A North Amityville pastor who serves on a Babylon Town board and has been renting out a church-owned home without a permit appears to be now selling the home.

The Rev. Keith Hayward, of Bethel AME, has withdrawn his application for a rental permit, which he submitted to the town in September, Babylon officials said. The church has been renting out the Sunshine Lane home since at least that time, they said. Under town code, landlords must have a permit before renting a home, but town officials said it is common for applicants to rent while their application is pending.

Neighbors were upset that the home was being rented and submitted a petition with 65 signatures asking the town’s rental board to deny the permit. The board held a hearing on Hayward’s application in March but had not since then made a decision. On May 19, Babylon officials received a written request from Hayward “to change the captioned property from rental to sale,” according to the letter. 

“I think the pastor and his board heard the residents, heard the concerns and made a decision that would be in the best interest of the church and the best interest of the community,” said Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer. 

Hayward has been a member of the town’s accessory apartment review board since 2018, for which he receives $8,000 annually. That board is charged with reviewing apartments in homes with an on-site landlord.

When asked recently by Newsday whether the church is selling the house, Hayward said, “We’re trying to figure out what the next move is we’re going to make.” Asked whether that meant a potential sale, Hayward said, “We’ve not decided what we’re going to do as of yet.” He declined to comment further.

The property was seized by Suffolk County in 2014 for back taxes and boarded up, town records show. It was to be auctioned but instead was transferred to the town in 2017 and then to the church as part of the county’s “72-H” program by which municipalities can transfer properties to nonprofits for affordable housing. The property is now tax-exempt.

Because it is an affordable housing property, there are restrictions on potential buyers, town officials said. Among the requirements, the person must be a first-time homebuyer, and their income cannot be more than 80% of the median income for Long Island, which for a family of four in 2022 is $146,400.  

Residents praised the news of a possible sale.

“I feel much, much better,” said Mildred Hodgson, who has lived on Sunshine Lane for 51 years. “We don’t want renters. As long as he gets someone who will buy it and keep the place nice, that’s all that we’re interested in.”

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