The East Hampton Town Board set June 15 as the date of a public hearing on amendments to the town code regarding attached and detached affordable accessory apartments.
The board voted unanimously to schedule the public hearing at its meeting last Thursday. The vote follows multiple discussions over several months with Jeremy Samuelson, director of the Planning Department, as to how to create more affordable housing while preserving neighborhood character, quality of life, and environmental resources. The discussions have resulted in proposed legislation intended to simplify the code and the application process, while also doubling the potential number of such apartments from 20 to 40 per school district, for a maximum of 200.
The proposed code changes include increasing the maximum monthly rent from 110 to 130 percent of the fair market rent for existing housing in the Nassau-Suffolk area as set by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Using 2023 figures, this would be just under $2,000 a month for a one-bedroom and about $3,000 for a two-bedroom.
Under the proposal, attached affordable apartments could be a maximum of 50 percent of the principal dwelling’s gross floor area, but not to exceed 1,200 square feet, instead of the current maximum of 600 square feet. Separate affordable units would still be limited to 600 square feet.
Under the proposed amendments, the minimum lot size for affordable accessory apartments in detached structures would be further reduced to 20,000 square feet. In a 2016 pilot program, detached affordable accessory structures were limited to lots of at least 40,000 square feet. That was later reduced to 30,000 square feet.
An existing limit of one bedroom per affordable accessory apartment would be raised to two, and a limit on a maximum of two people residing in an affordable accessory apartment would be removed. A prohibition on owners of a single-family residence with an affordable accessory apartment also renting guest rooms would be lifted.
For apartments in commercial buildings, a requirement that they not be located in a basement would be removed, as would language limiting their seasonal rental to employees of the business operating there. These apartments can now have up to two bedrooms, but the code would be amended to allow up to two beds and two occupants per bedroom.
The code would be changed to clarify and streamline the permitting process for property owners wishing to occupy an affordable accessory apartment, and not the property’s principal dwelling. A requirement that affordable dwelling units be limited to year-round occupancy by a resident of the town would be lifted, as would a minimum one-year lease requirement.
A requirement that owners of a property with an affordable accessory apartment be year-round residents would also be eliminated. Instead, the property would only have to be their primary legal residence.
The town board’s June 15 meeting will start at 11 a.m.