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May 9, 2016 10:06 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Amagansett CAC Meeting On Affordable Housing Project Draws Large Crowd Monday Night

Monday night’s Amagansett CAC meeting drew a large crowd to the American Legion. JAIME ZAHL
May 12, 2016 4:56 PM

About 100 people packed the Amagansett American Legion hall for a Citizens Advisory Committee meeting Monday night, where some questioned the damage that they said could be caused by a proposed housing project, slated for the 4.6 acres at 531 Montauk Highway next to the town-owned 555 property. Still others spoke in support of the project.

Catherine Casey, executive director of the East Hampton Housing Authority, worked a PowerPoint presentation, explaining that the project would include one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. She said household income and composition would determine a candidate’s eligibility and availability of units. Preferences would be put in place for residents who work and live in East Hampton year-round, members of the volunteer fire departments, EMTs and veterans.

To be eligible for units, candidates must make less than 30 percent through 120 percent of the area median income and have legal resident status. In addition, a candidate must not own any other form of property.

Reports and presentations distributed by the Amagansett School District cited that the project would lead to significant tax increases and financial instability for the district, stating that the district would see a low end increase of 36 students at a tax increase of $647,421 or, at most, an increase of 72 students, which would cost taxpayers $1,473,487.

However, Ms. Casey said tax bill increases calculated by the Len Bernard in the Town budget office in response to the districts estimated budget increases were $138 on the low end and $315 on the high end.

Some have argued that the district has the capacity to take on new students.

Joseph O’Connell, a former administrator of the East Hampton School District and an Amagansett resident, said he supported the project and that Amagansett should not be concerned about an increase in student population when their current student to teacher ratio is 1 to 5.

“That’s a country club,” he said. “Let’s get real, folks.”

Other attendees said the project would have negative environmental impacts on the hamlet.

Alexander Peters, president of Amagansett-Springs Aquifer Protection, urged Ms. Casey to conduct a water impact study.

“We haven’t heard a word of where the water is coming from,” said Mr. Peters. “If any other development came here and put up a 40-unit development, they would be seriously examined. We want to know this is safe for us.”

Anna Bernasek of Amagansett said that although she supports affordable housing, she takes issue with the possible impacts on the hamlet. Currently, Amagansett has a population of about 1,200 people. By calculating the amount of people able to live in the complex, Ms. Bernasek said the hamlet is looking at a 12 percent increase, or 140 people.

“I think that’s a really significant impact,” Ms. Bernasek said. “I’m okay if we can understand what that impact is going to be. My question is, ‘can’t we have a study of what that 12 percent increase in the population is going to do to our environment, to the water, to the traffic, to the safety, to the school. Can’t we get that information first before we rush in and do something?’”

Ms. Casey argued that the population of Amagansett is approximately 5,521, of which 70 percent is seasonal. Meanwhile, she said the "dead of winter" population is about 1,656.

"Percentage increases should be based on 96 people, not 140, therefore off-season population increase of 6 percent and in-season increase of about 2 percent. This does not factor in the residents who may already be living in Amagansett, of which we expect at least 20 percent," she said.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell, who was born and raised in Amagansett, took the microphone after Ms. Bernasek to address that evaluating the impacts she described was part of the process for application to the town’s planning board.

Mr. Cantwell added that there would be a public hearing with the town’s planning board, where the public can continue to voice their concerns.

“We have a problem in town and it’s housing,” Mr. Cantwell said to the crowd. “Katy and the Housing Authority are trying to find a way to deal with part of this problem,” he said of Ms. Casey and the town.

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East Hampton's a liberal left leaning town, right? So I'm sure all 100 people attending are 100% behind the project.
By HamptonDad (236), Hampton Bays on May 9, 16 11:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
The liberal chickens have come home to roost. The social justice warriors should be in complete support. They should go further than low income housing and make sure they stipulate diversity. Amagansett needs to be integrated.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on May 10, 16 6:58 AM
"De pecuniae" segregation
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on May 15, 16 10:28 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on May 10, 16 7:38 AM
"not Section 8 housing"

You may support the project, and are obviously passionate about it since you're equating anyone who opposes it with the Ku Klux Klan, but it's not necessary to lie about it even if you think your deception is being done in the name of a good cause.

On May 14th, 2014 Suffolk County amended its "Human Rights Law" to make it illegal to discriminate against someone who's using Section 8 vouchers. "Workforce Housing" is a convenient title but in no way limits ...more
By ChrisDiPetta (37), on May 10, 16 8:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
What part of preference to volunteer firemen, EMT's, veterans etc. don't you understand? These are not dirt-cheap apartments. There is a huge need in our area for affordable housing for local people. A 1000 sq foot starter house is 500-600K here.

Funny how all of the negative comments are coming from Hampton Bays and beyond.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on May 10, 16 2:01 PM
Do you still stand by your statement that these apartments won't be available as Section 8 rentals?

The preferences you describe are unenforceable and in some cases, illegal (IE, Veterans, since military status is explicitly not permitted to be used as a factor in housing decisions in NYS).

There are many projects like this that have been going up at the urging of the department of Housing and Urban Development. Right now the Section 8 voucher rate for a 2 bedroom in Suffolk is ...more
By ChrisDiPetta (37), on May 10, 16 5:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Technically, you are correct that Section 8 rentals are permitted. But
typically I think of Section 8 housing as a dumping ground for the unemployed which won't happen in this instance due to the preferences specified specified and the high median income out on the East End.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on May 11, 16 8:04 AM
But not in this case. Family has to have decent income to qualify even at 30% level based on high median income and rents here.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on May 11, 16 10:01 AM
They never talk about the PILOT's. Always a significant net loss and always absorbed by the tax payers in the community.
Once again the high density project rears its ugly head. Follow the $ and see who benefits most from this model. Hint, it's not the community.
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on May 10, 16 10:03 AM
1 member liked this comment
There's one main reason most people choose to live year round in the Hamptons. The low density population we have for 8 months of the year. Sure we can live in western Suffolk where we can find houses maybe more affordable and closer to jobs but we chose to live and raise our families out east for a better quality of life. That better quality of life costs more money that we work hard for it. Why is it the towns job to find affordable housing? I don't want more condos/apts/complexes raised that ...more
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on May 11, 16 4:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
This is a done deal hatched at the eleventh hour to save face about the Board's "backdown" on putting housing in Wainscott. If they were serious they would have done both. All smoke and mirrors to get elected ...
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on May 15, 16 9:50 AM