July 05, 2006
Since before Riverhead Supervisor Phil Cardinale took office, the Riverhead Town Board has struggled to find a solution to the affordable housing dilemma in town. Sworn into office in 2003, Cardinale has made it his mission to solve the problem. The supervisor has attempted to convince his fellow board members that workforce housing is needed and that there are ways to go about providing such housing, but his suggestions have fallen upon deaf ears. Now, however, with a recommendation to conduct a town-wide survey of affordable housing, Cardinale's colleagues are willing to listen.
During last week's town board work session, Cardinale once again broached the topic of affordable housing and urged his fellow council members to support him in his endeavor to draft new zoning legislation that aims to make it easier for developers to build houses that young families can afford.
His plea, at first, was met with an oft-heard refrain from the board: The town of Riverhead is the most affordable town on the East End and has already provided its fair share of affordable housing options.
Councilman Ed Densieski has long argued that the town has over 20 affordable trailer parks and Councilwoman Barbara Blass continues to point out that the town recently adopted new zoning legislation for downtown Riverhead that will pave the way for new apartments to be constructed.
But Cardinale believes the efforts thus far are insufficient and do not provide options for young couples looking to start a family in Riverhead.
"They want homes," agreed Councilman John Dunleavy.
Cardinale suggested the town commence a study to explore just how much affordable housing the town has already provided and how much more is needed.
However, Rick Hanley, the town's planning director, said embarking upon such a study could prove difficult.
Hanley pointed out that while town could easily survey trailer parks, apartment complexes, and accessory apartments within single family homes, he believes that things could get sticky when reviewing the town's affordable single family housing stock.
The supervisor suggested Hanley scour real estate ads and come up with a percentage of affordable houses on the market, an idea the town board agreed is a good one.
Until information from the study is available, Cardinale said he will continue to work on affordable housing legislation, as well as to investigate county programs that provide developers with incentives to construct affordable housing that meets the Federal Housing and Urban Development Standards.