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East Hampton Town to buy 4 acres in Wainscott for affordable housing 

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc shown

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc shown in 2016, announced the purchase of land in Wainscott for affordable housing. Credit: Randee Daddona

East Hampton Town plans to buy a 4-acre Wainscott parcel to build 20 to 30 units of affordable housing.

Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc announced the purchase earlier this month after a presentation noting the town, which faces a challenge in providing housing related to high real estate prices, has not opened a new affordable housing complex since 2012.

“One of the hardest things the town has to do is build affordable housing,” Job Potter, outgoing chairman of the Opportunity Housing Fund Advisory Committee, who delivered the presentation during a Dec. 11 town board work session.

The town has reached a deal with Triune  Baptist Church to buy the Wainscott land at Route 114 for $900,000. A public hearing on the purchase is set for Jan. 17.

In East Hampton, 139 affordable housing units have been created since 2008, a figure that includes single-family homes, accessory apartments, residences in commercial buildings, and developments such as the 40-unit St. Michael’s senior housing complex in Amagansett, said town housing and community development director Tom Ruhle.

A 12-unit owner-occupied development known as the Manor House Project is to be completed in 2019, and the East Hampton Housing Authority is expected to complete a 37-unit rental project in Amagansett by early 2021.

Among the key recommendations in Potter’s report were that the town continue to identify and purchase vacant land for affordable housing and support a bill sponsored by Assemb. Fred W. Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) to create an affordable housing fund financed by a 0.5 percent real estate transfer tax.

The report urges the town to implement affordable housing overlay districts in areas where that housing could be created, and suggests the town provide funding for those who otherwise would be served through Suffolk County’s Down Payment Assistance program. The program, which only applies to homes priced up to $360,000, is of limited use on the South Fork, where the median price is just under $1 million, the report states.

Potter recommended the board set a standard — perhaps 15 affordable housing units per year — and conduct an annual review to ensure the town meets its goal.

He noted that a review of the projects showed they can take up to eight years to complete, so the town should start crafting goals for 2026.

“We have to keep looking at all those different avenues,” Van Scoyoc said. “We’re committed to doing that.”

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