In a unanimous decision January 28, the Southampton Town Board members approved an elect to consider allowing a developer to file a zone change at the Full Gospel Church to potentially make way for an affordable housing complex.
This move comes after the nonprofit Concern for Independent Living and the church at 130 Sebonac Road in Southampton submitted a petition to change the zoning from residential to multifamily this time last year. In tandem with a change-of-zone application, Concern for Independent Living is seeking a subdivision and density increase on the 5.25 acres to construct one and two-bedroom apartments inside six two-story buildings, each housing 10 units.
“I don’t have to make the case for the need for affordable rentals. I’ve said many times — we need them, and we need them particularly east of the Shinnecock canal,” Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said. “We have a serious lack of places where our workers can afford to live a decent life . . . not in a crowded basement or a trailer somewhere, but actually in a place to call home.”
But some are worried about the traffic on County Road 39, especially with Schneiderman saying the town board will not allow there to be any new entrances made off the main road, and none can be created through the Hillcrest or Summerfield subdivisions. The supervisor did tell the Concern for Independent Living executive director Ralph Fasano though that he could ask The Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing about sharing its fire exit.
“If they’re limited to County Road 39, it’s going to be a mess,” Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor said. “They’re saying a lot of things that aren’t true about how they can make it for locals and young people. They have to open it up to the whole state of New York. But as far as traffic, you’re going to need more than one way in and out of that place. That’s a real bad spot and if it all has to come in and out of County Road 39, it will make a bad situation worse.”
Councilwoman Julie Lofstad said she also heard of traffic concerns at citizens advisory committee meetings she’s attended.
“This is not approval of the project,” she said, reiterating the elect-to-consider is allowing Fasano to request a zoning change. “I think we need listen to the community and their very real concerns about the density and the traffic that will affect their very little area of this town.”
Concern for Independent Living manages 275 different sites, and has over 1300 rental units and 300 employees. The group’s Amityville location, a similar-style project, was rented to capacity within a month. The nonprofit also closed a deal in Port Jefferson Station.
This project, which Fasano estimates would cost $28 million, would be dependent on nine percent being funded by state low-income housing tax credits.
According to Neighborhood Scout, the per capita income in the Southampton/North Sea/Tuckahoe area in 2010 was $62,701, which equates to an annual income of $250,804 for a family of four, and the average property value is $1,541,563. There are currently 1326 homes and apartments and the average market rent is $2741 per month. But 36 one-bedroom apartments, according to Fasano, would be rented out of this potential new complex for $550 to $800 a month, and 24 two-bedroom units would rent for $1100 to $1200. Fifteen units would be put aside for veterans, who could choose special housing upgrades based on personal needs. Concern for Independent Living also helps service members find jobs in their communities.
“It’s gratifying for us to be able to provide this service,” Fasano said. “In all our projects, we try to develop housing that does not look like affordable housing. We like when people confuse us with luxury housing and condos. We find the land, get the funds to build, construct high-quality housing, and maintain it. We’re a soup-to-nuts agency.”
Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni said he would like to see the application, also saying it “satisfies a need.”
“I look forward to hearing what residents have to say,” he said. “I would like to hear community input, but I also believe the 15 percent allocation for veterans is a much-needed service for a community out here.”
The town board has overseen the change in the accessory apartments law to open the availability of rentals, and the construction and sellout of the 38 units at Speonk Commons and 28 at the Sandy Hollow Cove apartment complexes. Schneiderman said from his time spent working in the state legislature he knows much more is needed.
“We’re doing our best to create affordable housing and it’s still a drop in the bucket, and this will be a drop in the bucket too,” the supervisor said. “This is my neighborhood. This is my school district. And I’m happy to support this application moving forward. I appreciate that this is a nonprofit, not doing this for a personal gain, and also helps veterans who have served our country honorable. This is a way to give back.”
This version corrects that the approval was an elect to consider, not approval of the zone change at the Full Gospel Church in Southampton.