Changes to a local zoning law were debated Wednesday in a public hearing before the Huntington Town Board in hopes to make accessory apartments more affordable and available for homeowners and renters.
Some of these changes would include reducing the lot size requirement from 7,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet, and the frontage requirement from 75 feet to 50 feet. The shift in legislation is meant to create a cost-effective solution for homeowners who live on smaller properties.
Another change in the zoning law would allow homeowners to choose between living in the central portion of their home or the accessory apartment, so older citizens who are retired can afford to live alone and pay off mortgages.
“It just makes sense for homeowners to use the maximum amount of their homes as they see fit,” Town Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci said.
“Having an accessory apartment has allowed me to stay in my home as a senior, and it also allows families to live in apartments with more than one bedroom,” Helen Boxwill, a Huntington resident, said.
According to a 2008 study conducted by Rutgers University and commissioned by the Suffolk County Legislature, Huntington ranked in the bottom tier compared to other Long Island towns that will be able to provide rentals and affordable housing in 2020.
The study identified 2,789 units of workforce housing would be needed by 2020, of which almost 40 percent were to be for middle-income homeowners.
The average percentage of accessory apartments in any given neighborhood is estimated to be no more than three to four percent, according to Roger Weaving Jr., president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition.
The legal number of accessory apartments in a neighborhood cannot rise above 10 percent. Lawfully, a neighborhood is defined by the half a mile radius surrounding one accessory apartment.
Members of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program in Huntington raised their concerns to the town board about how more apartments could impact the overall quality of the town’s water and overwhelm the septic systems.
“If you have an accessory apartment on a house that has a cesspool, and that cesspool directly affects the waters in the harbors, it shouldn’t be allowed. It should get a coastal assessment,” Jackie Martin, a Huntington resident, said.
A public hearing is scheduled June 18 at 7 pm to consider prohibiting accessory dwelling units in basements/cellars unless a valid accessory dwelling unit permit already exists or is pending with an already-filed application.