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Mar 23, 2016 11:21 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Supervisor Sharpens Affordable Housing Proposal, Studying Feasibility

The Southampton Town Board at its work session Thursday, March 17. ALYSSA MELILLO
Mar 23, 2016 11:21 AM

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman has sharpened the details of an idea for creating more affordable housing opportunities, and he is currently exploring whether it will be feasible.

As he announced in January, when he was sworn in as supervisor, Mr. Schneiderman’s housing initiative would involve enlisting owners of homes of about 2,000 square feet or larger that have only one or two occupants to create accessory apartments.

At a Town Board work session last Thursday, March 17, Mr. Schneiderman said he was working with Michael DeSario, the chairman of several affordable housing project boards in East Hampton Town, on a proposal that would outline how Southampton Town might identify homes where apartments could be created. Some of that data, for example, could be collected by analyzing who receives mail at each household, as well as looking at STAR property tax exemptions, the supervisor said.

If the concept is determined to be feasible, the goal would be to identify by the end of the year 25 units that the town could move forward with in 2017.

“I do believe there are people who will want to participate in this program, so I’m really hoping I can put the pieces together,” Mr. Schneiderman said earlier this week. “If this produces 25 units and there’s no complaints, nobody even knows where they are, then we have a successful model.”

Mr. Schneiderman said that the housing units would be geared toward people who work in town, such as nurses, schoolteachers and emergency responders, who may otherwise have a difficult time finding a place to live that is not “substandard” or “illegal.” Providing such housing would, in the long run, reduce traffic, decrease the number of overcrowded and illegal rentals, and provide revenue for new landlords, the supervisor said.

“To me, that strengthens the fabric of a community,” he said. “I just want to see if we can come up with a new model to add to our existing efforts that would do a better job in responding to what, I think, is a critical community need.”

At the work session, Town Councilman John Bouvier agreed. “We’re way under-served, housing-wise,” he said. “I think we should have the conversation—I think we should have it sooner rather than later.”

Town May Get Dock

Southampton Town officials want Suffolk County to turn over ownership of the Shinnecock commercial fishing dock to the town.

While many believe the dock, located on Dune Road in Hampton Bays, is owned and operated by Southampton Town, it is technically owned by the county. And although both municipalities are supposed to share the capital costs, the town has been laying out the money for repairs and upkeep.

At the Town Board’s work session March 17, Mr. Schneiderman said he has been speaking with county officials who are “100-percent on board” with transferring ownership of the dock, as well as the nearby beachfront property, over to the town.

The supervisor compared the situation to that of Long Wharf in Sag Harbor, which the county once owned, but gave to the village in 2012—a bill Mr. Schneiderman had supported as a county legislator.

“The Shinnecock commercial dock is really critical to the town,” the supervisor said. “They seem that they are absolutely willing to give it to us. Prior to taking it, I would like to develop a plan to sustain the facility without [using] the taxpayers.”

That plan involves possibly creating a recreation area on the beach as a way to generate revenue that could help with covering the costs of repairs to the dock. In addition to paying for capital costs, the town already collects the docking fees paid by commercial fishermen who keep their boats there.

Mr. Schneiderman said the dock is in good condition now, but will require work down the road, although he could not provide an estimated cost. “It does require a capital expense,” he said.

Sewer System Talks

Southampton Town officials may forge an agreement with the Town of Riverhead to reserve capacity in Riverhead’s wastewater treatment plant—a move that could help usher in new development in Riverside at a much faster pace.

Mr. Schneiderman said that after discussions with Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter, the Southampton Town Board would simply have to pass a resolution requesting that Riverhead reserve capacity in its wastewater treatment plant for future development projects in Riverside. Mr. Schneiderman said Riverhead was willing to allot up to 30,000 gallons of wastewater per day.

The effort is part of ongoing revitalization endeavors for Riverside that have been stalled as town officials decide how to solidify plans for a proposed sewer district—and a sewer system—that could accommodate new development there.

“That would allow for an early phase of development around the [traffic] circle and across [from] the McDonald’s, with cafes and stores and things the community has embraced,” Mr. Schneiderman said of an agreement with Riverhead Town. “I don’t have a problem with [Riverside] becoming part of the Riverhead sewer district.”

Town Authorizes Vehicle Purchases

The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday night authorized the purchase of 10 vehicles for several town departments.

The purchases are part of the Department of Municipal Works’ ongoing fleet vehicle rotation, where vehicles that are more than 10 years old are replaced. The Municipal Works Department’s 2016 capital budget allocates $330,000 for that purpose.

The Town Board authorized the following purchases: a 2016 Chevrolet Equinox for the tax assessor’s office, at a cost of $21,413; two 2016 Ford F-250s, at $29,029 each, for the Town Trustees and Parks Department; a 2016 Ford F-150 for the Town Trustees, at $28,647; two 2016 Ford F-150s, including lights and sirens, for Code Enforcement, at a total of $64,846; two 2016 Ford Transit Connect vans, at $18,949 each, for Facilities Management and Human Services; and two 2016 Ford Transit Connect vans for Animal Control, at a total of $42,051.

The Town Board withdrew a resolution, at Mr. Schneiderman’s request, to purchase a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee that would have been used by the supervisor.

Taxi Law On Hold

Southampton Town Councilman Stan Glinka on Tuesday asked that the Town Board hold off on approving proposed regulations that would subject livery drivers and other vehicles-for-hire to the same regulations as taxicab drivers.

Citing ongoing conversations with officials from the mobile app company Uber, Mr. Glinka opted to keep the public hearing on the proposed regulations open until the Town Board’s meeting on Tuesday, April 12, at 1 p.m.

Mr. Glinka said that during a recent meeting with Uber officials, the company agreed to enable the town to monitor its drivers here, and that those drivers would be prohibited from picking up customers on the spot, such as at a train station or a club.

Comfort Station At Park

As Southampton Town officials mull the idea of constructing a comfort station at the maritime park on Newtown Road in Hampton Bays, a program at Stony Brook University could potentially help reduce the cost.

At the March 17 Town Board work session, Mr. Schneiderman said the State Center for Water Quality Technology, a research center based at Stony Brook University, was looking for a municipal property where it could test out an advanced wastewater treatment center at no cost to the town.

Mr. Schneiderman had received a call from Jennifer Garvey, the center’s associate director and former deputy chief of staff for former Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who recommended that particular property, which is also where the town’s Parks Department office is located.

“If we’re going to do a comfort station at this property, I figured this could be the best candidate,” Mr. Schneiderman said, adding that it could save the town between $20,000 and $30,000, as it would not be required to install a septic system for the bathrooms on its own. “In an area like that, where you’re close to the canal and Shinnecock Bay, I think it would be perfect.”

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I have a 900 square foot home next to me. The landlord gets an astronomical $2500 a month because he illegally overcrowds his house ( two families illegal rooms in basement) Two houses down the landlord was renting a single family residence to six families for $6000. They paid by the room. If you want to create more affordable housing enforce ((GASP!) existing housing codes and the landlords will be forced to rent to couples or (ONE) family at fair market value. Voila!
By jams (125), hampton bays on Mar 24, 16 1:41 PM
"Some of that data, for example, could be collected by analyzing who receives mail at each household." Really ? Is that legal?
Adding more names to the mailing lists used for political advertisements...?
By Lion (258), southampton on Mar 25, 16 7:28 AM
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