The Express News Group devoted a section last week to the affordable housing crisis — an important subject. But I wish they would devote as much space to the crisis of overdevelopment that the western hamlets of Southampton Town are now experiencing.
Whether it is single-family homes, senior housing or affordable units, taken together, the Westhampton area, where I live, is being set up for overdevelopment on a gross scale.
The amount of building in recent years has skyrocketed and now six new development projects, all within a few miles of my home, are on the drawing board. The names of the projects, number of units and distance from my home are as follows:
• The Preserve at South Country, South Country Road, 104 affordable units, 0.2 miles.
• The Townes at Ketchaponack, Rogers Avenue, 52 units (44, plus eight affordable), 1.3 miles.
• 55 Old Riverhead Road LLC, Old Riverhead Road, 16 senior townhouse units, 1.5 miles.
• Patio Gardens, Montauk Highway and Depot Road, 48 units, 1.6 miles.
• Country Pointe by Beechwood, Depot Road, 22 single-family homes, 1.6 miles.
• The Hills, Bay Avenue, 130 units (118 seasonal plus 12 affordable), four miles. (The Hills claim that because the seasonal units are not year-round, they will have little impact on the traffic. That is laughable.)
The total number of units is 372. Assume two people with two cars in each unit — that’s 744 people and 744 cars.
Such an explosion in population will negatively impact our roads, main streets, public beaches, emergency services and the environment. And how many children from the non-seasonal and non-senior units does this mean for the school district? The school is going to be stuck with a lot of bad “payments in lieu of taxes,” and, ultimately, taxpayers will have to pay the balance.
Different jurisdictions are debating these projects; i.e., the Westhampton Beach Village Board and the Southampton Town Board. But it is imperative that the impact from the total amount of development be examined in its entirety, whether market-based, senior living, seasonal or affordable housing.
As to affordable housing units, there needs to be equitable distribution throughout the East End rather than the western hamlets absorbing the bulk of the multifamily affordable units.
The court last fall threw out a lawsuit brought against The Hills on the issue of the environment, because the judge said the environmental groups had no standing. Do we, the residents, have standing to protest the totality of all these units being built within a few miles of each other, all at the same time?
Decisions on these projects are happening right now. We need to wake up and start paying attention before it’s too late.
One fine body…