Op-Ed: ‘No’ Can’t Be the Answer to All Housing Plans

At last week’s Town Board meeting the residents of Dix Hills stood up to complain about a proposed apartment development as being ‘not appropriate ‘ for Dix Hills.

It was not proposed to be on a leafy tree-lined street populated by single-family homes.  It was to be built in the stretch of Deer Park Avenue just north of the LIE, a four-lane divided road that currently holds an assisted living facility, a school, BOCES, and five admirably diverse houses of worship.  Not one of the speakers suggested where they WOULD build an apartment building in Dix Hills.

This attitude is exactly why we at the HTHC support governor Hochul’s housing plan.  The plan says “you have to build 3% more housing.  And if you can’t figure out where to build it, we’ll tell you where: at the train stations”.  Local control delayed Matinecock Court for over 40 years.  Local control has delayed the Melville overlay zone for over a decade.  More recently local control took away homeowners’ right to have an apartment in their basement.
The primary tool of local control is that the towns zoned everything that wasn’t nailed down for single family homes, then issued the challenge: Fight us if you want anything else.  This makes the process long, onerous and costly, making it even harder to build homes residents can afford.
There are other tools to restrict housing as well.  One recently in the news is open space preservation.  Who could be against that?  I know every time the town asks to raise our taxes so they can issue a bond to buy and preserve open space I vote for it.  But the same people who tell you there is no land to build on find land that could have been built on in the name of open space.  The town, county, and state recently bought the160-acre seminary land for a new park, located less than a mile from Caumsett State Park, another enormous park (and both close to where I live).  Could they have spared 5 acres for some affordable apartments?  Of course they could have.  Did anyone suggest putting apartments in this newly available Lloyd Harbor tract of land?  Not if they wanted to keep their jobs they didn’t.
The preservation of open space for parks is an important part of our water strategy, which deserves its own article.  But it’s not the only solution, it’s just the easiest one to sell.
Long Island in general and Huntington in particular are desperately short of housing. Governor Hochul is at least proposing a plan on how to solve it.  The local control crowd is not.  To the local control politicians: don’t tell us NO, tell us HOW.

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