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Amagansett workforce housing plan opponents crowd meeting

Katy Casey, executive director of the East Hampton

Katy Casey, executive director of the East Hampton Housing Authority, speaks about the Authority's affordable housing plan at an Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee meeting in Amagansett, May 9, 2016. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

A crowd of about 200 Amagansett residents mostly opposed to a proposed workforce housing project in the hamlet filled the American Legion Hall yesterday and listened as a housing official explained the need for the project.

The East Hampton Housing Authority wants to build 40 cottage-style units on a vacant 4.7-acre tract at 531 Montauk Hwy. The $18 million project would include four commercial suites, rain gardens, a bike kiosk and trail, and a common green area and playground.

But some on the Citizens Advisory Committee, which called for the meeting, and other residents view the project as low-income subsidized housing and fear its impact on the school system, the water supply, taxes, traffic and other quality-of-life issues.

“I’m not going to have my village turn into a parking lot,” said Alexander Peters, who said he was concerned about the 150 cars he said would be owned by the additional residents. “I want a real water study and I want a real traffic study,” he added.

Another resident, Bob Aldi-Ross, said he felt the project was being forced on Amagansett.

“I feel like it’s being shoved down our throats,” he said. “It’s subsidized housing. We’re paving paradise . . . I didn’t come out here to live in Queens.”

Katy Casey, executive director of the housing authority, had addressed the advisory committee on the issue but was making her first presentation since a petition was launched opposing the project.

Proponents, who have also started a petition, tout the project as transit-oriented and walkable, and emphasize that the housing is planned for workers in East Hampton Town who cannot afford to live there and to give struggling residents an opportunity to remain in town.

The 15-building development would include 12 one-bedroom, 12 two-bedroom and 12 three-bedroom apartments, which would rent from about $1,100 to $2,300 a month.

Casey said the project will need a long list of approvals before going ahead and is projected for completion in 2019.

The crowd politely listened to Casey, who answered questions presented to her on index cards as well as those asked by advisory committee members and others in the audience. One question was about whether Section 8 tenants would be accepted, and Casey said eight units would be reserved for that group.

But she assured the audience that preference for all of the units would be given to those who live in East Hampton Town or work there full time.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell, who grew up in Amagansett, asked the audience to understand how difficult it is for people to find affordable housing and reminded them that there is a true need.

“We have a housing crisis. That’s the truth of the matter,” Cantwell said.

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