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Nov 18, 2009 1:37 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village closes hearing on Bailey Road workforce housing project

Nov 18, 2009 1:37 PM

Bailey Road residents once again railed against an affordable housing project proposed on their street at the Southampton Village Board meeting last week, arguing that the project doesn’t make good planning sense.

At the meeting on Thursday, November 12, Southampton Village Attorney Richard DePetris presented an environmental assessment of the project completed by Charles Voorhis of the environmental planning firm Nelson, Pope & Voorhis in Melville. The study states that the project will cause a change in the existing community, because it will increase density on the street. The village is planning to change the zoning of the approximately 1.7-acre parcel so that it can be subdivided into three lots, with a house built on each.

Density is the main issue the Bailey Road residents have been complaining about.

The Village Board decided to close the public hearing on the zoning change Thursday, but is allowing additional written comment on the report until late November and will most likely discuss it again at the work session on November 24.

At the meeting, Southampton attorney John Bennett said that the village would be going against its own precedent if it goes through with the zone change. An application for a two-lot subdivision on a 25-foot-wide road was denied a few years ago, Mr. Bennett explained. Allowing a three-lot subdivision to be constructed on a 16-foot-wide road would be “arbitrary and capricious,” he continued, using terms often used by courts to overturn municipal decisions. He argued that village codes and laws should not be ignored just because the project is affordable.

Village officials, however, emphasized that Suffolk County mandates that the property, which it gave to the village in 2002, must be built upon, and soon—otherwise, the county will take the land back and find a non-profit organization to build the housing.

Mr. Bennett and the board also clashed over whether the development rights on the land could be purchased. Mr. Bennett had said that Bailey Road residents could buy the land from the village, which could then use the money to build affordable housing elsewhere.

Patrick “Skip” Heaney, the Suffolk County Commissioner of Economic Development and Workforce Housing, labeled the move Mr. Bennett suggested “an 11th-hour right turn” and emphasized that the village has had the deadline for building affordable housing at the site extended twice since 2002. He said that the county has not yet set a new deadline for the project, but he said the county will work with the village as long as it is making an earnest effort on the property.

Mr. DePetris said during the meeting that it would take a vote of the County Legislature to allow the purchase of development rights. Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley said on Monday night that he was open to exploring that option. “If there’s an opportunity out there where we can trade the land for a larger piece where we could get more housing on it, then it’s a win-win for everyone,” Mr. Epley said.

Amy Plum, a resident of Bailey Road who has worked in the mortgage industry, said that it would be very difficult for the village to find someone who will be eligible for the homes. She explained that she worked out the numbers using federal regulations on affordable housing and figured that a family living in one of the homes could, at most, make $73,000 per year.

“The income restrictions are very strict,” Ms. Plum said. “It will be hard to find a borrower to fit into that house.”

B

uilding Fees

In other business last week, to help pay for a new computerized planning system, the village unofficially approved increasing the fees that developers, builders, and homeowners have to pay when moving applications through the building department.

Southampton Village Building Inspector Jon Foster said Thursday night that the department will increase building permit fees from 1 percent to 1.25 percent.

For example, according to a document from Southampton Village, for a 4,000-square-foot home appraised to cost $400 per square foot to build—a total cost of $1.6 million—the building permit fee under the existing system is $16,000. Once the fee increases to 1.25 percent, the building permit for the same home will cost $20,000.

The Village Board will most likely vote the change into effect at its work session on November 24, Mr. Epley said.

Mr. Foster said that these fee increases will cover a portion of the $330,000 total cost of the extensive data program that will be used by the building, planning and architectural review departments, as well as for the tax receiver’s office, and would also be available for public use. A portion of the cost will also be paid with a bond, village administrator Stephen Funsch has said.

General Code, a company in Rochester, will install the software and scan the documents.

Brady Appointed

The Village Board also appointed Brian Brady to fill Nick Palumbo’s spot on the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review.

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I'm not sure I understand Ms. Plum's point about the income requirements. Does she mean it would be hard to find someone in Southampton who makes less than $73,000? That is a very typical salary for a skilled blue collar worker out here; and some local families live here on less. But, perhaps she means that with a maximum salary of $73,000 the price of the home, even subsidized, would be out of reach for the target population. If the latter is her point, it is a good case for moving the workforce ...more
By fishcove (36), southampton on Nov 23, 09 10:12 PM