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Town Board resists draft pictures in housing plan: Architect says Islanders should see the ideas

Town Board members generally rejected a request to include some drafts of possible affordable housing in the plan being developed by the Community Housing Fund Advisory Board and Town consultants Nelson Pope Voorhis.

The request came from CHFAB member Michael Shatken, an architect, at Tuesday’s Town Board work session. Mr. Shatken has produced, pro bono, some early drafts of possible housing structures.

But Councilwoman BJ Ianfolla said there are no plans under consideration by the Town Board. She and most of the Town Board argued to put out the drafts as part of the plan would be premature, while Mr. Shatken said Islanders are asking to see what’s envisioned.

Councilman Jim Colligan said he thought some drafts could be made public in advance of the Nov. 8 Community Housing Fund referendum, and up or down vote on the Town taking advantage of a 0.5% real estate transfer tax to be used for affordable housing.

Mr. Colligan added that including the drafts in the plan would help pass the referendum. But he didn’t persist in his suggestions.

Mr. Shatken argued that with talk about improving the look of Route 114 in the Center, people could see that what’s envisioned would be a positive improvement.

“We don’t know what we’re going to build,” Supervisor Gerry Siller said. Deputy Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams said she thought when the Town gets closer to building it would be appropriate to present designs.

Councilwoman Meg Larsen agreed, noting that including pictures in the plan would be “putting the cart before the horse.”

Drafts have been shown at Community Housing Fund Advisory Board workshops.

Consultant Kathryn Eiseman and Taylor Garner, from Nelson Pope Voorhis, outlined short, medium and long-term goals to provide affordable housing:

• Efforts will produce 10 rental units over the next five years, which could include some accessory dwelling units in existing houses.

• Produce another 10 rental units within a 10-year period. Given limited resources and the overall goal of a total of 20 to 40 units, CHFAB Chairwoman Elizabeth Hanley said it wouldn’t be prudent to aim for anything but that modest goal because the town has never produced rental units.

• Find a means of managing rentals and explore how to find appropriate management.

• Educational efforts to familiarize people interested in affordable apartments can begin along with building a registry of those interested and to begin to qualify them in terms of income levels. If there are more applicants than units, there would be a lottery system to determine those who could get the units until more are created.

• Any newly created housing would have to meet standards set by the Suffolk County Department of Health with respect to water and septics, as well as the Town Zoning Code.

• New structures would have to be architecturally in line with community aesthetics and heritage.

It’s expected the next report would represent a final draft and be available to the public on the Town website by Sept. 27 at the latest. On Sept. 27, the Town Board would set Oct. 11 for a public hearing on the plan.