Both supporters and opponents of a proposed apartment complex in Tuckahoe doubled down on their argument over the plans at a hearing this week.
Opponents reiterated, as they have at several public meetings over the last 15 months, that the project is too much development on a property too small for it. They questioned the validity of the developers’ traffic studies, warned of safety and traffic congestion hazards on the already busy roadway, decried the town’s process of reviewing the proposal, and punched holes in the technical components of the development proposal.
“The community has specifically spoken over and over and over about this project—this is the wrong place for this,” said Noelle Bailey, a neighbor of the 2.6-acre property targeted for the development and one of the leaders of the opposition. “The inconsistencies and omissions with this application are embarrassing. If this gets voted through, I will be suing.”
Opponents acknowledged the long-professed need for more middle-income housing in the town but said that the town should be focusing its efforts on properties better suited for high-density development, or on legalizing accessory apartments in private homes.
Supporters, on the other hand, applauded the project as a first step in meeting a need for more apartment-style housing for young people and those who work in middle-income jobs at places like Southampton Hospital, Town Hall and a variety of small businesses.
Former Town Supervisor Patrick Heaney, now a government liaison for the Southampton Business Alliance, harked back to the fitful efforts at creating affordable housing during his administration, and lamented that little has been accomplished to address the issue.
“Housing has to be addressed,” he said. “Someone indicated that this was being rushed; well, I was sitting in your seat, Madame Supervisor, when this was first addressed. We need affordable housing. We need housing for tomorrow’s leaders—and we need it today.”
Other supporters, who were more numerous and vocal at Tuesday night’s public hearing than they have been at past meetings, appealed to the town to approve the project and then start aggressively searching for more chances to do something similar.
“I’ve never seen another project like this … it’s important to a bunch of people that I know,” said Billy Sacher, a 25-year-old from Southampton. “Besides family property or a stroke of random luck, it is very difficult to rent out here and make ends meet.”
The development proposal, to be known as Sandy Hollow Cove, calls for 28 studio and one-bedroom apartments in three buildings to be constructed on the 2.6-acre parcel. The land would be owned by the town’s Housing Authority, which would partner with a private developer, Georgica Green Ventures, in the construction and management of the project. Georgica Green would put up all of the purported $9 million cost of construction and would operate the apartments once they were occupied. The company operates several other apartment complexes around Long Island.
“The reality is, we have to do this,” said Dr. Katrina Foster, pastor at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Amagansett, which built a 40-unit apartment complex in 2011 on 5 acres of land it owned adjacent to the church. “It is doable. We heard all the same concerns in Amagansett about it couldn’t be done. You have a unique opportunity of land, a developer who has a vision and money. I urge you to make this come together.”
Other supporters, from insurance agents to a U.S. Coast Guard commander, spoke of a dwindling workforce and the inability of businesses to grow or survive without qualified workers who can afford to live near their workplace.
Georgica Green’s attorney, David Gilmartin Jr., said that calls for the project to be put somewhere closer to Southampton Village were unrealistic because of high property values, even though the recent sustainability update to the town’s Comprehensive Plan called for such focus of high-density housing within walking distance of hamlet centers and public transportation hubs.
Opponents insisted that multifamily housing should not be built in close proximity to single-family houses. Sandy Hollow Road has commercial businesses on it, a point the developers and Housing Authority have made to cast the area as something other than a residential neighborhood, but the property targeted for the development is surrounded entirely by private homes, some just yards from where the apartments would go up.
“We are not NIMBYs—we want [affordable housing] in our backyards,” Ms. Bailey said in a portion of her statement read aloud by another opponent, Frances Genovese. “We just don’t want what they are proposing.”
The Town Board will hold another public hearing on the proposal on June 10.