Lawler’s roundtable on Hochul housing plan, in 6 quotes

March 8, 2023

The Journal News

By Peter D. Kramer

Local officials gathered with the congressman to raise concerns about the governor’s Housing Compact

After more than an hour behind closed doors on Tuesday, Republican Congressman Mike Lawler and a bipartisan group of elected officials from the Lower Hudson Valley spilled out onto the front lawn of North Castle Town Hall and did two things together.

They shivered in the cold. And they declared Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Housing Compact was bad for local control, bad for the environment and bad for their communities.

Speakers derided Hochul’s call to rezone a half-mile-radius area around MTA train stations to permit high-density housing while softening environmental review. The impact of such housing could further strain infrastructure, schools and public safety, they said. And the governor’s $250 million for infrastructure improvements was woefully short of what is needed, they said.

Lawler, a freshman congressman tailed for the day by a film crew from the Showtime series “The Circus,” said each leader acknowledged the need for housing, but not at the expense of local control.

Here are 6 quotes from the press conference that represent the hurdle Hochul faces when trying to sell her housing plan here:

Congressman Mike Lawler: ‘Local control is a bedrock’

“Local control is a bedrock in New York state,” Lawler said. “Our supervisors and town boards, our mayors, our village trustees, along with the planning boards and the zoning boards, they make decisions on development and what is in the best interests of their communities with input from the residents. This plan would basically upend that. It would upend the constitutional rights of our local municipalities and force a one-size-fits-all approach to housing. It’s unsustainable. It’s wrong and it violates the rights of these municipalities.

Assemblyman Matt Slater: ‘Local control, not Hochul control’

“We know the $250 million in infrastructure investment being proposed by Gov. Hochul is a joke,” said Matt Slater, a new Assemblyman and former Yorktown supervisor. “It’s almost insulting. But nothing’s more insulting than a one-size-fits-all approach. I said it before. I’ll keep saying it. We want local control, not Hochul control.”

State Sen. Bill Weber: ‘Bad for our local municipalities’

Rockland Republican State Sen. Bill Weber said: “We’re going to work as hard as we can in Albany to make sure that we galvanize the support of our senators and assemblymen to really come out against this entire proposal because it’s bad for our local municipalities.”

Ossining Supervisor Elizabeth Feldman: ‘Sit down with each municipality’

Ossining Supervisor Elizabeth Feldman, a Democrat, said: “The state needs to have a task force to sit down with each municipality, understanding where their challenges are, and work with them to achieve the affordable housing that all of us want. It’s irresponsible just to say ‘You have to do it, and we’re not giving you any tools.’ To sit with us and develop the tools is what we really need and to respect our environment and protect it. And especially our watershed, which is irreplaceable.”

Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann: Solve local problems at the local level

Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann, a Republican, said: “Our local land-use boards are our own neighbors, they’re our own residents. They live within the community. They judge and they listen to the community. They’re appointed for longer terms than the elected officials, and that’s for a reason: So that they’re not subject to the political whims of whoever’s in power. … This proposal by the governor works completely against that. So we oppose it. I look forward to working with the congressman and with all the other electeds here to make sure that whatever is done in New York is done to protect our environment, protect our community, and to bring about the right results.”

North Castle Supervisor Michael J. Schiliro: ‘Think about the impact’

North Castle Supervisor Michael Schiliro, a Democrat, said: “(Near) the North White Plains train station, there are neighborhoods in that community that, already dense, would allow 6,000 more units to be built, 50 units per acre. … Think about the impact on infrastructure, the environment, our schools that are already bursting at the seams, our fire departments, our police departments. Our sewer plant downtown, if we had to increase the capacity, (would cost) $20 million. … We want to work with the governor because we share a lot of goals, but one size can’t fit all. And to have New York State have oversight on local zoning and all of our communities is a disservice to the people that have built these towns and the residents that put us here.”

Republican officials who attended but did not speak included: North Salem Supervisor Warren Lucas, Somers Supervisor Robert Scorrano, Yorktown Supervisor Tom Diana, Carmel Supervisor Michael Cazzari, and Mount Pleasant Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi.

Elected Democrats who attended but did not speak included Haverstraw Supervisor Howard Phillips, Tarrytown Mayor Karen Brown, and West Haverstraw Mayor Robert D’Amelio.