State proposes another misguided housing plan


For the third straight year, Gov. Kathy Hochul and progressive lawmakers who control Albany are attempting to advance a housing plan that would usurp local zoning laws that were put in place decades ago to protect the health, safety and character of the suburban communities we cherish on Long Island and throughout the state.

This time around, they have rebranded their prior ill-fated New York Housing Compact initiative as the Faith-Based Affordable Housing Act. If enacted, this proposal would grant thousands of houses of worship and nonprofits statewide the ability to develop high-density housing as high as five stories on property they own without any local zoning approvals. Here in Nassau County alone, that encompasses some 1,100 properties, many of which are next to or near single-family homes.

Disturbingly, this latest effort by Hochul and supportive state lawmakers closely mirrors recent actions in California led by another progressive, Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed an executive order in January that allows the state to lease its land for housing development while bypassing local zoning ordinances. In addition, last fall California legislators passed a law allowing churches, synagogues and mosques to build affordable housing on their property by right, even if local zoning prohibits this type of housing.

For generations, residents have left the city and come to the suburbs for the quality of life, open space, less dense housing, good schools, and safe streets. The quality of life in our communities has remained consistent for decades, primarily because residents demanded policies that protected against overdevelopment, and local government had the final say on zoning matters.

Long Island relies on a fragile sole-source aquifer for our drinking water. Increasing housing density will endanger that water supply, overcrowd our schools, and increase the strain on our critical infrastructure, from sewage treatment to the supply of gas and electricity to fire and police services. There will be more cars on the road and more congestion, along with the environmental consequences that flow from that congestion.

With the cost of education averaging $36,000 per student annually on Long Island, a new influx of students resulting from this high-density housing plan will inevitably lead to higher taxes and fewer programs for students, all this during a period when the state is proposing school aid cuts across Long Island. Ironically, since religious institutions and nonprofits are tax-exempt, there will be no additional property taxes generated from any new housing development on these properties to ease that added burden.

We all understand that there needs to be more affordable housing on Long Island, especially for our seniors. However, this latest radical proposal will forever erode our suburban quality of life, which I believe is exactly what some progressive urban lawmakers intend.

The fact is, Long Island has been gradually transforming, with more transit-oriented multi-housing development in communities like Farmingdale, Lynbrook, Mineola, Patchogue, Rockville Centre, Valley Stream and others. Rather than accept this gradual progress, the state is trying to force a radical transformation. The one-size-fits-all approach ignores the fact that every community is different, and what makes sense in one community may make no sense in another.

Recently, a large contingent of officials from village, town, county and state government joined school board members, civic leaders and concerned area residents at a news conference in Herricks to demand that Hochul and state lawmakers finally put an end to this relentless attack on suburbia. I stand united with these efforts, and will continue to fight against it every step of the way.

Together, we simply cannot stand by and allow this to happen. It is critically important for your voices to be heard. I encourage you to call the governor’s office and other state representatives to tell them to stop trying to override local government and local zoning. I urge you to contact Gov. Hochul, at (518) 474-8390, and your state legislators to express your opposition to this latest housing initiative. You can also go to to submit comments.

Bill Gaylor represents Nassau County’s 14th Legislative District.