Greenport aims to define ‘family’

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Village board members approved a measure Monday asking the public how the village should define “family.”

What makes a family? A group of very close-knit people? Blood relation?

Shortly after crafting new apartment rental regulations, Greenport Village board members are aiming to answer that question that themselves, as they seek to define “family” under the village code.

On Monday, village board members scheduled a public hearing for Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. at the Third Street Firehouse regarding the proposed amendment.

Currently, the code defines a family as “one or more persons occupying a dwelling unit as a single nonprofit housekeeping unit. More than five persons, exclusive of domestic servants, not related by blood, marriage or adoption do not constitute a family,” according to the existing code.

The proposed changes comes after the board adopted a new rental regulations law over the summer that defines a family as two or more persons related by blood and up to five persons not related by blood occupying a dwelling and living together as a traditional family.

Greenport isn’t the first village in Suffolk to hone its definition of “family” recently. Port Jefferson Village passed a measure in August, according to the Times Beacon Record, defining family “by criteria including members’ relationship to one another, whether they cook together and share household expenses and whether ‘the group is permanent and stable.'”

Before Greenport’s rental law was enacted, local landlords have protested the village’s definition of family, repeatedly calling the plan racist during public hearings.

In July, owner of the Ludlum Place development in Greenport Robert Jarosak said the Village’s narrow definition of a family is discriminates against Latinos.

Ludlum Place is home to 16 rental units Mr. Jarosak said he has typically leased to Latino families during his seven years as the property owner.

“I can tell you as far as the Latino population, sometimes the family consists of three close-knit couples,” he said. “So if I lease to six people in a three bedroom apartment now I am a criminal.”

In the Mayor’s absence Monday, Deputy Mayor George Hubbard said the proposed change was to keep the code consistent with the new law. He would not comment on the allegations on discrimination, saying that it would be best to wait for the public to weigh in.

Members of the public will have their chance at the board’s next regular meeting on Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. at the Third Street Firehouse.