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Greenport Village eyeing code amendments to curb commercial ‘overdevelopment;’ sparks discussion on affordable housing

Greenport is considering code amendments to curb overdevelopment in the village. 

At a work session last Thursday, Mayor George Hubbard called on the village administrator and attorney to draft proposals tightening parking requirements for businesses in the village. 

Trustees discussed potentially eliminating a grandfathering clause that exempts buildings in commercial districts built before 1991 from off-street parking requirements and increasing the fee some business owners may pay in lieu of parking requirements.

“We have a terrible parking problem in this village,” Trustee Julia Robins said, emphasizing that the village needs to protect its infrastructure. “Our streets are so clogged with cars and trucks and everything else right now, I don’t think we have the ability to keep up with what’s going on.” 

Mr. Hubbard said he doesn’t “want to stop people from investing in the village,” but people have been taking advantage of an aged code. “I just want to update everything and get us going with it,” he said. 

He added that the board would need to have a public hearing on the proposals, but “it’s a step in the direction to try to control what’s happened over the past five years.” 

The discussion was sparked by Ms. Robins, who said the village needs to address its affordable housing crisis and called for a moratorium on permits for development in the Waterfront Commercial and Retail Commercial districts. The board needs to review the village’s local waterfront revitalization program, she said.

Conversation at the meeting didn’t focus on the housing crisis, but Ms. Robins said that the village needs to find a way to “provide housing security for the workers and families that provide the services that our community needs,” such as first responders, teachers, tradespeople and retail and service workers.

“I think we need to talk about this as a community,” she said. “I know it’s not only on the Village of Greenport, but we need to find a way to maintain housing for the people who need to run this village.”