Sag Harbor Embarks on First Affordable Housing Project

Posted on 18 March 2010

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Sag Harbor Village recently inked a deal with Suffolk County to develop affordable housing at a Hempstead Street property, likely using both the Long Island Housing Partnership and the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust to administer and develop the housing, according to village Mayor Brian Gilbride.

Earlier this month, the village was contacted by Suffolk County’s Director of Affordable Housing Jill Rosen Nikoloff, offering to give Sag Harbor 20 Hempstead Street on the East Hampton side of the village, if the village was committed to developing affordable housing on the site.

“We are pleased to work with the village on this site in turning a dilapidated facility into something everyone can appreciate,” said Dan Aug, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy’s press secretary, adding in Levy’s tenure the county has transferred some 500 parcels to other municipalities for workforce housing.

According to Nikoloff’s letter, once developed, the housing will need to be sold or rented to families whose income does not exceed 80 percent of the HUD established median income limits for Suffolk County. Also keeping with Suffolk County Workforce Housing regulations, the development must be completed in the next three years or the property will once again belong to Suffolk County.

According to Gilbride, the house on Hempstead Street has been rundown for several years, and the county seized it after taxes were not paid.

He said in all likelihood, the home will be demolished and rebuilt with the aid of the Long Island Housing Partnership and the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust, although Gilbride added formal plans had yet to be drawn up. He did note it is the village’s hope the property will be developed with an accessory apartment on site, which would make the home even more affordable for the lucky tenant who wins it in a lottery once the home is complete.

Gilbride said he would like to see the housing open to members of either the Sag Harbor fire or school district who fall into the appropriate income bracket and meet criteria for a mortgage. He would also like to see the housing earmarked for volunteers.

The development will be the first affordable housing project since residents filled the Municipal Building two years ago during the review of a luxury condominium project at the former Bulova Watchcase Factory, calling for affordable housing within that project. The project sponsors, Sag Development Partners, eventually said it would instead give the newly created Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust $2.57 million to develop housing off-site.

That development project stalled in the midst of a nationwide economic downturn, leaving the trust without the funding to kick off an affordable housing initiative in Sag Harbor. However, Sag Harbor village officials did draft inclusionary zoning standards in its new code, requiring any project with more than five units include 20 percent affordable housing. Similar to a state law enacted in 2009, the village does allow project sponsors to instead pay into the housing trust, which would create workforce housing or provide low interest loans and down payments in the Sag Harbor School District.

On Monday, former Mayor Greg Ferraris, who now serves on the board of directors of the trust along with attorney Denise Schoen and Stacey Pennebaker, said the trust, a not-for-profit entity, is ready to move forward, but has been faced with a lack of funding.

“If the village and the county are interested in working with us we would be more than happy to assist them in facilitating affordable housing,” said Ferraris.

On the village board level, trustees Tiffany Scarlato and Robby Stein have been working towards amending Sag Harbor’s accessory apartment law to allow residents with cottages and other detached structures the ability to legalize existing apartments. Currently, the law only allows the legalization of attached apartments. Only one resident has come forward, and been approved, for an accessory apartment since the legislation was enacted last year.

While Stein and Scarlato have yet to formally present anything to fellow trustees, this week, Scarlato said they are considering giving amnesty to homeowners with existing detached accessory apartments, but would require planning board approval, a public hearing and an affidavit showing the space has been used as a residence, without complaint, for 10 years.

“I would like to see some kind of requirement that shows this has not been disturbing a neighborhood,” said Scarlato on Monday.

In conjunction with any changes to the accessory apartment law, Scarlato said the village’s code enforcement department has begun to crack down on illegal apartments.

“This is not a way for us to make money,” she stressed. “All we want to do is make sure these units are legal and safe. We are trying to do the right thing, and we just need to get a handle on this situation.”

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4 Responses to “Sag Harbor Embarks on First Affordable Housing Project”

  1. Penny G says:

    This must be a joke. The village gets a gift and now they are all patting themselfs on the back. Yes lets talk about what a great job we did getting the watch case factory approved. Shame again on everyone who fought against it and killed the golden goose! Now we still have a rotting building in the heart of our village, no workforce housing and a villige of idiots who have learned nothing. What hsppened to the family that was so poor they couln’t pay thier taxes? This project will probably not happen either because the county has only given us three years to build it and it may take that long just to get it approved and get a building permit. Has anyone mentioned how backwards village hall is? Save Sag Harbor my ???

  2. GENE says:

    We have to start somewhere and better late (and small) than never. Did the people who could not pay their taxes get kicked out? That would be sad. Maybe they should get the chance to move back in.

  3. Great Looking Site… Good Job !

  4. Anonymous says:

    I really hope someone from this family is given the opportunity to buy back this formerly gorgeous home. I know the person who has neglected this property, and am beyond disappointed in knowing that they would do this to their pristine grandparents home. Someone in their family has to try to fight for all of Sag Harbor to not allow affordable housing to be put here. Good Luck to the family, make your grandparents proud!

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