The Noyac and Sag Harbor housing forum.
Southampton Town’s updated housing plan will go beyond addressing the need for affordable housing and will determine all types of housing stock that will best serve the town’s future, according to officials seeking community input on the plan.
The scope of the updated housing plan was explained Thursday, July 23, during the second in a series of nine virtual public forums on the topic. Each forum is designed for residents of different areas of the town to give their feedback and ask questions, and Thursday’s was for Noyac and unincorporated Sag Harbor.
Environmental and land use planning consultant Gina Martini of VHB, a White Plains-based consulting firm enlisted by the town, led the forum with assistance from Diana Weir, the town’s director of housing and community development.
“The housing plan is not just about affordable housing,” Ms. Martini said. “It is about all housing, which, of course, includes affordable housing. So we’re going to be looking at the housing needs. That includes affordability, it includes whether it’s senior housing, it includes looking at the type of housing.”
The housing plan will survey how many units of single-family homes, apartments, townhouses and other types of housing that the town has and recommend how many units of each type the town needs.
“The Town Board has been very aggressive in supporting affordable housing, but we have to make sure that the affordable housing that we build fits into the community, is something that is accepted by the community and they’re willing to take in each hamlet,” Ms. Weir said.
Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni, who joined the virtual meeting, spoke to the importance of a housing plan.
“This is a challenge that has faced Southampton Town for many, many, many years, and as far as good municipal planning goes, having an updated housing component of our comprehensive plan is really imperative to get various types of housing projects going in the town,” he said.
Mr. Schiavoni also noted that New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. is once again floating legislation in Albany that would allow the five East End towns to establish a transfer tax on homes sales to raise money for affordable housing initiatives.
Mr. Thiele’s legislation passed the State Legislature once before, but then Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed the bill over concerns about creating a new tax. The assemblyman, having discussed the idea in greater detail with the governor’s office, is hoping that he has assuaged Mr. Cuomo’s concerns so that the bill can be signed into law in the coming months.
“We want healthy communities, a variety of people and ages, and we need that going forward,” Mr. Schiavoni said.
Ms. Martini explained that the housing plan will identify the “age cohorts” in need of housing, and will look at the supply of both family affordable housing and senior affordable housing.
In answering a community member’s question on redevelopment, infrastructure and sustainability, she said all will be taken into account.
“When we look at potentially increasing housing in the town, we have to absolutely look at the infrastructure,” she confirmed, “Can the infrastructure handle it? Where can it handle it? To what extent can it handle it?”
Environmental constraints on development will also be considered, she added.
Ms. Martini said that while major sites for new development will be identified, the plan will also look for existing vacant or underutilized sites to redevelop. But it will be broad.
“I don’t think we intend to identify actual sites, because just to identify a site without a site plan or a developer — we really won’t go down that road with this,” she said.
“This is not saying we’re only going to build,” Ms. Weir said of the plan. “That’s not going to solve our problem. We have to use existing properties. We have to create, maybe, accessory apartments, which is not a huge density issue and can be spread throughout the town. So there are many ways to be able to create housing that doesn’t have to do with building new. Because, eventually, we will be running out of land, so we are very well aware of that.”
Upcoming forums are for Southampton, Shinnecock Hills and Tuckahoe was held Wednesday, July 29; Water Mill on Thursday, July 30; Westhampton, Speonk, Remsenburg, Eastport and Quiogue on Tuesday, August 4; Bridgehampton and Sagaponack on Thursday, August 6; East Quogue on Tuesday, August 11; Flanders, Riverside and Northampton on Thursday, August 13, and Hampton Bays on Tuesday, August 18. Every forum has a 7 p.m. start time.
To join a forum live, visit southamptontownny.gov/publicforums. The forums can be rewatched via SeaTv Southampton on YouTube.
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