Source: The Independent

Town Breaks New Ground

by Lisa Finn

July 12, 2006

It was a home run for the good guys.

Southampton Town Supervisor Skip Heaney and members of the town board hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday at The Courtyards at Southampton, located on Majors Path in North Sea.

In a win for residents, 14 of the 50 residential units, approved in 2004, will be designated as workforce housing.

A lottery for the 14 units, with preference given to local residents and employees, will be held later this year. It will be the third such lottery in 12 months; earlier this year, lucky winners were chosen in the Bridgehampton Mews and The Pines lotteries.

According to Heaney, the story is one that portrays a community truly coming together for good.

The property, once an automotive junkyard, was formerly owned by John Kutchuk, who “always wanted his property to be used to satisfy some public community work,” said Heaney.

As a junkyard, the property caused some concern among neighbors over activities at the site.

And so, the town stepped in with a planning study initiated in partnership with residents of the North Sea area. The highest recommendation among residents for the parcel, said Heaney, was for mixed housing.

“Residents stepped up to the plate and said they would take their share of workforce housing in the community,” said the supervisor. “Instead of the typical dose of NIMBYISM, it became YIMBY, or Yes, In My Backyard.”

The experience was a pleasure, said Heaney, who enjoyed working with members of the community who were “diligent and responsive in that they considered how we might provide some moderate income housing for young working people.”

Once Kutchuk passed away, relatives handling his estate chose to honor his request that the land be used for a public purpose, and a planned development district emerged that afforded 28% of its units to residents with income ranging from moderate up to middle.

“Residents really worked with the town and it was their acceptance and leadership that made this possible,” said Heaney. “With housing, you never hit a grand slam — no one project will solve the problem. Housing is like softball — it’s not the grand slam that ultimately wins, it’s the team that can bat the most singles. This is just another single.”

The Long Island Housing Partnership will run the lottery, which will be held in several months.