Two neighbors questioned the East Hampton Town Board’s proposal to buy a 2.5-acre parcel outside Sag Harbor on which to build housing, but following that public hearing last Thursday the board unanimously approved the $890,000 purchase.
The land, at 776 Route 114, in the Wainscott School District, is adjacent to a parcel for which the town approved a purchase, for the same purpose, from Triune Baptist Church in January. Up to 27 units of affordable housing are to be constructed on that 3.92-acre parcel.
An existing house on the 776 Route 114 property, which will be acquired from the Margaret Smith Family Trust, is to remain.
Roy Nicholson, who told the board that he owns land adjoining the property to be acquired, complained that the “massive building development that has been proposed” is in an area zoned for low density. “The proposed development calls for many more residential units than any private developer would be allowed,” he said.
The land is also in a sensitive water recharge area, Mr. Nicholson said, and the “extensive clearing, paving, and infrastructure will negatively impact the surrounding water quality as well as wildlife habitat.” Finally, he said, the proposed housing development contravenes the town’s commitment to environmental conservation.
Another neighbor, Bobbye Sue Stauffer, told the board that she and her husband own an adjoining parcel, a flag lot at 774 Route 114, and jointly own a shared driveway with the 776 Route 114 property. “Needless to say, this impacts us,” she said. “This property is behind us, Triune is on the side. We’re being surrounded, but we don’t know what all this means. . . . There are questions, of course, we would like answered as to how this impacts us.”
Mr. Nicholson urged the board to purchase the land with community preservation fund money to “mitigate the impact of the proposed affordable housing development and lessen the negative effect on surrounding property values.” Short of that, he said, “I hope you would think about a buffer between my property and what is happening there.”
But Job Potter and Jeanne Frankl, both of the town’s community housing opportunity fund advisory board, spoke in favor of the purchase. “The fundamental building block of all of our affordable housing efforts is land,” Mr. Potter said.
The purchase, Ms. Frankl said, “could go a long way toward enabling . . . this town board, in its support for affordable housing.”
Betty Mazur also urged the board to vote in favor of the purchase. “We hear enough about the lack of affordable housing,” she said, “and once again this town board is doing its utmost to increase the number of affordable units that we have in this town.”
Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc told Ms. Stauffer that there would be a “vigorous review” of the shared driveway with respect to development at 776 Route 114. “It would not be an access driveway for a development in that location,” he said, “because there are opportunities, given the width, especially coming off 114, to locate an access driveway away from residences to the greatest extent possible. That’s a basic tenet of how a site plan would be developed, to ameliorate that.”