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Town Board withdraws accessory apartments amendment for now

The Southold Town Board withdrew an amended local law on accessory apartments Tuesday after the legislation was tabled twice at prior meetings.

Supervisor Scott Russell said at a Sept. 24 Town Board meeting that public misunderstanding surrounding the law led to confusion about the proposed changes. He also raised concerns about the notions of primary residency and eligibility. Those concerns, he said, must be clarified.

The Town Board voted unanimously to withdraw the motion and did not discuss it further at Tuesday’s meeting.

The law, which has been amended and rewritten a few times for “additional measures that could encourage the creation of legal accessory apartments for residents,” according to previous reporting, is designed in part to create greater housing inventory.

Prior coverage

A number of community members have come out in criticism of the amendment in recent months, concerned about short-term rentals.

“An increasing number of house purchases are by people who are not interested in living here, even part-time,” said Democratic Town Board candidate Bob Hanlon of Orient at the Sept. 24 meeting. “They buy up multiple properties for high-rent, seasonal use, and for short-term rental, even though it is not allowed.”

He, like Greg Doroski of Mattituck, the Democratic candidate for town supervisor and Anne Murray of the East Marion Community Association, also took issue with the Town Board’s process in proposing the changes. They said the amendment was never referred for input to certain boards, committees and civic associations — including the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Housing Advisory Committee — all of which have a stake and represent the communities at large.

Mr. Russell said then that the Town Board has been gathering input for years and taking all of it into account.

“Every single week we have people that are struggling,” he said in September. “How much more input do I need after getting that input day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year? I sat in at almost every single meeting of the housing chapter, so I’m familiar with the challenges. I’ve worked with the groups that try to create affordable housing and other types of housing … We have been getting input all of the time. I have been wrestling with this all of the time, but we need the housing.”

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