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Shelter Island affordable housing plans are on track

After many years of discussion and debate about affordable housing, often met with variations of “Not in my backyard,” the Community Housing Board (CHB) is preparing to unveil designs for rental apartments and sale houses on three town-owned sites.

On May 5 and again on May 25, CHB members will show designs that they believe can fit with the character of the Island. The three sites are at 12 South Ferry Road, near the Shelter Island Historical Society; 69 North Ferry Road, between the IGA and property belonging to Marcello Masonry; and 16 Manwaring Road, opposite the Sylvester Manor Farmstand.

CHB members said they’re working with an attorney experienced at putting together a request for proposals in search of a builder interested in constructing the housing. At the same time, they’re looking forward to hearing from residents about what they like or dislike about the designs.

There are some two-story designs, and if any of those are used, the apartments would have to have effective sound controls, not simply carpeting, to control noises carrying from one unit to the other. Similarly, single level structures with side-by-side units, need to also have thick enough walls between units to keep noise from carrying.

Another concern discussed at past meetings includes plans for using green materials, possible solar panels, and native plantings on the grounds. They will be guided by the town’s Green Options Committee in selecting what can work best at each site.

They are also hoping to get an idea of how many people would need affordable housing so they can begin to compile a list. Work is underway to determine eligibility requirements in terms of income levels to qualify.

For those who are able to purchase houses, the CHB is looking ahead to determine “buyback” provisions, so a purchaser of an affordable house would be able to resell the house back to the town. The plan is to ensure the house will forever meet affordable standards set by Suffolk County.

The first public session on May 5 will take place at the Center Firehouse from 1 to 3 p.m. The session on May 25 is scheduled for the tent outside the library, with hours to be announced.

Visitors who want to weigh in on the designs can visit within a two-hour period, spending perhaps 15 minutes to examine the designs and offer their recommendations.

Councilman Benjamin Dyett, who is a Town Board liaison to the CHB, said to help get the word out to the community about the two public viewings of the designs, the Better Island for All mailing list can be used. That political organization was used by three candidates — Mr. Dyett, Albert Dickson. and Gordon Gooding, candidate for supervisor, during the 2023 election period.

Accessory Dwelling Units

The Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) program is continuing, and while those apartments need not meet affordable standards, the CHB hopes some will. ADUs are spaces in existing properties where apartments might be created in either a main house or an accessory building.

It’s expected that while the units financed with an initial $2 million state grant will continue, the town and Community Development Corporation of Long Island will be ready to hold a public meeting with property owners who want to explore the possibility of ADU conversions.

It’s hoped the public will be able to receive guidance in early June, CHB chairwomen Elizabeth Hanley said. She and CHB members are anxious to begin putting the additional $1.5 million grant to work.