Letter to the Editor: Local Zoning and Affordable Housing

The NYS Legislature should reject Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposal that would enable NYS to override local zoning if a locality does not comply with state quotas to build affordable housing and to address NY’s severe housing shortage.. Instead -the state should provide financial incentives to taxpayers who live in communities that do their fair share or build more than what the state is expecting each local government to do to address our  housing shortage.

The Westchester Municipal Officials Association, many Town Supervisors and Mayors object to the plan to give the state power to overturn local zoning. Local zoning enables a community to maintain the character and integrity of the community. Communities have different needs.

I believe that we need to address the affordable housing shortage and offer another suggestion.  NYS should provide financial incentives to residents who live in communities that meet or exceed their housing quota.  When the NYS Legislature approved the tax cap when Andrew Cuomo was Governor – a provision was included. Only taxpayers who live in communities that complied with the tax cap  would be eligible for a tax rebate.  Local governments that voted to exceed the tax cap would have to explain to their constituents why they wouldn’t get the tax credit.  This incentive worked. Most communities comply with the tax cap.

NYS should do something similar with housing. Each community should be asked by the state to build a certain amount of affordable housing units in their community. If they comply the taxpayers who live in that community would be eligible for additional tax relief. If the locality does more than required the tax relief check would be greater.  governments should also be offered additional financial assistance from the state if they exceed housing construction goals that the state sets for them. Encourage local governments to approve more housing by making additional grants available to those that cooperate.

Paul Feiner
Greenburgh Town Supervisor

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About the Author: Paul Feiner