Concerns that state would bypass local control
Beacon and Philipstown would have to increase their housing stock by at least 3 percent in three years under a plan proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
While local elected officials said they agree that the housing shortage must be addressed, several worried that Hochul’s proposal would compromise local autonomy.
Cold Spring Mayor Kathleen Foley said the governor’s “cookie-cutter approach isn’t going to work. We have to be flexible enough to respond to needs on the ground in real neighborhoods.”
Foley dismissed provisions that, under certain circumstances, would bypass local zoning laws. “Give us parameters and goals — most importantly, give us resources — but don’t override our local process completely,” she said. “It’s state overreach, clear and simple.”
In Beacon, Mayor Lee Kyriacou agreed that municipalities should retain control. “The details matter,” he said. “They have to leave enough local control for the local governments.”
Hochul’s proposal, announced in January, is a multi-pronged strategy aimed at increasing housing statewide by 800,000 units over the next decade. “Every community must do their part to encourage housing growth,” the governor said.
Among other things, her proposal would:
- Require downstate communities served by Metropolitan Transportation Authority agencies, such as Metro-North, to increase housing by 3 percent in the first three years of the program. The proposal includes multiple 3-year cycles.
- Allow affordable housing developers to bypass local zoning under certain circumstances if the community fails to meet housing quotas.
- Ease environmental review for developments around transit stations.
Justin Henry, a spokesman for the governor, said Beacon, Philipstown, Cold Spring and Nelsonville would each be subject to the 3 percent goal during the first three years. The goals are established by unit counts in the 2020 census.
Dana Levenberg, a Democrat who was elected in November to represent the state Assembly district that includes Philipstown, said something must be done about the housing shortage. “We have working people who are homeless and cycling through the shelter system,” she said.
But she added that local communities need flexibility. “One size fits all may not fit all,” she said.
Philipstown Supervisor John Van Tassel agreed that a blanket approach would make it difficult for the town to comply.
For example, he noted, Hochul’s proposal creates incentives to convert commercial buildings to residential. “We don’t have a lot of that,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of buildable property. There’s just not a lot here.”
Foley said the 12-acre former Marathon Battery property on Kemble Avenue could help the village comply with the proposal. “Our comprehensive plan calls for dense, mixed uses on that site, including diverse housing,” she said.
Kyriacou said Beacon has two projects under construction that are consistent with the governor’s proposal: Edgewater near the train station and 248 Tioronda.
Last month, Hochul offered aid specifically to the Hudson Valley through the creation of a $150 million Mid-Hudson Momentum Fund to help municipalities, including those in Putnam and Dutchess counties, build housing and infrastructure.
Hochul’s ham-handed approach betrays her confusion over what her role is, and the limitations that make her a bad fit for public office, such as an inability to engage local governments except by mandate. If this tyrant demands the housing, then let the state provide funding. The idea could not come at worse time, as interest rates are at their highest since 2008. If 29 affordable housing units are force-fed to Cold Spring, perhaps these may be out on Route 9, in the trailer park areas. That land is affordable. I admire and support Mayor Foley and our trustees for standing up to this empty pant-suit.
I think Gov. Kathy Hochul is wonderful — she’s looking out for all New York residents. Keep on trucking, Gov. Hochul!
A good portion of the people who live here now cannot afford to because of rising costs for everything. How will more housing help the families and people who live here now? Will it not increase the costs for everyone and make it more unaffordable when more municipal services will be needed?
We have zoning laws that have been worked on for years by local people. How can politicians in Albany subvert that?