Tag Archive | "long island workforce housing act"

Workforce Housing Included

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Workforce Housing Bundled into New Code
By Marissa Maier

If the new Sag Harbor Village zoning code is enacted, the village’s comprehensive plan for affordable housing will also be implemented. The affordable housing measures found in the code will supersede the Long Island Workforce Housing Act (LIWHA), which was put into effect earlier this month.

The LIWHA and the new village zoning code share many of the same stipulations. Both pieces of legislation allow a developer to meet the affordable housing provision by providing on-site housing or allowing a developer to put money into an affordable housing trust.

However, the new zoning code stipulates that any developer seeking to build five or more units would receive a density bonus of 20 percent, compared to LIWHA’s 10 percent with all units created through the bonus being affordable workforce units.
By way of an example, if a developer was building a 10 unit project, he could either dedicate two of them to workforce housing, provide two additional workforce housing units off site, or opt to put a designated amount of money into the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust Fund. That amount is based on a formula that has yet to be finalized by the village.

According to Sag Harbor Village Mayor Greg Ferraris, these provisions will only be applicable for new construction or buildings where the use will change. Ferraris also believes that any renovation to the recently purchased Barons Cove Inn will not require the addition of affordable housing because it will remain a resort.

The Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust Fund has drawn criticism at previous board of trustee meetings, where some complained that the trust allowed developers to shirk their responsibility for creating affordable housing.

“In Sag Harbor, we are built out. We want to have flexibility and [The Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust Fund] provides that flexibility,” said Ferraris.
In the new code it is also recommended that all accessory apartments in the residential district and all new apartments in the Village Business district be rented to low to moderate-income residents. The code asks that preference also be given to ambulance corps volunteers, civil servants, and those who are employed by a local business.

An Accessory Apartment Review board will be created by the village to administer accessory apartment permits. The board will consist of three members, who will not be paid. Anyone currently operating an apartment will be given a year after the code is enacted to bring it up to building regulations.

“Our plan in the next year is to review how this apartment board worked. Were they able to monitor [these apartments]? We want to find out how this program works for the village,” said Sag Harbor Village Trustee Tiffany Scarlato.

The village is also proposing that owners of an approved accessory apartment in the residential district be granted a low interest loan from the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust Fund for improvements to the apartment.

Scarlato said, however, that the number of accessory apartments in the village will be capped at 50.

Overall the code is meant to address the issue of affordable housing for those who provide housing and those who need housing.

“When we drafted the housing plan, we tried to address the needs of our community specifically,” said Scarlato.

Bikers’ Uphill Climb

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A heated debate broke out at the end of Tuesday’s Sag Harbor Board of Trustees meeting over the safety of bike riding on Main Street. Trustee Ed Deyermond said a proposal to allow bike travel from the flag pole to Spring Street in the village is “an accident waiting to happen.” Deyermond remained firmly opposed to the idea, and more than half the board agrees with him.

Considering board opposition, it will be an uphill battle for Sag Harbor cyclists to bike down Main Street. During the meeting, Sinead Fitzgibbon, founder of the local bike advocacy group Spokes People, continued to defend her group’s position.
Fitzgibbon stated that cyclists and motorists have equal access to all public roads under a provision of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law. In Fitzgibbon’s opinion, the ordinance disallowing bike travel through Main Street is virtually unenforceable.
In an interview after the meeting, Fitzgibbon’s zeal for Main Street bike travel had tempered somewhat. She said her group will continue to explore the option of bike travel along Main Street, but will now focus on creating alternative routes for bike travel along other village streets.
“I totally understand where the board is coming from … I am happy to stir the pot [on this issue] but it is not how I want to deal with the village all the time. I look forward to working with the board,” said Fitzgibbon who believes a compromise with the trustees will be the best option for everyone.
“[The bike routes] have to work for everyone or they are not going to work at all,” she said.
According to Deyermond, a designated bike route along the roads surrounding Main Street is a practical solution in facilitating cyclist access to the village. During the meeting, Deyermond said an addition of a bike lane on Main Street was “out of the question” because of New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. When Deyermond was village mayor in 2003, he explored allowing bike travel along Main Street as part of his Traffic Calming Project. Representatives of the DOT told him Main Street was too narrow, and the diagonal parking was too problematic, for the installation of a bike lane.
Board member Tiffany Scarlato supports creating a designated village bike route, as long as it does not require additional pavement markings. She believes the village lacks the funds to pay for these markings. Scarlato also said cyclist access to the village has become an inflated issue.
“Southampton Village prohibits biking down Main Street,” said Scarlato who added that this didn’t seem to inconvenience Southampton Village residents. Scarlato believes Sag Harbor cyclists can hop off their bike when they reach the village and wheel their bikes through Main Street. She said she understood Fitzgibbon’s position, but the board has a responsibility to maintain road safety for all of the village residents.
The board urged Fitzgibbon to meet with police chief Tom Fabiano to brainstorm ideas for a designated village bike route. In addition, Fitzgibbon contacted Village Attorney Fred Thiele, Jr., to discuss the legality of the ordinance prohibiting Main Street bike travel. A public hearing date, however, hasn’t been set.

