Essay: Hochul Needs to Rethink Housing Plan

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s housing plan will not “liberat[e] Long Island to be the best that it can be”, as she is
quoted in Newsday, but rather it will forgo state environmental laws, bind Long Island to unrealistic housing
goals and give Albany bureaucrats final say over the growth of our communities.

During this year’s State of the State address, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced misguided plans aimed at
addressing the statewide housing crisis. The proposal will also take away the ability for local communities to
make their own zoning decisions and give that power to a “super zoning board” in Albany. This plan will be
detrimental to New York’s suburbs, particularly on Long Island.

Rather than taking away the self-determination of local communities and using the states authority to
force development, Gov. Hochul should attempt a softer approach to incentivize housing development to
diversify Long Island’s housing stock.

Take Brookhaven Town for example, which has a “Commercial Redevelopment District” (“CRD”). The CRD is an 18-acre zoning district created with the purpose of revitalizing unutilized commercial shopping centers, bowling alleys and health club properties. Along with revitalization efforts, the CRD establishes a maximum residential housing unit base density requirement of 10 housing units per acre. This maximum base density can be increased if the property meets certain requirements, such as being within 2,000 feet of mass transit, is able to utilize an existing sewage treatment plant, incorporates LEED construction methods, has been specifically targeted for redevelopment, etc. Programs like this are what is needed.

Also, the Transit Oriented Development (“TOD”) provisions of the Governor’s Housing Compact go too
far. TOD zones will encompass a half-mile radius from rail or subway stations. The new plan will establish a
tier system to determine residential housing requirements based upon the proximity to NYC. Tier 1 zones,
which are located in or within 15 miles of NYC will be required to have a minimum residential housing density
of 50 units per acre. For some areas of Long Island, such as Cold Springs Harbor, this would require buildings
five stories, which are not in keeping with the surrounding area.

Further, Long Island asked the Governor for approximately $100 million to incentivize construction.
Instead of helping Long Islanders achieve their housing goals, last year Gov. Hochul hypocritically only
provided approximately $3 million in funding, while simultaneously claiming that our communities are not
doing enough.

The threat of population growth outpacing infrastructure is greatly increased by Gov. Hochul’s proposed
super zoning board. If a local municipality votes against an affordable housing project, the applicant can appeal
to the new board in Albany, where a panel of bureaucrats will have the final say. This new policy is an assault
on Home Rule, the principle that local governments have sovereignty over local affairs, which is the
foundational bedrock of New York’s structure of government.

If the Governor is truly interested in addressing the housing problem on Long Island, a softer, incentivized, bottom up approach will, yield better results.

Assemblyman Keith P. Brown is a Republican from Northport.

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