Planners reviewing 14 affordable rental units planned next to Southold Town Hall

The Southold Planning Board reviewed updates to an application for 14 affordable housing units along Main Road in Southold at a work session Monday.

The developer still needs to submit a plan for site plan management and is still working toward approval from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, among other things, said town planner Brian Cummings. 

Developer Todd Feuerstein plans to renovate a historic two-story dwelling neighboring Town Hall to include two affordable apartments at no more than 850 square feet each. Three two-story buildings containing four 813-square-foot apartments each would be built behind the dwelling. It’s located on a 1.12-acre parcel and would have 28 parking spots. There are three bike racks planned for the site, as well as a five-foot-wide sidewalk.

Once requested details have been added, the Planning Board will continue site plan review. A covenant would be drafted by town planning staff and reviewed by the Planning Board and town attorney.

The town initially found insufficient front and side yard setbacks, but Mr. Cummings noted at Monday’s meeting that those were primarily due to the existing historic building. The parcel’s location in an Affordable Housing District (AHD) means that the Planning Board has the authority to reduce or amend yard setback requirements.

“There have been some updates to the plan that bring the apartment buildings, basically the rear deck accesses, the apartment buildings, closer to the property line than previously shown and then there is the actual code section for the Planning Board and its authority,” Mr. Cummings said. 

The project would cover 39% of the overall landscape and 10.9% of natural vegetation coverage would permanently remain. The Planning Board noted existing trees in the north and northwest areas of the site should be preserved, although a landscape plan has not been submitted. The developer has also proposed relocating a stop sign.

“It hasn’t really been ironed out yet, we want to make sure that the town is aware that there’s an encroachment, our driveway is on their parcel, because if that weren’t to change, if it were to stay as is and they were just going to develop it, there would be a zero-foot separation distance from the existing end of pavement right now and the proposed parking lot,” Mr. Cummings said. The property line eventually needs to be addressed by the Town Board, the Planning Board said.

Details on exterior signage haven’t been submitted yet and the Planning Board has noted that security lighting is needed.

The project would use Hydro-Action IA systems. The developer has obtained a letter of water availability from the Suffolk County Water Authority and plans indicate public water will be brought from Travelers Street.

As defined by the Planning Board, the purpose of the AHD is to allow for the “development of high-density housing for families of moderate income” in certain areas of the town, in a way that’s sensitive “to the historic and aesthetic character” of existing neighborhoods. Homes in AHD zones are meant to be affordable in perpetuity.

The parcel neighbors Town Hall, with the post office located on the other side of the development, along with driveway access to the Feather Hill shopping center. 

The application, put forward by Mr. Feuerstein under HC NOFO LLC, was pitched to the Town Board in 2019. The town Historic Preservation Commission has approved the proposed alterations.

Mr. Feuerstein said in an interview last month that he purchased the property several years ago. “It seemed it was a good site for affordable housing. It met all the criteria the town was looking for, and obviously there’s a huge need for affordable housing in Southold Town,” he said.

He indicated hope that construction could begin in as soon as a few months. He said there “hasn’t been one negative comment from the town” so far on the proposal. 

“Our project is proposed inside the Southold hamlet, in the HALO zone, where the town comprehensive plan has stated that’s where they’re looking to put affordable housing,” he said. 

Mr. Feuerstein said he’s working on another 24-unit affordable housing project in the Cutchogue hamlet that should appear before the town Planning Board over the next few weeks. Both developments are privately funded.