Two weeks after a public hearing during which many East Hampton Town residents spoke about the mental health impacts of housing insecurity and the difficulty of staffing businesses, the town board voted last Thursday to adopt an affordable housing overlay district off Route 114 in the Wainscott School District, just outside of Sag Harbor.
The district will include 776, 780, and 782 Route 114. The town acquired #776 and #780, totaling 6.5 acres, to develop affordable housing. The two-acre parcel at 782 Route 114 is owned by the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust.
The scarcity of affordable housing has forced many people to leave the town in which they grew up and many others into a seemingly permanent state of housing insecurity, moving frequently between summer and off-season rental properties.
At the same meeting, following another March 3 public hearing, the board voted to amend the town code to increase the allowable number of single-family residences per acre in affordable housing overlay districts from two to four. The code also allows up to eight apartment units per acre.
Also at the meeting, the board set April 7 for a public hearing on a pilot program allowing restaurants to transfer seating from indoors to outdoors. Under the pilot program, which is envisioned as a three-year trial, restaurants, with the exception of those in a residential zoning district, could set out a number of tables and chairs equivalent to its indoor capacity, provided there is adequate space. The few restaurants within a residential zoning district would be allowed to place the equivalent of three-quarters of their indoor seating capacity outdoors. Restaurants would be required to keep one indoor table empty for each one outside.
The program follows the relaxation of outdoor dining rules put in place as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted much commercial activity on the tourism-reliant South Fork, particularly that of restaurants and bars. Restaurants would have to apply to the Planning Department for a renewable transfer of outdoor dining area administrative permit.
Also on April 7 will be a public hearing on amending the town code with respect to the “new” publicly owned, private-use airport planned to open on May 19 after the town deactivates East Hampton Airport in its current form. The private-use airport is to operate under a prior-permission-required framework, under which pilots will need advance clearance before using the airport. The board is expected to enact restrictions on aircraft operations at the airport, a move intended to reduce the volume of takeoffs and landings and noise associated with them, particularly from jets and helicopters.
The April 7 meeting will start at 2 p.m.