, land acquisition, project design and development, secondary suites, rehabilitation loans and grants, rehabilitation or improvement of existing municipal housing , affordable housing easements and housing advice.

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