The East Hampton Town Board is poised to approve a new zoning overlay district on two Three Mile Harbor Road properties after the proposal drew few objections at a public hearing last week.
The approval of an “affordable housing overlay” would effectively rezone the two properties, totaling about 14 acres, to allow dozens of apartments to be built instead of the handful of homes that could otherwise be constructed there.
The East Hampton Housing Authority has said it has plans to buy the property and develop it with up to 60 “workforce housing” apartments that it would rent out at below-market rates.
Only one neighbor of the would-be project called in to the Town Board meeting, which was broadcast on LTV at 11 a.m. last Thursday morning, October 1. Before the pandemic, the board’s twice-monthly meetings, when public hearings are held, would take place in Town Hall at 6:30 p.m.
Tim Fromm, a resident of Harbor View Avenue, expressed concerns about the impact of the affordable housing plan on residents of his street, where the homes abut the open swath of wooded lands that run between their homes and the Bistrian sand mine to the southeast.
He asked if the town would consider urging the housing authority to develop single-family homes that could be sold at below-market rates, similar to the Green Hollow Woods development. The development of single-family houses would, at least, be more in line with what those who purchased lots on Harbor View expected was possible across their rear property lines.
“When we bought this property a few years back, we did so with the understanding that the property behind us was zoned the way it was, and knowing that there could be very little in the way of houses built on it,” Mr. Fromm said.
The two parcels that the housing authority plans to purchase are separated from the rear of Harbor View Avenue’s homes by a third narrow property. Mr. Fromm suggested that the town purchase that property through the Community Preservation Fund and preserve it as open space to provide a buffer between the new development and the homes on Harbor View.
“That would be, at least, a minimum to make us feel better about our backyards being changed so dramatically with buildings back there that we didn’t think could ever be built,” Mr. Fromm said.
The only other comments offered to the board on the proposal were an applause for the housing proposal from Loring Bolger, and the suggestion from David Buda that the third property, which is owned by a different owner than the two the housing authority is in line to purchase, should be included in the high-density overlay and included in the purchase proposal.
“To not do so … means it could not be developed without substantial variances because of its narrow lot width, which is less than the minimum lot width required in the a3 zone,” Mr. Buda said of the third lot, nodding to an ulterior motive the town may have for not including the parcel. “Not including it might serve to benefit the town by lowering the monetary value of this parcel. However, that is not, needless to say, a valid purpose that may be considered when making zoning determinations.”
The public hearing on the zoning designation will remain open for written comments submitted to the Town Clerk for another two weeks.
Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc noted that if the development proposal proceeds, it will have to go through site plan review by the Planning Board, which will include another round of public hearings.