Town Board Proposes Ban On Basement Apartments, Changes In Housing Law

 The safety of short-term rentals and basement apartments were part of a public hearing at Tuesday night’s Town Board meeting after board members presented proposed changes to a housing law.

Town board members have proposed legislation that would ban all basement and cellar apartments unless a valid permit already exists or is pending for an application..

Conrad Ege, a Huntington resident, says he supports the limitations on short-term rentals, but opposes the banning of basement apartments.

“It will limit the lower-income homeowners,” Ege said. “It will make it harder for them to pay some of their lines of credit, to pay outstanding taxes, to pay for other improvements that are necessary on their home.

Others who supported the law argued that basement apartments are hazardous to people’s health due to mold and possible carbon monoxide leaks.

“Many basement areas I inspect are basically point-blank absolutely unlivable, and with serious indoor air quality problems people living in these spaces can become sick,” Daniel Karpen, engineer and Huntington resident, said.  

Roger Weaving Jr., the president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, says this is the first time the board has considered tightening code restrictions on basement apartments.

In his presentation to the town board, Weaving also asked officials to clarify the difference between basements and hi-ranches if the law were to pass. According to Weaving, hi-ranches and basements are commonly confused as the same, which can create problems for many renters and homeowners.

Board members also considered changing the term accessory apartment permit to accessory dwelling unit permit for consistency within the town code, which brought up concerns about short-term rentals.

According to Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, some neighbors complained that short-term rentals like Airbnb are negatively impacting their quality of life. In April, the Town Board  voted to reduce the number of days that a homeowner can engage in rental agreements from 120 days a year to 90 days.

For Justine Aaronson, a Dix Hills resident, limiting the number of days a person can stay in a short-term rental is not enough. After a stranger’s car with New Jersey license plates parked outside her home, Aaronson says short-term rentals have kept her and her family on edge.

“The change to 90 days is a start, but we really have a way to go,” she said. “It’s going to get worse and worse as Airbnb is booming.”

The next public hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 16 at Town Hall.

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