Southold Town to host pair of public meetings on comprehensive plan

Southold Town will hold two public meetings later this month to discuss the proposed housing chapter of its new comprehensive plan.

The first meeting will take place Monday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. at the Peconic Community Center on Peconic Lane and the second on Saturday, March 3, at 10 a.m. at the Human Resource Center on Pacific Street in Mattituck.

The chapter addresses the shift in real estate trends in Southold toward the second-homeowner market and the need for housing for seniors and working people.

According to the report, “Median household income for the Town of Southold was $66,464 in 2009. By mortgage bankers’ rules of thumb, someone with an income of that amount could afford to pay no more than $200,000 for a home (or carry a mortgage no greater than that amount). So half the population of Southold — households earning less than the median $66,464 — would fall under that $200,000 ceiling, when in fact today’s median home value for the town is more than twice that ($440,000), and very few homes on the market sell for less than $300,000.”

One recommendation for addressing the housing crisis is the “adaptive reuse” of existing housing by encouraging accessory apartments and conversions of existing outbuildings. It also recommends using Community Development Block Grant funds to provide grants and loans to create accessory apartments and multi-family housing.

The chapter recommends establishing areas known as NORCs, or naturally occurring retirement communities. These are residential areas where large numbers of seniors already live that will become eligible for grants to provide social services nearby so those seniors can age in place.

The plan also recommends using funds raised when developers in inclusionary zoning areas decide to pay into an affordable housing fund, rather than build affordable housing as part of their development, and partnering with Habitat for Humanity to improve substandard housing and build new homes for households on the town’s affordable housing registry.

The plan also calls for educating existing homeowners having trouble meeting their mortgages about programs designed to help keep them in their homes.

The full text of the chapter is available online.

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