Shelter Island OKs Community Housing Fund Referendum

Southampton Town is accepting applications for 65 affordable housing rentals, 37 of which will be located at Speonk Commons in Speonk and 28 at Sandy Hollow Cove in Southampton which the community housing fund could help
Southampton Town is accepting applications for 65 affordable housing rentals, 37 of which will be located at Speonk Commons in Speonk and 28 at Sandy Hollow Cove in Southampton.

In a dramatic come-from-behind victory, Shelter Island voters approved a referendum that creates a tax to help fund new affordable housing projects, reversing a lead that opponents held in early election returns.

Suffolk County ballot proposition No. 3, as the Peconic Bay Region Community Housing Fund (CHF) question before voters on Election Day was known, passed by a 15-vote margin with 934 in favor and 919 opposed, county board of elections officials told Dan’s Papers. Opponents led by eight votes on election night. The results were certified on December 2 after the agency completed counting all the paper ballots in the election.

“Obviously, the town board is happy that the process was followed through and the result is what we were hoping for,” Shelter Island Town Supervisor Gerard F. Siller said. “Shelter Island was the only East End Town with an active group opposed to the fund. This group was well funded and held an ad campaign that was based on falsehoods. Thankfully, the majority saw through this campaign and supported the proposition.”

The proposition also passed in the towns of East Hampton, Southampton and Southold, but Riverhead declined to put it up for a vote. It was one of three propositions on ballots. The other two — one authorizing New York State to borrow $4.2 billion to replenish its environmental fund and the other limiting the county executive and county legislators to 12 years in office — also passed.

The CHF enacts a 0.5% real estate transfer tax on property sales. The idea is modeled after the Community Preservation Fund, which created a 2% real estate tax 20 years ago that enables local governments to preserve open space.

“I am heartened that in all four towns which sought to create Community Housing Funds, the voters gave approval,” said Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. (D-Sag Harbor). “Thoughtful implementation is imperative if the CHF is to enjoy the same success as the CPF.”

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