By Dan Panico
The false narrative by our governor, Kathy Hochul (D), continues with this nonsensical, heavy-handed housing plan that threatens to override long-established law and the will of the people who live in local communities. It’s a false narrative because the notion that local municipalities aren’t approving housing is patently false; it’s the lack of sewer infrastructure coupled with the practical aspects of a developer’s land and construction costs that make the practical application of the idea extremely difficult, not obstinance derived from local municipalities. Let’s discuss some examples.
Across the Town of Brookhaven in Port Jefferson Station, North Bellport, East Patchogue and Mastic Beach, there are four quick examples of pending proposals where mixed-use redevelopment is desired by the community and embraced by the town, and three are in proximity to a train station. Each development would offer new restaurant and retail options, as well as brand new housing options for young and old and everyone in between. The municipal opposition portrayed by the governor simply does not exist here; it is a false narrative.
However, with the exception of East Patchogue, where the Town of Brookhaven in a very forward-thinking manner buried dry sewer lines to connect to the nearby Village of Patchogue sewer district years ago, the biggest hurdles in the other three project examples remain the lack of readily available sewer capacity. While we are working with Suffolk County on each other project, the costs associated with the sewer infrastructure necessary for such development and redevelopment render the projects unbuildable without some sort of government sewer funding. That is where the governor should invest her time and the state’s funding by helping Suffolk expand sewer infrastructure so local municipalities can continue to work on community-based redevelopment.
To continue to threaten local municipalities with state rubber-stamp approvals demonstrates a glaring lack of awareness of the realities of the situation or the logistical realities of what real development actually entails. Moreover, in most areas on Long Island a developer could not realistically build these state-envisioned housing projects because of the high cost of land, divided into so many small parcels with single-family homes and businesses, combined with costly construction requirements, parking requirements and sewer infrastructure costs that would never make the project financially viable, let alone affordable. This fact is being overlooked as the governor portends opposition to projects that have not come forward and proposals that simply do not exist. In fact, it’s the exact opposite approach in Brookhaven, as we are leading the way by amending our codes and seeking out and working with developers.
The governor would be better off stopping the political charade and giving funding to Suffolk County from the federal infrastructure bill and the recently passed NYS Clean Water Bond Act so that local municipalities can do the work of redeveloping our downtowns. It’s compromise and cooperation that make things happen, not threats and political theater.
Dan Panico (R) is the Town of Brookhaven deputy supervisor and councilman for the 6th District, which includes Mastic, Moriches, Eastport, Manorville and Calverton. He is currently running for Brookhaven Town supervisor.