As the Town of Southampton solicits opinions on its housing program through a series of virtual forums [“Officials: Updated Southampton Housing Plan Will Go Beyond Affordable Housing,” 27east.com, July 24], I respectfully offer my thoughts.
There is a consensus that affordable housing is necessary. The question is: What is the best approach, and how much is too much? In Southampton, we have attempted to preserve open space and have invested in water quality initiatives. There appears to be a dichotomy between these efforts and constructing more housing.
The town supervisor should have detailed answers to the following concerns:
Are the seven villages exempt from the program? If so, the total impact will only fall on the unincorporated areas.
What are the financial consequences on our school districts in terms of taxes and facilities? More houses result in more students.
Often, politicians claim affordable housing will benefit local families, enabling their children and grandchildren to remain in their hometown. Given current laws, any program will be open to anyone in the nation, and the public should be made aware of this requirement.
How will water quality and availability be impacted by increased housing?
Is there any evidence that workforce housing will lessen the weekly trade parade? It appears that few, if any, contractors are moving their crews and materials on the commuter railroad connection, as promised.
The Town Board has a responsibility to balance the costs and benefits of any housing program. Sound public policy requires that all stakeholders participate in the process. Unfortunately, there is little mention of the role of the building trades in formulating a housing policy. Common sense would dictate that their knowledge is critical to a successful program. If one accepts the concept that real estate development falls within the town’s purview, then the private sector should be viewed as valued partners in policy decisions.
As the supervisor contemplates increased density, he must realize that his first responsibility is to the current residents, not the potential future beneficiaries of affordable housing.
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