Officials Oppose Requirement to Allow More Apartments

A bipartisan group of officials in Suffolk County denounced a plan Thursday to require all New York State municipalities to permit accessory dwelling units.

The requirement is listed in the proposed state budget.

Local, state, county and federal leaders gathered at the Suffolk County Legislature in Hauppauge to criticize the plan, saying it violated home-rule principles and would harm communities by increasing parking, sewage and trash. 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.

The proposal specifically says municipalities would not be able to limit the creation of units on the grounds that they would increase street parking.

Huntington already has several rules regarding accessory apartments, including parking limitations and ongoing inspections.

Town Supervisor Ed Smyth said, “We stand united against Albany’s attempt to usurp local control of zoning.

“This is a brazen attempt to impose zoning on local municipalities.  The Town of Huntington currently has the most permissive accessory apartment laws on the books on Long Island. We already allow for accessory apartments in homes in the town. We don’t need Albany telling us how to do this. This is not about Republicans or Democrats. This is about New Yorkers vs. Albany and this kind of radical pushdown law has to stop.”

In addition to Smyth, other Huntington area leaders at the press conference included US Rep. Tom Suozzi, Assemblymen Steve Stern and Keith Brown, State Sen. Mario Mattera, Town Council members Sal Ferro, Gene Cook and Joan Cergol, and Suffolk Legislator Manuel Esteban.

Cergol said, “The Town of Huntington has had an accessory apartment (ADU) ordinance in place for over thirty years and for twenty of those years, I have had a hand in reviewing and updating that code to take into account evolving housing and community needs. Huntington has worked thoughtfully over these years to address emerging issues or curtail unwanted trends so as to strike a balance between quality of life and housing opportunity equity. Most recently in 2019 I co-sponsored an amendment to our ADU code to create flexibility in allowing the owner to occupy the accessory apartment while renting the main dwelling.  Our ADU code has evolved and grown with time, circumstance and need, and changes to it can only be made at the local level where the impacts are felt first. I invite Governor Hochul to take a look at Huntington’s well-crafted accessory apartment code to consider as a model for other areas of the state to emulate.”

Supporters of the proposed requirement say it is needed to address the shortage of affordable housing. The proposal calls for more Accessory Dwelling Units, incorporating both apartments in a home, and small backyard, cottage-like structures.

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.”

A petition supported by Housing Help read, “For homeowners, ADUs offer a plethora of benefits, such as a secondary source of income, a living space for a close friend or family member, a space for a caregiver to live close at hand, and so much more. As is evidenced by the New York State Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) data, approximately 10.75% of homeowners are delinquent on their mortgages, a number that has doubled from the pre-pandemic rates. In addition, 19.8% of homeowners of color are delinquent, compared to only 6.6% of white homeowners. For these families struggling to afford their mortgages, ADUs serve as a lasting alternative to homelessness and housing insecurity, as they can earn income from renting a portion of their homes. Seniors on fixed incomes also reap similar benefits.

“ADUs also provide new revenue to local governments by increasing home values and bringing in new taxpaying residents without significantly altering the existing built environment of New York communities.”

“The Governor is completely out of control with this amendment,” Cook said. “Why would you want to allow someone 200 miles away to make zoning decisions that affect your home and your community?  Especially when the decision maker may have never stepped foot in your neighborhood.

“Zoning laws are best regulated by local governments, as the elected officials live in the area that they represent.”

 

Accessory Apartments in Huntington

 

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