After a recent victory, when the Southampton Town Board voted that a number of properties in Riverside would be developed for affordable home ownership, not rentals, the Flanders, Riverside, and Northampton Civic Association says they’d still like to discuss affordable apartment rentals in the community.
For weeks, FRNCA members voiced their opposition to a the Southampton Town board and were discussing to help garner input from Riverside residents about whether or not they’d like to see 72-H properties deeded from Suffolk County developed for use as affordable private homes or rentals.
After weeks of public testimony, the town board voted recently on a resolution restricting the development of the properties to private home ownership.
And now, Vince Taldone, FRNCA vice president, said he’d like the board to consider some possible options for affordable apartments in the Riverside and Flanders area.
“FRNCA looks forward to working with the town on any plans for senior, disabled and workforce apartments in our area,” he said. “The development of affordable housing is welcome in the FRNCA hamlets, provided it is melded with commercial and other revitalization efforts that stabilize or improve our tax base and job opportunities for residents. We are ready to work with Southampton and its housing authority to expand quality housing options, but based on good planning principles.”
So far, Taldone said, no discussions have been forthcoming. “Sadly, no one has contacted FRNCA or the Riverside Revitalization Community Corporation to meet to discuss affordable rental apartments,” he said.
Taldone said he and others spoke at the town board and articulated that they were ready to work with the town and the town’s housing authority to develop senior and workforce rental buildings, inlcluding multi-family or accessory units above stores or attached to private homes, in the Riverside Urban Renewal Area.
“Any option is on the table provided that it has on-site management, such as a superintendent, or an owner on the premises, such as accessory apartments in single family homes that are sold," he said.
Taldone added that if done properly, the town could possibly offer a small payment in lieu of taxes to cover library, fire and ambulance district assessments. “The big ticket item is school taxes, which is so much less of an issue with senior buildings or developments that are mixed or have only one or small two-bedroom workforce apartments,” he said.
Taldone said, after the recent controversy regarding the 72-H properties, his offers to both Richard Blowes, executive director of the town’s housing authority, and Bonnie Cannon, of the housing authority, to help oversee the sites in question through to construction -- something he said he was involved in, with the other 72-H sites in Flanders and East Quogue -- have not been acknowledged.
“If they have another plan that doesn't involve me, that is absolutely fine,” Taldone said, adding that he does plan to check back soon because the lots are deed restricted for completion within two years, with only 15 months remaining. “They need to move quickly to show the county that they are moving forward. They have had three of the lots for over 11 years and the county is getting impatient with the town. I am sure that the town can get another extension but they will have to show that they are taking steps to develop the properties,” Taldone said.
Of the town board’s decision to forego the survey and vote to move forward with the 72-H parcels, Chris Nuzzi, who has always voiced support for private ownership, said, “Considering the abundance of existing rentals in the Flanders/Riverside and Northampton communities and some of the property maintenance issues that have arisen because of that, I agree with the community representatives who thing home ownership is the appropriate way to go with the 72-H properties. It will bring value, investment, and pride of ownership into an area that needs it,” Nuzzi said. “These are beautiful areas within our town and we need to continue to promote them through positive reinvestment in existing properties.”
Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, who abstained from the vote, explained why this week. Fleming said the board heard testimony at the public hearing from a gentlemen who lives in the immediate neighborhood of one of the 72-H properties, and said he knew nothing of the issue, and that other neighbors were equally unaware. “Since the housing authority was discussing options, including a survey to ensure input from neighbors, I felt it was too early to take a vote on the measure,” she said.