The Southampton Town Board has approved the Sandy Hollow Cove apartments, a project that sparked heated debate over how the town should balance a need for affordable housing with the perils of overdevelopment.
The decision enraged residents of Tuckahoe, who have rallied since last year to stop construction of the complex on 2.6 vacant acres in the hamlet.
David Gallo, president of developer Georgica Green Ventures LLC, of Jericho, said construction of the three buildings containing 28 rental apartments will begin in about a year and take about a year to complete.
Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst championed the development, calling it a rare opportunity to build housing for middle-income workers, young people and retirees amid the high-priced property market of Southampton.
"It's a difficult decision to make, but our town is a big town, our town is a town with a lot of needs," Throne-Holst said before Thursday's 5-0 vote.
"If we have room for those well-heeled, high-paying taxpayers, that's great," she added. "But we also have to have room for the working families of this community."
The Sandy Hollow Cove debate was particularly fierce, even in a town where the prospect of development routinely draws crowds to Town Hall. Several residents held signs and two police officers stood watch at the special meeting scheduled for the vote.
Georgica Green Ventures said a maximum of 46 residents will live at Sandy Hollow Cove, which will consist mostly of studio and one-bedroom apartments. Tenants will be limited to those making between $30,000 and $85,000 a year. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment will run about $1,100 a month.
"We look forward to working with the community to provide the area's teachers, nurses, firefighters and other current and future leaders homes in which they can be proud," Gallo said.
Neighbors collected 835 signatures on a petition opposing the project. Many said it calls for too many apartments in a wooded neighborhood far from public transportation and commercial districts.
"This is a quiet hamlet," said Stan Fayman, 71, who has lived next to the project site for 28 years. "If they had some heavy hitters to fight, this would have worked out differently. They were picking on the little guys."
Residents said after the vote that they are vetting attorneys to help them file a lawsuit to stop the development.
Georgica applied last year to build four buildings containing 34 apartments at the site and reapplied with a new plan after neighbors protested.
The firm is seeking about $5.5 million in federal and state tax credits for affordable housing to help finance the development.
The Southampton Housing Authority, a quasi-governmental agency that seeks to build affordable housing in the town, is partnering with the developer on the project.