The Town of East Hampton, population 22,009 (2016), is located at the eastern tip of Long Island in Suffolk County, approximately 110 miles east of Manhattan. In 2007, the town adopted an Affordable Housing Credit Program that uses transfers to facilitate the creation of affordable housing as well as protect land with natural, scenic, passive recreational, forest, historic, aesthetic, cultural or economic value. The sending sites are owned by the town and permanently preserved by covenant or conservation easement in a process called sterilization in Suffolk County. The sterilization process aims to keep harmful levels of nitrogen and other pollutants out of the aquifer that provides drinking water to much of Long Island. See the profile for Suffolk County for more information on how the Suffolk County Department of Health Services regulates baseline and bonus density/intensity within portions of the County not served by sanitary sewer systems (Suffolk County DHS 2014).
The allocation of credits to sending sites begins by discounting the site acreage by 25 percent, meaning multiplying it by 0.75, and dividing by the minimum lot area allowed in the site’s Groundwater Management Zone (GMZ). Land in residential zones other than A and B are further reduced. Sites owned by the town in an urban renewal area qualify as sending sites as long as the town banked the development rights.
Each Affordable Housing Credit represents 300 gallons per day of wastewater flow and allows an increased intensity of one single family home or one apartment unit. Covenants and restrictions limit these units for affordable housing only.
Receiving areas include parcels in the Neighborhood Business, Central Business, Affordable Housing Overlay, Commercial Service, and Commercial Industrial districts as well as residentially zoned property owned by the town. The maximum intensity allowed is double the baseline density allowed by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services in the receiving parcel’s GMZ.
Transfers must be made between sending and receiving sites in the same GMZ and the same school district (unless a study shows no net increased effect). Wherever feasible, the sending and receiving sites must also be in the same Harbor Protection, Water Recharge, and Flood Hazard overlay districts.
Unlike some other transfer programs in Suffolk County, the decision of whether or not to approve a transfer is discretionary. The Town Board conducts a public hearing and considers the potential environmental consequences of the transfer including adequacy of infrastructure and compatibility with adjacent properties.
The code requires the Planning Department to maintain a registry of all parcels conveyed to the town and the development rights banked, including information specific to each sending site. The registry must also list the receiving sites where all credits have been used.
As of 2014, the program had issued and redeemed 16 credits (Suffolk County 2014).
Suffolk County. 2014. Suffolk County Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Study. Hauppauge, New York: Suffolk County.
Suffolk County DHS. 2014. Suffolk County Department of Health Services General Guidance Memorandum #27: Guidelines for Transfer of Development Rights and Pine Barrens Credits for Sanitary Density Credit. Hauppauge, New York: Suffolk County Department of Health Services.