Port Washington, NY – Teaming up in a united front against the resurgence of Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposal for high density housing in single-family neighborhoods on Long Island, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jen DeSena and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino – along with a chorus of village mayors, state senators and other elected officials across Nassau and Suffolk counties – descended on the Port Washington Train Station, one of many railroad stations targeted by the Governor for the purposes of developing high-density housing, to protest the Governor’s “attack on the suburbs.” Also attending were Huntington Town Supervisor Ed Smyth; Smithtown Councilwoman Lisa Inzerillo (representing Supervisor Ed Wehrheim); Hempstead Town Councilman Dennis Dunne, Councilman Tom Muscarella, Councilman Chris Carini, Councilwoman Melissa Miller, Town Clerk Kate Murray and Receiver of Taxes Jeanine Driscoll; New York State Senators Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick and Steve Rhoads; New York State Assemblyman Brian Curran; Nassau County Legislators Howard Kopel, Tom McKevitt and John Giuffre; Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach, Floral Park Deputy Mayor Dr. Lynn Pombonyo and other elected officials.
Furthermore, officials announced that they will be taking the fight to the steps of the New York State Legislature in Albany later this month to call on the Governor to remove this suburb-killing legislation from her state budget proposal.
“This Long Island coalition of elected officials, community leaders and residents have not been silent in our opposition to the Governor’s plans to urbanize Long Island’s suburban communities, whether it be the Accessory Dwelling Unit plan of 2022 or the proposed state-mandated housing proposal that circumvents local control of housing development,” stated Supervisor Clavin. “Perhaps our voice has not been loud enough, so we’ll be taking the trip to Albany to make sure that the Governor hears Long Island loud and clear: ‘We want local control, not Hochul control!’”
“Governor Hochul’s housing plan will flood our communities with thousands of apartments and high-density zoning, turning our neighborhoods into overcrowded urban centers,” Supervisor DeSena said. “This proposal will negatively impact the environment, traffic, emergency services, utilities, and will result in packed classrooms in our schools. With only a month left until the state budget is due, we call on all New Yorkers to stand with us in demanding that our communities maintain local control, not Hochul control.”
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino stated, “This Housing Plan is a direct attack on our suburban neighborhoods as it would overcrowd classrooms, greatly increase traffic and cars parked on our streets, strain emergency services, and threaten the environment. This should upset every Long Islander and New Yorker for a long list of reasons. While some Albany leaders want to blame housing for the mass migration leaving our State, we all know the real reason people are fleeing New York is crushing taxes, rising crime and government overreach which threatens individual rights. We call on all New Yorkers to join the fight to keep single-family neighborhoods intact.”
Announced in the recent State of the State address, Governor Kathy Hochul outlined a plan that would force Long Island municipalities to allow massive development projects to ensure a targeted housing growth of three percent over three years. The developments would forcibly be approved through the Governor’s newly created “Fast Track Approval” program that comes into play when the municipality does not reach its 3 percent housing growth goal. The program, which is only available for multifamily projects, exists to override the authority of local zoning law, meaning multifamily housing will be approved in areas zoned for single-family housing.
Under the proposal, Nassau County – home to more than 478,000 housing units as reported in the U.S. Census (updated July 2021) – would beckon an estimated 14,340 additional housing units over the course of three years. What’s more, under the “Fast Track Approval” program, municipalities would be stripped of their ability to combat the unwanted housing developments. An influx of 14,340 additional housing units over three years in Nassau County, already one of the most densely populated counties in the world, would increase the amount of traffic on roadways, the number of children in schools and the strain on local infrastructure.
In addition to the proposed housing growth goals, Governor Hochul outlined a plan that includes a forcible rezoning of areas within a half-mile radius of Long Island Rail Road stations. This plan would upzone neighborhoods to increase population density and allow for large scale apartments to be developed. There are currently 58 Long Island Rail Road stations in Nassau County, which would equate to a total of 29 miles of rezoning, allowing for multifamily apartment developments to be built in the areas zoned for single-family residences. According to the outraged officials, this proposal is not in tune with the wishes of the area residents.
As if stripping “home rule” from municipalities was not enough, the plan also calls for an “expedited environmental review process” for projects built in the forcibly rezoned areas. As the elected officials mentioned, this is a serious concern for local governments as they are keyed in on the needs and balances of local neighborhoods – rushing unwanted projects could be vastly detrimental to the surrounding environment.
“The Governor’s plan threatens Long Island’s very survival as a suburb. That cannot be overstated,” added New York State Senator Steve Rhoads. “Her State-imposed housing density requirements would more than triple our existing housing in Nassau and quadruple our population, overwhelming our roads, sewers, water supply, schools, emergency services and other critical infrastructure while doing irreparable environmental harm. We will continue to fight on the State level and work with a growing and bi-partisan coalition of County, Town and Village officials to block this dangerous proposal and defend our quality of life.”
“I have said this time and time again since the Governor’s housing proposal was announced: this plan is simply not realistic for Nassau County. Stripping our municipalities of the autonomy to determine their fate is not the solution to the housing crisis OR the affordability crisis,” said Senator Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick. “To further stress already overcrowded school districts and overburdened infrastructure will cause Long Island to change beyond recognition. I will continue to oppose this budget so long as this policy of forcible rezoning remains part of it.”
“The Governor’s housing plan is out-of-touch with area residents and strips municipalities of their ability to control local zoning,” said Assemblyman Ed Ra. “By forcing high-density housing in areas already zoned for single family homes, Governor Hochul is transforming Nassau County into the sixth borough of New York City.”
“As a former mayor, I know how important it is for local municipalities and residents to maintain local control over zoning and development projects that are happening in and around our communities,” said New York State Assemblyman Brian Curran. “Residents want to be involved in the decision-making process to ensure any development fits the character of their neighborhoods, and the Governor’s plan would strip them of those rights. This high-density housing plan is completely out of touch with our suburban quality of life here on Long Island.”
“This is a key example of governing from a distance. Governor Kathy Hochul does not know what is best for Long Island and is openly infringing on municipal control of zoning regulations,” concluded Clavin. “This is an assault on the suburbs. We will not be quiet in the face of overdevelopment. We will take the fight to Albany and continue to advocate for Long Island neighbors.”