A week after the Town of Brookhaven and local state representatives bashed Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) plan to potentially eliminate certain single-family zoning laws across New York state, other Long Island townships and Suffolk County officially voiced their concerns.
During a press conference at the county Legislature in Hauppauge Thursday, Feb. 10, more than two dozen elected officials at town, county, state and federal levels collectively agreed that Hochul’s plan would be bad for the Island.
Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) said that of all the officials gathered, it was a unanimous, bipartisan agreement that this should not happen.
“We are all concerned about the future of Long Island and the quality of life here and the need for local government to have control over their zoning with local elected officials,” he said.
“This is a radical plan by the governor to take away local zoning from where it belongs in the hands of the local officials who were elected to make sure that the zoning codes stay in place for the quality of life that each one of the municipalities that they choose to live in.”
He added that if Hochul’s plan in fact happens, it will eventually have an impact on parking, water quality, sewerage and more.
The governor’s comprehensive five-year housing plan would potentially invest $25 billion to create and preserve 100,000 affordable homes and tackle inequities in the housing market. Last month, she announced the plan to make housing more affordable as part of the 2022 State of the State.
“In the wake of the pandemic, it’s crucial that we tackle the housing crisis and make New York a more affordable place for all,” Hochul previously said. “These bold steps are a major step forward in transforming our housing market, protecting affordability and increasing the housing supply.”
Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) noticed the plan in the State of the State book and began bringing it to the public’s attention. Suozzi is campaigning to take Hochul’s seat. He cited her State of the State book on pages 130 and 131 regarding accessory dwelling units. According to those documents, he said the governor would want to oppose legislation to require municipalities to allow a minimum of one accessory dwelling unit on owner occupied residentially zoned blocks.
“That’s the end of local control,” he said. “That’s the end of local governments authority.”
Suozzi believes this could be “a dangerous idea” that could “result in commercial landlords buying properties and trying to pack people into neighborhoods.”
“This is just a failure to understand what it’s like out here,” he added.
Currently, many building permit applications that increase the number of bedrooms in a dwelling require the approval of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.
According to county representatives, at no point in the proposed legislation does it address the fact that the health department determines the appropriate number of persons residing at a home that is utilizing cesspools. Over 75% of Suffolk County is unsewered — a mass expansion of accessory dwelling units will result in a deterioration in the water quality here on Long Island.
State Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James) said that state lawmakers are continuously “going against everything we live for and our investments.”
“I wake up in the morning and I feel like I’m in the twilight zone,” he said.
Mattera added that many municipalities have been focusing on downtown revitalization plans, which already create apartments.
“We’ve been doing these apartments for a reason to make sure our families have places to go so we keep our young or middle aged or seniors here,” he said. “We are doing that job governor, but governor, this is not the City of New York. We’re in the suburbs. This is so important for our future.”
Representatives from the Town of Huntington were in attendance, with Supervisor Ed Smyth (R) voicing that the town already has permissive accessory apartments laws.
“We already allow for accessory apartments in homes in the town,” he said. “We don’t need Albany telling us how to do this.”
He added, “With home rule, we have ensured that our communities do not become overdeveloped, are kept environmentally sound, and are a place people want to live and raise a family. This proposal by the governor would end all of that overnight. Proof of how bad an idea this is … is the fact that both sides of the political aisle have come together to state their opposition.”
Smyth said they will not stop until the item is removed from the New York State budget and “laid to rest.”