County pols slam Hochul plan for state say in zoning, more housing

County pols slam Hochul plan for state say in zoning, more housing
Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena speaks at the Port Washington LIRR station. (Photo by Robert Pelaez)

Nassau County officials stood outside the Port Washington LIRR station Thursday, calling for “local control, not Hochul control” in response to the governor’s proposed plan to address New York’s housing shortage.

Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino headlined the slew of elected officials present at the press conference to call on the state Legislature to oppose the proposed legislation they believe targets Long Island’s suburban lifestyle.

Local governments would have three years to rezone areas within a half mile of Metropolitan Transportation Authority rail stations, including the Long Island Rail Road, under the proposed housing plan.

“Gov. Hochul’s housing plan will flood our communities with thousands of apartments and high-density zoning, turning our neighborhoods into overcrowded urban centers,” DeSena said. “This proposal will negatively impact the environment, traffic, emergency services, utilities, and will result in packed classrooms in our schools.”

If the proposed legislation were to pass, Clavin said, the state would have control of zoning for 29 miles of area in Nassau County within a half mile of its 58 train stations. Recent villages and local municipalities, he said, have approved transit-oriented developments without direct state interference and it should remain that way.

“This is a key example of governing from a distance,” Clavin continued. “Gov. Kathy Hochul does not know what is best for Long Island and is openly infringing on municipal control of zoning regulations. This is an assault on the suburbs.”

Hochul unveiled her plan to build 800,000 new homes over the next decade to address the state’s housing shortage in January. Included in the New York Housing Compact are local participation requirements and incentives to achieve housing growth along with requiring municipalities with MTA stations to rezone for higher-density residential development.

Hempstead officials estimated that more than 14,000 additional housing units would be established in Nassau County as a result of Hochul’s proposed legislation. Nassau and Suffolk counties, under the plan, would be required to grow housing stock by 3% every three years along with downstate areas such as Westchester and Putnam Counties, while upstate New York would be required to grow by 1%.

Data from the 2020 Census showed there were more than 78,000 households in North Hempstead. A total of 2,364 housing units would have to be constructed in the town over the next three years to meet Hochul’s 3% goal.

Nassau’s population has also decreased by more than 32,000 since 1970, with 1.35 million residents reported in the 2020 Census. DeSena and the six North Hempstead councilmembers sent a letter to Hochul in January urging the governor to have local officials maintain control of zoning the areas they were directly elected to govern.

“It is fundamentally essential that we, as local officials, maintain the ability to represent our residents,” officials said in the letter. “Local governments must maintain a certain level of autonomy when it comes to appropriately preserving the suburban aesthetic of their communities.”

In 2022, Hochul rolled out a $25 billion, five-year housing plan aimed at creating and preserving 100,000 affordable homes throughout New York, 10,000 of which would have support services for vulnerable populations.

Hochul also called last year for changing zoning laws for Accessory Dwelling Units, which include basements, attics and garages, but it was criticized by Long Island officials. 

Proponents of the legislation have claimed establishing ADUs could help senior citizens on fixed incomes remain in their homes, enable younger people to afford homes and be a new source of income for homeowners who live in high-cost areas.


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