Last week, the Town Board effectively ended all building of apartments in Huntington Village by passing amendments to the C6 Zoning that unnecessarily increase the parking requirements and limit upper floors to 150% of the ground-floor footprint. These added cost burdens make it impossible to build affordable housing for our residents, and indeed, will likely make it impossible to build any more apartments at all.
The Town has known since their 2008 master plan that we need at least 10,000 more homes and at least 2,000 affordable homes. With land in limited supply, the only way we can approach these numbers is the kind of developments that involve apartments, and apartments need sewers to handle the density. As it happens, the changes in the law passed in 2017 have already stopped new developments from being filed as the existing parking requirements are too onerous.
Effectively banning further development by increasing parking requirements even further in one of the few sewered areas of town is a slap in the face to the workers of Huntington.
The timing is especially poor coming in the midst of the pandemic. Among the lowest paid jobs on Long Island are home health care workers, phlebotomists, and medical, dental, and nursing assistants- our front-line workers against COVID-19. Nor will it help the very people who make our village vibrant: cashiers, retail sales clerks, and just about every occupation in a restaurant are also listed among the lowest paid. Housing is not like the Field of Dreams; workers will come where the jobs are whether we build housing or not. By not providing affordable housing we force people to crowd together in apartments, exacerbating the chances of contagion. If they find affordable housing farther away, then they add to the traffic problems and require parking near work. It’s much better to create housing closer to where they work.
We call on the town to present a plan of action to create the 10,000 homes their own plan said we need. We agree with the three-story limits on buildings and with the need to take adequate protections of our water in the ground and in the bay. Throwing up barriers to creating housing without presenting a plan on where and how it should be built is an inadequate response that harms our residents most in need, and makes us all poorer as a result.
Roger Weaving is president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition