The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York


HUD withholds funds, citing zoning failures


The Department of Housing and Urban Development is withholding $14 million in community block development grants to Westchester County municipalities after rejecting the county’s plans for fair housing in the county. These fund include funds for addiction prevention, shelter for the needy, sidewalks and other municipal projects including some in Bedford and Mount Kisco.

HUD says that the county’s “exclusionary zoning” practices fail to provide housing options for minority and poor families in the region. “It’s not a question of what HUD has found,” Adam Glantz, spokesperson for HUD, said. “It’s a question of the county failing to develop a strategy to overcome exclusionary zoning practices.”

But what is exclusionary zoning according to HUD, and how does it prevent new fair housing units?

County legislator Peter Harckham said that state, county and city regulations have “stymied” economic and residential growth of market rate and luxury homes in northern Westchester for years.

“It’s just as exclusionary for high-end housing as it is for affordable housing,” he said. “There is no infrastructure up here.”

The same environmental rules would apply to new fair housing developments in the county. “Unless somebody wants to pony up $100 million to solve northern Westchester’s wastewater issues and another half-billion dollars to address our stormwater issues, nobody is talking reality here,” he said. “We should continue to do small-scale development, which we have always done.”

Mr. Glantz said that the types of zoning practices that the county should be assessing include restrictions that limit or prohibit multifamily housing development; limitations on the size of a development; restrictions on lot size or other density requirements; and limitations on townhouse development.  

“In developing its strategy, the county has to identify the impact of these zoning practices and whether they may be exclusionary,” said Mr. Glantz. “It must then develop a process for notifying and working with the municipalities to overcome the particular zoning practices that prove to be exclusionary.”

Mr. Glantz said that restrictive zoning practices are those that “may restrict, in some way, multifamily development, as well as the size of the development.”

“Size refers to the required land area per dwelling unit, which may bring into play local ordinances, such as restrictions on setbacks, coverage, height, floor area ratios, etc.,” Mr. Glantz said. “Any of these restrictions/limitations must be analyzed to determine whether they have an exclusionary impact.” 

Westchester County Legislator Pete Harckham said that environmental concerns inhibit large-scale housing in the area. “Let’s get into reality, everybody needs to get into reality,” he said “If there is no wastewater infrastructure, large multifamily units can’t be built. Unless HUD is going to pony up half-a-billion dollars, they are going to have to sue the DEP and the DEC to get large-scale development.”

Mr. Harckham said that he has invited HUD to come to the area and give them a tour of the watershed and familiarize them with the rules of the watershed.

At an interview in early July, county executive Rob Astorino said that representatives of HUD had come to Westchester from Washington, D.C., for less than a day, seen parts of Westchester, and returned to the capital. He said he had urged HUD to conduct a much more thorough review of impacted communities.

On Wednesday, Mr. Harckham said that he would invite representatives of HUD to northern Westchester again. He said he would introduce them to state and county septic regulations, the basis of many of area zoning rules.

Mr. Harckham said there is no sewage infrastructure to support new large-scale multi-family units. “I don’t know when the last time Mr. Glantz looked at a sewer map was,” Mr. Harckham said. “There is no sewage treatment plant within 20 miles. The only solution is to build individual sewage treatment plants for each development.”

Mr. Harckham said that the cost for a sewage plant at a 60-unit project in Cortlandt was $1.3 million. “Do you know how many units we could build for $1.3 million?” said Mr. Harckham. “Not only is it not practical to build a large development of multifamily units, it is not legally able to happen.”

Mr. Harckham said that stringent environmental regulations prevent or limit housing in the watershed, which comprises much of the northern Westchester communities in dispute.

He said that wastewater regulations dictated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, along with state health department septic tank guidelines and watershed protections, also serve to deter large-scale development. “There is no place for the wastewater to go,” he said.

When asked if relaxed municipal zoning regulations could have an adverse impact on the water quality in the local reservoirs, Ed Timber, a spokesperson for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, would not comment. 

Mr. Harckham said that the DEP “might not want to comment,” since they do not want to get into a legal battle with HUD.   

Mr. Harckham said that the county executive has been wrong in his approach to HUD on much of the debate that has gone on between the county and HUD. “But we are in agreement that the reality is that no-one can build large-scale development in the watershed. It’s just not doable.”

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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York


Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

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Bedford Village

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  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

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  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

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Cross River

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  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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