Westchester homeowners wary of state plan to grow affordable housing
A group of worried Westchester homeowners say the governor's plan to grow affordable housing sets a dangerous precedent.
About 50 people packed the Chappaqua train station Saturday to rally against part of the governor's budget proposal and legislation that would require local governments to allow homeowners to build accessory dwelling units, or ADUs – small apartments as part of their homes.
"We have a housing crisis in New York,” said state Sen. Pete Harckham.
The lawmaker sponsors a bill similar to the concept in the governor's budget proposal. He says there are already thousands of illegal ADUs across the state and money is needed to bring them up to code.
"Our seniors can't stay,” said Harckham. “Our young people can't move back. Our workforce can't live in the communities in which they work. We need more affordable housing options. This is a low-density way to do it."
Many of the plan’s detractors acknowledge they're willing to work with Harckham's plan but not Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan – saying they worry it overrides local zoning. Some homeowners say it could be a strain on resources.
"We need to look at our schools,” added New Castle Town Supervisor Lisa Katz. “We need to look at septics. We need to look at parking issues on our streets. We need to make sure safety vehicles on our streets can get through."
The governor has said in the past she knows it's a sensitive issue, but also that she wants to find the right answer people will embrace. Some at the rally feel her plan actually gives more local control.
"It's my home rule,” said Cynthia Schames, who was in attendance. “It's my home. I own this property and I have the right to do with it what I want."
Harckham called the “ADUs will destroy our neighbors” rhetoric from rallygoers “a scare tactic” and that the state's suburbs are the most segregated in the entire country.
Several homeowners admit they don't oppose affordable housing. Many of them say their communities already include ADUs. They just want to be able to manage them according to what's right for them.