A hot topic also on the agenda was the passing of a local workforce housing law. According to village mayor, Greg Ferraris, New York State mandated last year that all Long Island municipalities adopt the Long Island Workforce Housing Act. Ferraris believes the mandate forces municipalities to address the issue of affordable housing, but Sag Harbor has already incorporated affordable housing legislation into the new village zoning code. When the new zoning code goes into effect, said Ferraris, it will supersede the Long Island Workforce Housing Act.
The Long Island Workforce Housing Act stipulates that any developer seeking to build five or more units would receive a density bonus of at least 10 percent, with all units created through the bonus being affordable workforce units. The developer has three choices for how to meet the affordable housing provision: by providing on-site housing, by building the housing elsewhere, or by paying into an affordable housing fund.
At the meeting, Sag Harbor resident Bill Chaleff commended the state for addressing the need for affordable housing.
“It is no longer possible for us to keep our head in the sand about this issue. Every other municipality needs to do something about this,” said Chaleff.
Of the housing fund payment provision, however, he said “The temptation to use payment as a way out is too strong … Payment should be used as a last resort.”
This provision could potentially allow developers to pocket millions from selling their property, while only a few hundred thousand would end up in the housing trust. Ferraris, however, believes a housing fund is a pragmatic solution considering the cost of development in the village.
A public hearing on the new village code has been scheduled for January 29.
During the meeting, the Sag Harbor Cinema sign was also designated as an historic landmark
Long Isla

Concern Over State Housing Mandate

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The Long Island Workforce Housing, which mandates inclusionary zoning for all of Nassau and Suffolk counties, passed the state assembly and the senate and was sitting on Governor David Patterson’s desk yesterday awaiting his signature. However Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot has another name for the law, the Long Island Housing Developers Windfall Act.
Kabot, as well as the rest of the town board, fear the law was not vetted at the local level to the extent it should have been. The main issues the town would like to see addressed involve the developers’ ability to opt out when it comes to providing mandated affordable housing.
The way the law is written, any developer seeking to build five or more units would receive a density bonus of ten percent, with all units created through the bonus being affordable workforce units. But Kabot believes that’s where it gets a little dicey, specifically concerning a developer’s option to not build the extra units and instead pay money into a workforce housing trust. The provision has the potential to essentially let a developer pay $200,000 into a housing trust and then build a unit on a lot and sell it, pocketing perhaps millions of dollars.
There are essentially four opt out alternatives, the first being the developer deciding not to build to maximum density which would exempt him from the law altogether. The second alternative allows the developer to simply build the units onsite. But it’s really the remaining two that the supervisor would like to see re-worked. She has contacted State Assemblyman Fred Thiele who has promised, in the case that the law is indeed adopted, which she believes it will be, to pursue chapter amendments in Albany.
“In the event it goes into law,” said Kabot, “there are always ways to amend laws.”
One opt out provision allows the developer to build the affordable units offsite, anywhere in the town. Councilman Dan Russo pointed out that this provision would simply facilitate what has traditionally been the case with affordable housing in the town.
“School districts like Flanders, Hampton Bays and North Sea will continue to get the bulk of the affordable housing,” said Russo.
Kabot echoed his concerns and pointed out that areas like Sagaponack would remain virtually affordable-housing free if developers are simply allowed to transfer the units.
But it is the last alternative, the housing trust, which has Kabot most concerned. A developer is also allowed to opt out and pay a fee in lieu of building units. The way the law is currently written, a developer can either pay twice the area median income of a family of four, which in Southampton comes to roughly $194,200, or the appraised value of the affordable lot.
Town attorney Dan Adams pointed out that, given the vale of land, a developer is most likely to go with the lesser of the two fees.
“If [the development] is in a place where the land value is very high,” he said, “it’s their unfettered right to make one of those choices. With the straight economics of it, they will take the choice that makes the most economic sense to them as a developer.”
“The read is that the developer is in the driver’s seat,” said Kabot, “instead of the town.”
Kabot is also concerned with another aspect of the law, which states that if a developer chooses to pay the fee in lieu of building the units, the town has up to three years to construct the units before it is turned over to the Long Island Housing Partnership. At that point, the not-for-profit is allowed to use 50 percent of the money to build units anywhere in the town while the remaining 50 percent is placed in a revolving loan fund for down-payment assistance to eligible home buyers anywhere on Long Island.
Kabot said while the Long Island Housing partnership is a laudable organization — the town has worked with it in the past, including on the Bridgehampton Mews affordable housing project — it is her belief that the town should be able to decide which not-for-profit should get the money. She also mentioned the town’s own housing authority as a possible option.
Russo said he did not view the three-year window as a major concern.
“In three years, if we can’t do something [with the properties], then shame on us,” he said. “It’s almost like a mandated kick in the butt to the town, which I think some of us need, myself included.”

Top Photo: Southampton Town CPF Manager Mary Wilson explins the new CPF legislation at a twon board work session. (Bayles photo)