By Andrew Wroblewski
Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards has proposed changes to the town’s policy of approving homes for two-family use to bring it in line with the way accessory apartments applications are currently reviewed.
In seeking to build accessory apartments, applicants are required to give public notice.
However, currently, residents do not have to go before the ZBA or Huntington Planning Board when seeking to create a two-family dwelling, Edwards said.
“Intuitively, it seems as if this legislation is something that makes sense,” she said. “I’m not trying to take away a right, I’m trying to provide the same right that we have for communities across our zoning code.”
If Edwards’ proposal is approved, the ZBA would be required to review the architectural design of homes and their locations before approving a special-use permit for owner-occupied two-family use in R-5 residence districts. This would allow community members the opportunity to comment on proposals when they are made.
Owners would also be required to prove to the ZBA that they would suffer severe hardship if their application was denied. That hardship cannot be self-imposed.
This is intended, the proposed change to the code states, to ensure “the house appears to be a single-family house of no more than two stories by restricting design features such as exposed cellars, large attics, tall roofs, multiple driveways, multiple decks, and prominent secondary dwelling entrances.”
Edwards’ resolution states that while, historically, two-family homes can have negative effects on surrounding properties, they can also be a “valuable addition to the available housing stock of the Town.” Edwards said the Town of Huntington averages about one new two-family dwelling per year – a small number, she added, but “if you’re on that block, it’s an impact.”
The Huntington town board will hold a public hearing on Edwards’ resolution on Sept. 16 at its next board meeting.