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The original item was published from 1/18/2023 10:02:39 AM to 2/26/2023 12:00:01 AM.

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Posted on: January 18, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Governor proposes that state have ability to overrule local zoning over housing

I urge the state to consider another option: providing financial incentives to schools and local governments to build affordable and market rate housing to address housing shortage

 NYS and Westchester County has a housing shortage.  Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed  that NYS build 800,000 units of new housing in the next 10 years and is recommending that the NYS Legislature approve legislation that would override local zoning laws if a town, village or city does not hit a required number of new developments.  A number of other municipal officials in Westchester and around the state  have expressed concern that  these requirements violate home rule and represent unfunded mandates that create burdens on the infrastructure in small towns all over the state.  Each municipality is unique and each municpalities needs are best addressed through local zoning. the state should not override local zoning with blanket legislation." 

 Unincorporated Greenburgh could easily comply with the requirements that the state would set for us.  New housing developments and affordable housing have been approved and are planned for the future.  But, I share the views of other local officials that NYS should not have the ability to override local zoning.  It's a bad precedent.

 I suggest that an alternative approach--provide financial incentives to communities that comply or do more than what the state is requesting. An example: In the past when housing has been proposed in Greenburgh and elsewhere residents who object to the housing proposal have raised concerns about the school district. WIll the housing proposal overwhelm the school district? Will taxpayers be paying more to educate more kids? How will the new development impact existing childrens education?  I think if a locality works with the Governor and State Legislature and helps the state solve our housing crisis the school district should be eligible for additional funding.  Local governments, if offered  additional  financial assistance  if we build more housing, would also have an incentive to do more to end the housing crisis.  Another incentive to create  more affordable housing:  NYS should pay the proper real estate taxes on each unit of affordable housing that is currently subsidized by local governments. Currently affordable housing developments do not pay the  same real estate taxes that market rate units pay.
A carrot rather than a punishment will achieve the same goals that the Governor has set.  It actually may accomplish more since local governments will have an incentive to support more housing.  
I would like to emphasize that unincorporated Greenburgh will not have to worry about a NYS override of our zoning laws since I anticipate that we will continue to do more than our fair share --approving more housing developments and affordable housing.  We are doing this voluntarily.   In 2009 Westchester County entered into a stipulation and order  with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to increase its efforts to further fair and affordable housing.  The county agreed to build 750 units of affordable housing in 31 of the county's lease diverse communities. Greenburgh was exempt from the requirement because we had already done our share voluntarily.

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