The town of Mamaroneck recently released a response to the report by the monitor overseeing the implementation of the fair housing settlement between Westchester and the federal government detailing its efforts to provide opportunities for new affordable housing. Mamaroneck was one of seven communities the monitor found to have exclusionary zoning that will have to be addressed under the settlement. Click here for a story on the monitor’s report and read on for Mamaroneck’s response.
Town of Mamaroneck Housing
The Town of Mamaroneck respectfully disagrees with the Housing Monitor’s conclusion that the Town of Mamaroneck’s zoning code does not provide meaningful opportunities for affordable housing and, when viewed in light of applicable state and federal law, are exclusionary.
In May of this year Supervisor Nancy Seligson responded to a letter from the Monitor outlining the Town’s history in the area of affordable housing and ongoing efforts to evaluate what more could be done. In 1994 the Town was one of the first communities on the Sound Shore to create a municipal housing authority. As a result, 54 units of affordable rental housing were constructed. The Town, since 1976 has administered a Section 8 Housing Voucher Program that today administers close to 650 vouchers creating a mechanism to provide fair and affordable housing throughout the Town and elsewhere.
On September 18, 2013, the Town Board will conduct a public hearing on a local law which if enacted, will amend the Town’s Business (B) and Service Business (SB) districts (consisting of approx. 54 acres) to allow multi-family housing as of right in the B district and multi-family housing by special permit in the SB district. The amendment will require, under certain circumstances that some residential units be Fair and Affordable within the meaning of the Westchester County Fair and Affordable Housing Model Ordinance. The Town’s consultant has estimated that the rezoning may lead to as many as 300 housing units being built over time.
At its July 24, 2013 meeting, the Town Board discussed a draft for a Town-wide housing ordinance modeled after the Westchester County Fair and Affordable Housing Model Ordinance. The Town Board instructed its attorney to make certain revisions to the draft in time for the next Town Board meeting which will be held on August 14. The Town Board is committed to conducting a public hearing on the adoption of a Housing Model Ordinance for the Town.
Local governments cannot create more land. The municipal zoning code in the Town has evolved over time to meet the needs of the community. When changing zoning, there must be a deliberate and thoughtful process that considers all of the implications of such changes to the environment, local schools and the community as a whole which is why the Town Board first studied the potential impact of an amendment to the B and SB zoning districts.
Since the Town Board’s discussion occurred only days before the Monitor issued his report, the Town believes that when preparing this report, the Monitor was unaware of the discussion had at the Town Board’s July 24th work session. Hence his report could not (and therefore, did not) consider the Town’s latest efforts and progress in dealing with this issue.
The Housing Monitor appears to hinge much of his findings on the Town’s alleged failure to construct fair and affordable housing units as proposed in the 2005 Rutgers University Study. The Monitor’s evaluation ignores all other efforts by the Town to facilitate fair and affordable housing.
Continually the housing monitor has referred to the 2005 Rutgers University report that suggested the construction of 125 units of fair and affordable housing in the Town of Mamaroneck. At no time did the authors of this report meet with Town officials to discuss how the number of suggested housing units was derived nor was the report ever officially adopted by any governmental agency.
The Town of Mamaroneck is interested in providing additional fair and affordable housing and has invited the County and developers to investigate potential parcels identified in the Town. It appears that the high land prices in the Town have prevented any developer from moving forward with a project . In the interim, the Town will continue its efforts to amend the zoning and adopt a Town-wide housing ordinance.