In order to take shape, affordable housing projects need increased density

Developers behind two separate affordable housing projects in Southold say they need to access stored sanitary flow credits in order to move forward, creating a dilemma for town officials who must weigh the need for housing with the scarcity of available flow.

Earlier this month, developer Todd Feuerstein, on behalf of HC NOFO LLC, filed an application with the town to use sanitary credits in order to increase density on the flag lot property just east of Town Hall.

His proposal calls for 14 apartments on the 1.12-acre property. Two would be located inside an existing home and the others would be split among three, two-story buildings. The apartments would mostly be two-bedroom units at 800 square feet, town officials said.

Innovative-alternative wastewater systems that reduce nitrogen loading have also been proposed, but without the transfer of sanitary credits, the developer believes his project cannot move forward.

According to town government liaison Denis Noncarrow, Mr. Feuerstein is seeking 15 sanitary flow credits to put toward the project, a number town attorney Bill Duffy described as “significant.’

“Once you exceed double density, the health department requires almost double the credits to go above that,” Mr. Duffy explained during a work session Tuesday.

Deputy supervisor Jill Doherty said the availability of credits is something the board must consider. “There will be future projects and it’s not like we get these credits easily,” she said.

“It’s not like we get many projects, either,” Councilman Jim Dinizio said.

The proposal would also require a change of zone from Hamlet Business to Affordable Housing District, which Mr. Feuerstein has already filed for. 

In the change of zone application, he notes that the project aligns with goals set forth in the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan since the property is located within walking distance of public transportation and the downtown business area.

Mr. Noncarrow said the project is a “home run,” and that he’d be disappointed to see the number of proposed apartments decrease based on sanitary flow.

“We’ve been sitting on a lot of these [credits,]” Mr. Noncarrow said, adding that there are approximately 54 credits in the town’s sanitary flow bank.

A hearing on both the change of zone request and transfer of sanitary credits has been set for Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m

Tuesday’s work session also included a discussion on another pending affordable housing development proposed for the former Knights of Columbus hall on Depot Lane in Cutchogue. Before a hearing is set on their change of zone request from Residential to Affordable Housing District, board members asked the applicants to provide more information about the scope and design of the project. 

Earlier this month, officials raised some concerns about whether the project would fit into the character of the Depot Lane neighborhood.

“You’re going to turn that corner and we don’t want it to be ‘Bam,’ right in your face,” Ms. Doherty said.

Attorney William Goggins, speaking on behalf of the applicants, said they plan to sufficiently screen the building and design the driveway thoughtfully so it’s not fully visible from the road.

The existing Knights of Columbus hall would be used for between six and 10 apartments, Mr. Goggins said. Six additional apartments would be constructed in a new addition at the rear of the property in what he described as a “typical townhouse” style.

Despite a back and forth about the building’s facade, Councilman Bob Ghosio said the board should remain focused on the zoning issue at hand. “I’m concerned too that the elevations are going to fit in the neighborhood, but I think that there’s avenues that come after this where that’s going to be decided anyway,” he said. “I don’t think the developer is looking to put an eyesore in Cutchogue, either.”

Mr. Goggins said the number of total apartments will ultimately hinge on what the county health department will approve in terms of sanitary flow and density.

Without the increased density attained by sanitary flow credit, Mr. Goggins estimated that they may only be allowed to construct eight apartments on the site.

An application to use stored sanitary credits from the town has not yet been filed and a change of zone hearing on that application will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.