Dozens of Southampton residents packed a town board work session Thursday to oppose a 51-unit workforce housing project proposed for 4.28 acres on North Phillips Avenue in Speonk.
Plans for Speonk Commons were presented with a zoning change request as part of the first stage of the board’s consideration of the project.
Jericho-based Georgica Green Ventures LLC and the Town of Southampton Housing Authority would be the co-developers. They want to house the studio, one- and two-bedroom units within five buildings.
Included would be 101 parking spaces, an on-site wastewater treatment facility, 3,882 square feet of retail space and a 2,932-square-foot community building with storage and laundry facilities.
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said in an interview before the meeting that “the need is extreme” for affordable housing in town, but noted that strong opposition to the project was also expressed in nearly 200 form-letter emails he received prior to the work session.
“I find it hard to believe” that such a project is being proposed “in this quaint area,” said Eastport resident Joyce Duck during the work session. She said the housing would lead to the “deterioration and destruction of our community.
“We cannot accommodate the influx of people” that the housing would create, Duck added. She said it would have a detrimental effect on schools, stores and traffic.”
Speonk resident Craig Catalanotto said he is not against affordable housing but he said it needs to be more appropriate for the area.
“We are not opposed to affordable housing — the only issue here is density,” Catalanotto said.
Another resident, Diane Renna, said after seeing a rendering of the housing displayed during the presentation, “It looks beautiful but it’s too big.”
The target market for the housing includes schoolteachers, nurses and town employees who work in Southampton but cannot afford to live there.
Monthly rents for the 10 studio apartments would range from $930 to $1,434; the 25 one-bedroom units would be priced from $1,000 to $1,500; and the 16 two-bedroom apartments would range from $1,195 to $1,700.
Schneiderman said that if nothing else the project “would be a real improvement” to the “eyesore” property there now.
“The site is blighted with derelict structures and abandoned buildings,” the supervisor said.
Schneiderman said the project “meets a lot of criteria we’re looking for” in regards to affordable housing.
“It’s walkable and it’s next to the train station and a bus stop,” he said.
During the work session Schneiderman said that normally comments from the public would not be allowed at a work session and would be more appropriately accepted at a public hearing but he said they were being permitted as a “government courtesy” because of the controversy over the proposal.
Schneiderman said the board needed more information to be gathered on the project and that perhaps it would be discussed again in an early September work session and if the board members choose to move ahead a public hearing on the matter would be scheduled.