Affordable Apartment Law Expansion Moves to Public Hearing

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A proposed change to reduce the minimum lot area required to build a detached affordable apartment in the Town of East Hampton will be introduced for public hearing in June, town board members announced at a work session at the Montauk Firehouse on Tuesday morning.

Councilman David Lys, who has been working on the code change with Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, said if adopted, reducing the minimum lot area for a detached affordable apartment from 40,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet would allow an additional 1,457 property owners the ability to build an apartment, although he noted that under current town code only 20 of the structures can be built in any one school district with a maximum of 100 allowed throughout the town.

“That is our backstop,” said Mr. Lys. “We are just trying to allow more homeowners to take advantage of this.”

According to Mr. Lys, just three detached affordable apartments have been built since 2016.

“I don’t think by decreasing the minimum lot area from 40,000 to 30,000 will change the character of the communities we are trying to help here,” said Mr. Lys. “I also think it will help our businesses or seniors or youth who are trying to live here.”

The ability for town residents to build a detached affordable apartment — one not physically connected to a primary residence — was enacted by the town in 2016. The units must be between 300 and 600 square-feet and property owners, who have to live in the primary residence, must rent to a year-round resident of East Hampton Town at a rate not to exceed affordable housing unit standards set forth by the town.

Construction of the unit must also comply with county and town requirements for the installation of a low-nitrogen septic system if the addition triggers either of those laws, which is based in the county on the number and size of bedrooms in a residence and in the town by any expansion that increases the gross floor area of a residence or its value by 50 percent.

The code change has the support of the town’s Community Housing Opportunity Fund Committee. Tom Rhule, the Director of Housing and Community Development, also voiced his support for the code change during Tuesday’s meeting.

“Every time the board enacts legislation we try and follow it along and I think this change, albeit one-word, will go towards making the underlying goal more effective,” said Mr. Rhule.

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