Hamptons.com, March 7, 2008

Developer, EH Town Discuss Ways to Keep Project in Workforce Hands

By Peter Neely

East Hampton - Reviewing an extensive site plan for the first ever private affordable housing development in the town of East Hampton, the planning board this week appeared enthused with the application, though concerned with the density of the project, the lack of parking, and the need for affordable housing to stay affordable.

Echoing the planning department's assessment of the project as an "intense and cluttered development," the planning board softened their criticisms with nods of appreciation for much-needed workforce housing at its meeting on Wednesday, March 7.

The proposed development, submitted by Ron Webb to the Planning Department on Jan. 30, 2008, will comprise 57 residential units of workforce housing on 8.95 acres of property, allowing each house an 800 square foot footprint. The property for the proposed development is bordered by Oak View Highway to the south, Middle Highway to the east, and beyond a swath of woods and homes, Three Mile Harbor Road to the west.

The board expressed concern that based on 57 units, 114 parking spaces have to be required under town code, while the plans only account for 68 spaces. Density was also cited as a concern, with board members expressing that the developer should consider multiple family dwellings, such as manor style homes, which appear as single family homes though contain multiple units. This approach, they stated, could reduce the clustered look and help to offer space for recreation area.

"I am concerned about the density of the project," Board member Peter Van Scoyoc stated. "There is not a lot of outdoor recreation space, and not enough adequate parking for the requirements of the code. Also, waste water treatment is a big item to look at in terms of how that will function."

"My most serious concern is that affordable housing remain affordable since this is the first proposal of its kind in East Hampton," board member Eileen Catalano offered. "I would ask for an iron-clad presentation on how that could be maintained as affordable housing throughout the years. I worry about upgrades and that these homes could be sold as second homes and lose the great value of affordable housing."

Laurie Wiltshire of Land Planning Services, which represents the local landowner proposing the development, Ronald "Bud" Webb of Ron Webb Realty, explained to the board that Webb has met with the town housing office and is hoping they will act as the oversight bureau for future sales of the homes, in order to ensure that they remain affordable and are offered to those who meet set requirements.

"The units will be owned by the unit owners, and the underlying land will be owned by the town or the county," she explained, addressing the concern of the board over the variables with ownership of the homes, though saying the details are yet to be ironed out with the County and the housing office. "Bud has been working with the models and has talked with the housing committee and the next submission will be in a more formal state," Wiltshire added.

Webb addressed the board on behalf of his project, explaining that since the proposal is relatively modular, it offers the possibility of single units or joined, manor-style homes. "I want asphalt roofs and shingles siding to keep with a rural feel," he contended. "I think individual units help that a lot."

Reiterating concerns over ensuring the units be privately owned rather than rented, Planning Board Chair Sylvia Overby suggested a clarification is needed from the property owner, as well as from the town, as to the practical application of the intention of the project.

"If this is not controlled we will really be in trouble," Overby asserted. "We may need some code changes because the code only talks about the initial sale price with affordable housing, not second sale price."

The board has requested additional information from the developer, and has been assured that the soon to be submitted site plan will include further details. There is no date yet set on the next review of the project.



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