On Housing, Open Space and Taxes

    A round-table discussion and public question-and-answer session from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday called “Housing, Open Space, and Taxes: A Question of Balance” will center on the issues surrounding those interrelated topics in East Hampton Town.
    It will take place at the American Legion Hall in Amagansett, and will be moderated by Charles Hitchcock, a former chairman of the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, and Debra Foster, a former East Hampton Town councilwoman.
    The panelists will include Lisa Liquori, a former East Hampton Town planning director, Tom Ruhle, the town’s director of housing and community development, Phelan Wolf, a real estate broker, Jeannie Nielsen, the town’s chief assessor, East Hampton Town Councilwoman Julia Prince, the town board’s liaison on housing, and two representatives of the Group for the East End, Bob DeLuca, its president, and Jeremy Samuelson, an environmental advocate.
    During the discussion, according to a release about the event, participants “will take a hard look at the costs of preserving open space, providing realistic affordable housing opportunities, and the impact of both on the taxpayer.”
    Each of the panelists will provide information during brief statements before members of the public are invited to ask questions or make comments.
    Ms. Liquori will provide data on population and land use here, and review the goals and importance of the 1984 and 2005 East Hampton Town comprehensive plans. Ms. Nielsen will discuss the effects of open space and different types of development on property and school taxes, as well as the effects of reassessment on tax bills, and provide a comparison of property taxes with other Suffolk County towns. Mr. DeLuca will address the need to protect open space and the successes and challenges in use of the community preservation fund, and Mr. Wolf will discuss the value of real estate located near dense development or near open space.
    Mr. Samuelson will outline the economic benefits and costs of open space and parks preservation versus development, while Mr. Ruhle will present information on housing needs in East Hampton today and what types of affordable housing are available.
    Ms. Prince will review issues before the town board related to housing.
    Other topics to be addressed include the concept of “smart growth,” which centers dense development in and around hamlet downtowns, the impacts of second-home owners on East Hampton’s taxes, effects of overcrowded houses and how enforcement can be made “effective, consistent, and fair,” whether property upzonings since 1985 have priced local young people out of the housing market, and whether East Hampton needs to increase development in order to generate more property taxes.
    The final hour of the program will be devoted to an open discussion of all the issues.