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Jan 23, 2019 10:19 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Approves Accessory Apartment Law Modifications That Benefit Smaller Lots

Southampton Town Board members approved modifications to the accessory apartment law on Tuesday night. GREG WEHNER
Jan 23, 2019 11:41 AM

New rules aimed at creating more affordable housing in the Town of Southampton—primarily east of the Shinnecock Canal—in the form of accessory apartments were approved by Town Board members on Tuesday.

The revised rules allow owners of lots as small as a half acre in size to have and rent out an accessory apartment, instead of the minimum three-quarters of an acre lot under the current law.

If a homeowner wants to create an accessory apartment on the smaller-sized lots, which would increase density, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he was hoping to formulate a plan for that as well.

While the new rules may have loosened the regulations, they also allow the town to dictate how much rent homeowners can charge so the apartments remain affordable for those who work in the town.

According to the legislation, applications to obtain rental permits for accessory apartments must contain proof that the tenant meets income limitations for low- to moderate-income or middle income, set by the town code.

The rules also stipulate that the owners are also required to provide proof that the rent does not exceed the annual fair market rent, or FMR, for Suffolk County, which is set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In 2019, HUD set the FMR for a one-bedroom apartment at $1,548 and $1,907 for a two-bedroom apartment.

The less restrictive rules, Mr. Schneiderman explained, will affect only areas with a population of less than 500 people per square mile—so people who live in areas like Hampton Bays, East Quogue and Riverside would not be able to take advantage of the new rules.

“More expensive areas would qualify,” he said. “That’s where we really need it.”

Mr. Schneiderman and the other Town Board members pushed for changes to the accessory apartment rules because they could offer places for the everyday worker to live in the community in which they work—these could be people who work at the hospital or Town Hall, or serve in a fire department or an ambulance corps, for example.

Mr. Schneiderman has said people are being priced out of the area and commute from communities to the west, increasing the amount of traffic that filters into the area on either County Road 39 or Montauk Highway.

Providing more opportunities for affordable housing in the more expensive areas of the town—east of the Shinnecock Canal—could contribute to lessening traffic concerns, he explained.

Mr. Schneiderman said a single parent with two kids could benefit from the new law if, for example, they have a four-bedroom home and want to set up an apartment to rent using two of the bedrooms. The additional $1,907 the owner brings in from the rental could help with expenses and allow him or her to stay in the community.

He added that utilities can be charged on top of the regulated rent, so the homeowner is not stuck with the burden of additional costs.

If a person obtains an accessory apartment permit from the Building Department, an inspection of the property will take place to ensure it is properly set up to function as an apartment. If at any point the homeowner stops offering the apartment at an affordable rate or begins offering it as a summer rental, Mr. Schneiderman said they would be required to forfeit the right to rent out the apartment.

Town Board members voted unanimously to approve the new rules.

“I fully support this bill,” Town Board member Tommy John Schiavoni said on Tuesday. “It’s a way for young people to stay in the area.”

Town Board member Christine Scalera said she had concerns when the board started looking into allowing the additional density on smaller lots, and still has some questions about enforcing the rules.

Mr. Schneiderman said he and the board wrestled to come up with a solution for the past three years, and that he was happy with the outcome.

“I don’t think this will solve all of our affordable housing,” he said. “I think it’s a drop in the bucket.”

Mr. Schneiderman noted that if the town can get 10 additional units per year for people in the workforce to live in the town, ultimately, after 10 years, there will be 100 new units.

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This is to help house illegal workers.
By Win sky (57), Southampton on Jan 23, 19 5:38 PM
2 members liked this comment
This is a good beginning to what is a horrible problem out here now. Finding anything less than $2k per month is near impossible, so this new law may start helping some who need it. Bravo Town!
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Jan 23, 19 6:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
So the struggling homeowners west of the canal get screwed again. Thanks jay
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jan 24, 19 5:33 AM
CaptainSig, Don't look a gift-horse in the mouth. Accessory apartments are a necessary thing, however balance is so very important. This is why the existing law is based on a 3/4 parcel along with other stipulations. The proposal is NOT designed to help the homeowner, it's plan is to assist renters. There are social reasons for sure.. maintaining a workforce and even some economic stability is the target. The downside of course is always the impact on schools. Every additional child has an ...more
By Greg Celi, EQVEC (8), East Quogue on Jan 24, 19 2:06 PM
Anyone wanna live in my gross shed? Just push the lawnmower and tools to the side, the last tenants in the shed were field mice : /
By Aeshtron (410), Southampton on Jan 25, 19 8:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
Renovate the shed an rent it out. Think Tiny house! You’ll give a local 20 or 30something the opportunity to move outta their parents house. And some extra money in ur pocket :)
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jan 28, 19 7:29 AM
1 member liked this comment
I like the idea of turning my shed into an apartment and my property is just big enough to qualify under the revised rules. A few obstacles come to mind.
Where would I keep my landscaping tools (I'm a thrifty schlub who does all their own yard work and my garage is packed with treasure)?
Wouldn't it be quite expensive to run a septic line(maybe a new septic ring), electric and heating out to the shed? Not to mention the cost of turning a gross space into something fit for human habitation. ...more
By Aeshtron (410), Southampton on Jan 29, 19 10:28 AM
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