East Hampton deal aims to boost affordable housing

The Village of East Hampton had its long-standing

The Village of East Hampton had its long-standing policy on large gatherings at shops formalized. (Aug. 29, 2011) (Credit: Erin Geismar)

East Hampton, in a bid to boost affordable housing in the village, has voted to end a $10,000 fee for new apartments in commercial districts that don't provide parking -- on one condition.

The owners must agree the rent will permanently meet affordability guidelines.

The measure, which passed 5-0, applies to apartments above stores in the village's business district and includes new apartments in the village's manufacturing zones. State and federal guidelines dictate who qualifies for affordable housing based on income and family size.

"This is a baby step for village government . . . a first step," said Mayor Paul Rickenbach Jr. "We're hoping to build on this."

The resolution drew support from both village residents and people outside the village. At a public hearing before the vote, no one spoke against it.

"We strongly support finding ways of creating affordable housing," said Joan Osborne, speaking for the East Hampton Village Preservation Society.

Jim Mooney, who manages the Windmill Village and Whalebone Village affordable apartment complexes for East Hampton Town, said there are 350 people on a waiting list for the 175 apartments, and new applicants can expect to wait three to five years for housing.

"Our applicants live in basements and sleep on couches. . . . They pay 50 percent of their income for rent," Mooney said. "They are our seniors and our children. Some have lived here for generations."

The measure also drew the "overwhelming support" of the Long Island Builders Institute, which wrote to the village to encourage passage of the measure.

Like many other villages that see a big increase in population in the summer, parking is at a premium in East Hampton, and new businesses or apartments that cannot provide their own parking space are required to pay into a special fund.

The village generally limits parking on its streets and in municipal lots to two hours during the day, and several local businesses have signs warning that vehicles not belonging to customers parked in their lots are subject to towing.

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