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Gerth presents housing initiative — Dem rival Siller critical of slow pace

Supervisor Gary Gerth said he’s working with the Town Board on affordable housing.

In addition to the four-unit housing complex the Community Housing Board has proposed, Mr. Gerth and the board have met with Dan Calabro who is in discussions to sell land to a developer for as many as 30 affordable units at no cost to the town. Mr. Gerth said he’s referred that effort to the Community Housing Board.

In addition, he’s been working with businesses and groups that want to develop housing, the supervisor said. “The Happy Groundhog” development being built by Dan and Susan Binder off Manwaring Rd. is creating several units, three of which would be used for Binder Pools employees, and three more would be offered as affordable housing.

Sylvester Manor is looking at building six or seven units for its staff, and the IGA owners want to offer six units for their employees.

The Card Cabins could tie in with IGA and Sylvester Manor in creating a nitrogen-reducing I/A system in that area, Mr. Gerth said.

Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. according to Mr. Gerth, is working to change rules for ancillary housing so a property owner could build a small cottage for a friend or relative to occupy.

Gerry Siller, who is seeking the supervisor’s seat in November on the Democratic line, and has served on the Community Housing Board, said it’s “imperative for the town to identify a housing project and begin work on it immediately.” There’s no question the town needs both affordable rentals and home ownership opportunities that are affordable, Mr. Siller said.

He pointed to the six houses on Bowditch Road that were constructed in the mid 1990s, calling them “an example of how well a town-initiated housing program can work.”

Noting that a plan for the four-unit rental structure was presented to the Town Board in December 2018 with an implementation plan, Mr. Siller said the town hasn’t acted on it.

Implementation of that plan is critical, because it would start to meet the immediate need for housing and demonstrate to constituents that it can be done, Mr. Siller said.

“The time for action is now, enough talking has been done,” he said.