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Long IslandSuffolk

East Hampton homeowners may be link to affordable housing

A proposed law that would allow East Hampton Town homeowners to rent out certain detached structures on their property as affordable housing will be the subject of a public hearing Thursday.

The measure amending the zoning code is an effort by East Hampton officials to provide what they said is sorely needed moderate-income rental housing in the town.

Under the proposed law, homeowners could rent their principal dwelling and move into an affordable unit on their property. The town has historically prohibited living areas within detached structures, but the need for affordable housing has reached a point where that needed to be changed, officials said.

According to the “Findings and Objectives” section of the proposal presented to town board members who reviewed the new measure at their Tuesday work session, “The Board finds that a limited number of affordable apartments in detached structures will facilitate the need for affordable housing.”

The section adds that the affordable accessory apartments in detached structures would be a permitted use in residential districts and a special permitted use in most commercial districts.

Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said providing affordable housing in East Hampton is a major concern.

“Housing for people here is very difficult for families and people with moderate means, and this is a way to relieve some of that demand,” Cantwell said.

The proposal defines an accessory building or structure as “a building or structure which is customarily incidental or subordinate to the main building or structure.” Included would be private garages, greenhouses and garden sheds.

Accessory housing would not be allowed on a lot that contains an artist studio, rooming house or boarders, a home-based occupation or professional office, or a two-family or multi-family dwelling, and the owner of a single-family residence with an affordable accessory apartment may not rent out guest rooms.

Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, assigned to represent the town board in housing matters, noted at the work session that since the first public hearing on the measure in September, parts of the proposal were tweaked toaddress concerns expressed during that hearing.

“We wanted time for the committee to look at it and look at all comments from the board itself and look at compromise solutions to see if it would be acceptable for another public hearing,” Overby said, referring to the town’s Community Housing Opportunity Fund Committee, made up of community members and housing experts.

The public hearing will be at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

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