Governor Hochul rolls back zoning proposal


Gov. Kathy Hochul has pulled a proposal from her 2022-23 state budget that would have required local governments to allow an expansion of apartments in single-family neighborhoods. 

Hochul had put this proposal in her January budget before the Legislature. It has been widely criticized by local elected officials. Some argued that so-called accessory dwelling units would put a strain on Long Island resources and that it would be an end to suburbia. Hochul, however, saw it as a way to potentially alleviate the state’s affordable-housing crisis. 

State Assemblyman Charles Lavine, a Democrat, said he doesn’t know who convinced Hochul to put the proposal into the budget. He gives her credit for listening.

“My obligation is to represent my district and this provision wouldn’t accommodate anything for the 13th,” he said. “We have to have more affordable housing but ADU’s would not have helped with affordable housing.”

Glen Cove Mayor Pam Panzenbeck, a Republican, said she was pleased with the governor’s decision. “While I fully support making affordable housing available to residents that need it, it cannot and should not be done through a state-wide mandate without regard to whether local conditions warrant it or would be able to sustain it,” she said. “Glen Covers know what Glen Cove needs better than New York state does.” 

State Assemblyman Michael Montesano said he was pleased. He had written letters to the governor against the proposal and encouraged his constituents to do so too. 

“She listened to everyone and took it out of the budget because it doesn’t belong there,” Montesano, a Republican, said. “Something like this would need public hearings. She alluded that she would form a committee of stakeholders that would include not-for profits who create housing, municipalities and real estate brokers. They will have ideas how to create housing.”

Montesano said he believes that the governor put the proposal in the budget because the bill to allow for the expansion of apartments in single-family neighborhoods introduced in the Senate and Assembly are not popular. “They asked the governor to include it in the budget,” Montesano said. “I don’t think she realized what would happen.”

The legislation would have essentially removed “home rule,” meaning that local governments could not determine zoning based on the character of the community and the wishes of those in their jurisdiction.

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Democrat who is running for governor, had decried Hochul’s plan from the get-go. He described her decision to pull it from the budget as “one small victory,” adding that there are many battles ahead.

“We successfully stopped Governor Hochul’s radical proposal from being passed in the budget, but we’re not done yet,” Suozzi said. “Now we must stop her and the state Legislature from passing this misguided legislation during the Albany legislative session.”

But Montesano said he doesn’t think the bill will get to the floor for a vote in either governmental bodies. If Hochul does become governor he hopes she will follow through with her commitment to forming the committee. 

“I was happy she listened to reason and then went and looked,” he said. “If she maintains that as governor it would be great. This is what a governor should do.”

County Legislator Tom McKevitt, a Republican from East Meadow, found the ADU proposal in the budget on page 126 of 5,000 pages. “We’re putting forth the word to the governor and to state representatives,” McKevitt said. “Do not try this again, do not put it in there, we’re going to be watching and protecting our communities.”

Glen Cove would have changed for the worse, Panzenbeck said, had the proposal been approved. “It goes without saying that the ADU bill would have had a detrimental effect on traffic, parking, and quality of life,” she said. “Our infrastructure would have been strained and the schools would have had to accommodate additional students, thereby driving costs up.” 

State Senator Jim Gaughran, a Democrat, said he is thankful that the governor was willing to work with local government. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but we can — and must — support our municipalities as they work to build more housing for New Yorkers across the state,” he added.

If Hochul didn’t pull the proposal, she risked the passage of the entire budget. If the spending plan is approved by the Legislature, it will take effect April 1 of this year.

“I’ve known Kathy Hochul from the day she was elected lieutenant governor,” Lavine said. “She is reasonable, rational, intelligent and she does know how to listen to what people say.”

Brendan Carpenter contributed
to this article.