Town Board hears proposal for affordable housing project on Main Road in Cutchogue

A developer from Hampton Bays presented the Town Board with preliminary plans for an affordable housing project during its work session Tuesday morning.

Current plans for the development, dubbed North Fork Villas, call for 36 affordable rental units at 29475 Main Road in Cutchogue, between Depot Lane and Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm. The 3.2-acre property would give rise to six two-story, 2,240-square-foot buildings, each containing two one-bedroom and four two-bedroom apartments. According to the proposal, all would have outdoor patio or deck areas of approximately 55 square feet. Six first-floor apartments would be ADA-compliant. The project plan also calls for two 1,100-square-foot storage buildings, a 338-square-foot office building and 75 parking spaces.

Rental rates for the apartments would not be known until they are built and ready for occupancy, as the town’s affordable rental rate cap changes annually based on the latest U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development figures. HUD’s fair market rental rates for Suffolk and Nassau Counties for 2023 are $1,914 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,297 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Cruz Brothers Construction, the development company, has worked on various commercial and residential projects across Long Island, but North Fork Villas would mark its first foray into affordable housing. However, the family behind the company also runs Cruz Family Affordable Housing, which provides property management services to affordable housing developments.

The Cruz Brothers’ proposal comes amid the town’s effort to ratify a new community housing plan, which will enable the town to use monies collected from a voter-approved 0.5% real estate transfer fee to fund housing solutions.

Before Tuesday’s meeting, Cruz Brothers met with the town’s housing review committee — composed of Town Board members and the planning department staff — to discuss potential changes to the project. Among the factors discussed that could modify current plans are Suffolk County Health Department approvals for wastewater treatment, as well as the recommendation from committee members that the developer incorporate some three-bedroom apartments to meet a hard-to-come-by need in the community.

“It’s a bit more thorough vetting process before it gets too far down the pike,” Supervisor Scott Russell said regarding the committee. “I think the vetting process is intended to a little bit earlier in the process to say ‘this isn’t going to work for us,’ or ‘in order for this to work for us these are the changes we need to see’ … It’s better for the applicants, it’s better for the town, it’s better for everybody.’”

The proposal is still in its infancy. Now that developers have introduced themselves and their proposal to the Town Board, they must wait while the board reviews the concept further. 

“Generally we say ‘we like the general concept, but this is what we need,’ ” Mr. Russell explained. “Six board members could have six different ideas, or several different ideas. The idea is to try and get us on the same page and then give the applicant more direction and have them sit down with planning to see if they can work it out … get all the details in place, then it comes back to us and that specific plan gets voted on as part of a public hearing for a change of zone.”