Mayor, Mineola board fight to keep local power

Mayor, Mineola board fight to keep local power
Mineola Mayor Paul Pereira gives his report during the Feb. 1 board of trustees meeting. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

Mineola Mayor Paul Pereira said the Board of Trustees is against any proposals that would take away local power in response to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed budget, which includes a plan that would require the village and Long Island to help solve the state’s housing shortage.

Hochul unveiled her program to build 800,000 new homes in New York over the next decade during her Jan. 10 State of the State address.

“What the governor’s proposal would do is eliminate our ability to control our zoning in our village,” Pereira said during the Feb. 1 Board of Trustees meeting. “A developer that comes into the village and is told ‘no’ by the village would then go to a state agency in Albany where they can essentially override our decisions.”

The mayor’s remarks were reiterated by other members of the board, with Deputy Mayor Janine Sartori calling it a “quality-of-life issue” and Trustee Donna Solosky urging residents to reach out to their local elected officials.

“I recommend you educate yourself on these issues and contact your local legislators and show them you are against it,” Sartori said.

Included in the plan is allowing housing proposals that are denied at the local level to go to a “state housing approval board” or the courts. 

Pereira said the proposals represent Hochul’s “doubling down” on similar policies she tried to implement last year, which were centered around zoning laws for Accessory Dwelling Units, which include basements, attics and garages, among others.

The proposals then would have created legislation that would require an amnesty program to legalize existing ADUs if they were brought into compliance with the code. 

Pereira said the village has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to tackling the housing issue in Nassau County, reiterating it was done through local determinations and building what makes sense and what works in the village. 

In December, the board unanimously approved two building overlay districts, which gives the village more flexibility when considering future developments, on part of Jericho Turnpike and downtown. 

“Many of these things the governor has mentioned we’ve done, entertained or created overlay districts to do,” Pereira said. “However, we did it on our terms with our ability to make those decisions on what projects fit because no one knows our community better than we do.”

Nassau and Suffolk counties 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% under Hochul’s plan. Pereira said he is seeking clarification on whether the village would get credit for any development that has been done in recent years or be starting from scratch.

Pereira said he reached out with his concerns to state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola), a former mayor of the village, state Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown) and state Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square), saying he believes all three stand with the village.

The next Mineola Board of Trustees meeting was slated for Wednesday, Feb. 15.

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