Petition seeks more accessory Apartments

Since Riverhead Town voted to allow accessory apartments in residential zones in early 2008, there haven’t been too many takers. (At least not on the books.)

But there are a lot of people who favor allowing apartments even in areas where they aren’t currently permitted, it seems.

About 78 residents have signed a petition in favor of allowing accessory apartments in the Industrial C zone, where residential uses are currently prohibited.

The Town Board held a public hearing two weeks ago on a proposal to allow accessory apartments in five commercial zoning categories where some residential use is currently permitted: Hamlet Residential, Riverfront Corridor, Commercial/Residential Campus, Rural Corridor and Hamlet Center.

But the only person who spoke at that hearing was an attorney representing an elderly Calverton couple who purchased a house with an upstairs apartment in the Industrial C zone on Edwards Avenue, which they said is permitted now because it existed before zoning. The petition only asks only that accessory apartments be allowed in similar residences, which are non-conforming uses in the Industrial C district that existed before zoning.

Town building department head Leroy Barnes said the town has granted only about 23 accessory apartments permits since the law was passed in 2008. At that time, the town hoped that allowing legal accessory apartments would increase the available stock of affordable housing, allow seniors to rent part of their homes and not have to move and encourage people with illegal apartments to legalize them.