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

 

Housing settlement: Sandy funds at risk


By DON HEPPNER

James Johnson, the court-appointed monitor overseeing the settlement between Westchester County and HUD, visited the Westchester County Board of Legislators on April 8 to discuss the state of the settlement. HUD informed the county on April 4 that it would withhold Hurricane Sandy disaster relief because of the county’s lack of progress in complying with the housing settlement.

HUD’s funds were slated to go to communities and individuals victimized by Hurricane Sandy.

Mr. Johnson’s visit to White Plains came after Friday’s ruling in favor of HUD from the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals that stated the county must create legislation that would compel landlords to accept government funds for payment of rent. Also at issue was the county’s analysis of impediments to fair housing and the marketing of affordable homes to those outside the county. Zoning has been an issue of contention between the county and HUD for almost two years. HUD has asked the county to identify exclusionary zoning and to plan strategies for overcome zoning impediments. The county contends it has studied zoning throughout the county and there are no exclusionary zoning laws to overcome.

In the past weeks, Mr. Johnson has gone directly to the municipalities in an effort to obtain what he described at the April 4 meeting as “relevant data or insight that might not have been considered.”

Mr. Johnson also requested the municipalities to correct inaccuracies in the findings by the county.

As part of the overall agreement between the county and HUD, the county is responsible for building at least 750 units in the target communities in the next seven years.

“In July of 2011, the parties came to me with two areas of dispute; one was zoning and the other was the source of income,” Mr. Johnson said. “Over a period of the last 20 months we have been working on both of those issues.”

He said that while the source of income issue “has worked its way up and down the courts,” the zoning issue is one that yet to be resolved. “One of the things that has been important to me throughout is to make sure that before I apply the law, I understand the facts,” said Mr. Johnson.

Legislators also discussed whether the county or the towns are responsible for exclusionary zoning, if it exists in Westchester. Mr. Johnson said that if exclusionary zoning exists, the county must initiate legal action to remedy the situation.

Democratic legislator Michael Kaplowitz quoted from the monitor’s statement written on Nov. 17, 2011, which said, “It is the monitor’s view that litigation is a powerful lever the county may exercise to bring municipal governments into compliance, and that the county must identify the types of zoning practices that would, if not remedied by the municipality, lead the county to pursue legal action.”

Mr. Kaplowitz balked at the possibility of the county suing towns for zoning legislation it had no part in creating. Mr. Kaplowitz said the county “should not be the sword to slay zoning that, in fact, we have no responsibility for.” 

He asked Mr. Johnson why the county should be responsible for rules it has no control over.

“Even if I was inclined to answer your question, I couldn’t,” Mr. Johnson replied.

Board of legislators chairman Ken Jenkins said it was “very clear” there could not be any legal action by the county against individual Westchester towns without the authorization of the Legislature.

Legislature vice chairman Lyndon Williams, a Democrat representing Mount Vernon, said he took a different view than Mr. Jenkins on the possibility of a lawsuit initiated by the county against a municipality. He said the county might find it necessary to sue individual municipalities in order to ensure that the settlement terms are met.

Mr. Williams said it could be difficult to resolve the zoning issue if the county would not use all of its weapons, which could include legal action, to enforce the settlement.

Republican Sheila Marcotte, District 10 including Eastchester, New Rochelle and Tuckahoe, said the conversation between HUD and the county is like a “merry-go-round.” She said the county had fulfilled its obligation to study zoning throughout the county.

In doing so, according to Ms. Marcotte, the county went outside its ranks and hired Professor John Nolon of Pace Law School to look for possible exclusionary zoning, but he found none. “The county comes back to you and to HUD and says we cannot find any exclusionary zoning, and you guys keep saying you have to identify exclusionary zoning,” she said to Mr. Johnson. “When does it end? Does there come a time when you point to a municipality and say there is exclusionary zoning?”

“I understand that Mr. Nolon undertook an analysis, but that analysis posits a different view of legal obligations and I think gives short shrift to federal requirements,” Mr. Johnson said. “I have to apply the various federal laws to have the next level of conversation with the county and the municipalities.”

Mr. Johnson said that he and his staff are in the process of their own studies of municipal zoning laws. He indicated that there was evidence of exclusionary zoning in at least one town, although he declined to identify the community or the alleged infraction. “A part of my task would be to make that assessment and apply federal standards to the facts,” Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Johnson said that affirmative marketing of affordable housing by the county continues to be problematic, but said he hopes to work through those issues with the administration in the next few days.

He said the consent agreement involves more than just “bricks and mortar” and that the constructed housing must be affirmatively marketed to areas that would include people living outside the area.



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APRIL 12, 2013

‘Pops, Patriots and Fireworks’

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  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

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

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


Katonah

  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

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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