Review Gansett Housing Complex

Changes to the site plan for the 37-unit affordable housing complex to be built at 531 Montauk Highway in Amagansett were discussed by the East Hampton Town Planning Board on Jan. 16. The East Hampton Housing Authority, which is working with Georgica Green Ventures on the development, cited budget constraints and, in one instance, a directive from the state, which is providing $7 million as well as tax credits for the project, as reasons for the modifications. 

The planning board had approved a site plan for the complex, which the housing authority is calling Gansett Meadow, last June. It will be on 4.6 acres between the Amagansett I.G.A. supermarket and V and V Auto. 

The plan calls for seven buildings with 12 one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units, plus one with four bedrooms, as well as a common building with a laundry and meeting rooms, 74 parking spaces, a sewage treatment plant, and a rain garden. 

The rental apartments will be for those who work full time, year round, in East Hampton Town and do not own property. Only a small percentage of units will be subsidized, and renters will have to meet income eligibility requirements.

In a Dec. 21 letter, Catherine Casey, the executive director of the housing authority, informed the planning board that in the interest of cost effectiveness the seven buildings are to be prefabricated. The decision to use modular construction, she wrote, “necessitated some minor changes,” including a reduction in the size of the building footprints. 

Other alterations were made, she wrote, for budgetary reasons. In the earlier site plan, for instance, carports with solar panels were to be installed; they have since been removed. A full basement planned for the common building will now be a crawl space, and walkway pavers will be replaced by concrete. 

None of the modifications will “change the character or overall aesthetic of the project,” Ms. Casey wrote, but “serve to perfect the plans as we progress toward construction.” 

At the Jan 16 meeting, Marguerite Wolffsohn, the town planning director, listed some other differences between the original and new site plans. No longer included, she said, were low grasses screening a driveway that runs alongside Montauk Highway. 

The modified site plan also contains 5 percent more ground coverage than the previous version. Joanne Pawhul, the assistant planning director, said on Friday that the increased coverage was due to the reconfiguration of stairways and the addition of porches, and was still within the maximum allowed by zoning.

To the dismay of the developers and board members, a community vegetable garden  has been removed at the request of the state. David Gallo, the president of Georgica Green Ventures, said state officials were concerned about a garden at the north end of the property, next to the Long Island Rail Road tracks. Those tending the garden, they said, would be negatively affected by noise. 

Arthur Goldman, the director of the housing authority, assured the board that the changes to the site plan that was approved were minor and the omission of certain landscaping features was an oversight. He also said the housing authority would send an updated plan and other information to the board the following day. All of the department’s questions, he said, would be fully addressed. 

Samuel Kramer, the newly appointed chairman of the planning board, said that members  would review what the housing authority had to say, and he hoped the site plan modification would be approved at last night’s meeting.