Gov. Kathy Hochul has dropped a proposal from her budget that would have required municipalities to accept backyard cottages and apartments in single-family zoned neighborhoods, Newsday reported Thursday.
But Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth said Friday morning, “Albany extremists will resurrect this terrible idea the moment bi-partisan opposition gets distracted. Stay vigilant!”
The proposal met with strong opposition from elected officials on Long Island, who said that more units in neighborhoods not designed for the extra housing would overload sewer systems, schools and available parking. Local leaders also said they should control zoning rules. Under the proposal, municipalities would not be able to reject requests to add units, which could be either apartments or separate units on the property, unless there was a clear danger to safety.
Supporters of Hochul’s plan said there is a desperate need for more housing and that single-family zoning was limiting availability. Hunter Gross, president of the Huntington township Housing Coalition, said, “Accessory apartments create new affordable housing without changing the character of the neighborhood. It gives homeowners a chance to mitigate the costs of ownership, while allowing young people the opportunity to afford to stay on Long Island. We need to expand our tax base. We see accessory apartments work in Huntington. It’s a no brainer for this to be state-wide.”
The requirement that municipalities accept ADU’s, as the apartment and cottage units are known, was one of the major issues US Rep. Tom Suozzi used against Hochul as he challenges Hochul for the governor’s job.
Suffolk Legislator Stephanie Bontempi, R-Huntington, said, ““While there is some room for improvement regarding laws associated with accessory dwelling units, mandates from the state are not the answer. Our towns and villages here in Suffolk County have their own unique needs and visions, which are determined by the residents and put into law by their elected representatives.”
“Since my days in local government, I have believed strongly in the importance of consensus-building and listening to communities and my fellow policymakers,” Hochul said, according to Newsday.
Smyth and Town Councilwoman Joan Cergol both pointed to Huntington’s accessory apartment law as models for the state to consider. The town requires that homeowners wanting to add accessory apartments to meet certain standards, including the provision of off-street parking, that the home be owner-occupied and that the property be inspected every two years.