The Southampton Town Board has put forth an inadequate and incomplete affordable housing plan. While this one-size-fits-all plan lacks any real substance, it can be used as a tool to urbanize hamlets, such as Hampton Bays, with the development of dense affordable housing.
With the approval of this plan, the Town Board will have broad, unbridled discretion to administer funds from a new real estate transfer tax to develop affordable housing and provide some other housing subsidies. Some may trust the Town Board to make objective, fair and equitable decisions based on the facts, truth and law — but I am not one of them, based on the history of this town administration.
Some say that this will benefit the local residents. There is no guarantee that local residents will benefit. The only people guaranteed to benefit are the developers who are looking to build high-density housing at the expense of the existing communities. Our Town Board seems more than happy to accommodate these developers for reasons I can only surmise.
The Town Board cannot require the incorporated villages to develop affordable housing. Without corresponding housing plans in the incorporated villages, hamlets such as Hampton Bays, which is the densest hamlet, with the highest school tax rate in the Town of Southampton, will bear the burden for the dense affordable housing. The Town Board has already resurrected the Hampton Bays Downtown Overlay District to provide zoning changes to accommodate hundreds of new apartments in the downtown business district.
The Town Board has disingenuously represented that this plan has community support and input. During the height of the pandemic two years ago, the Town Board released a farce of a community online survey and held virtual meetings. A total of 30 residents out of 14,000 residents participated in the Hampton Bays virtual meeting. No additional discussions were held until the current public hearings.
I find this completely disgraceful when this plan may forever change the Town of Southampton.
The Town Board needs to go back to the drawing board and create a well-defined plan for each hamlet with its unique wants and needs weighed against its infrastructure constraints.
There is a second public hearing on June 28 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall. I strongly urge residents to come to the Town Board meeting and let the Town Board know to put the brakes on the plan and go back to the drawing board.
If you are unable to attend the meeting, you can write or email the Southampton Town clerk for the public record. You can review the plan on the town website.
One fine body…