Action Item: Below is a sample letter that you can send to your local and state representatives.
Dear <representative name>,
Governor Hochul’s proposed “housing compact” mandates what is effectively a “one-size-fits-all” unreasonable and heavy-handed high-density development in our area and across the entire state. Eliminating environmental reviews and overriding the zoning authority of local governments is not the answer to providing more affordable housing.
The governor’s initial proposal called for municipalities within 15 miles of New York City, which includes Oyster Bay and most of Nassau County, to amend their “land use tools” to allow for at least 25 housing units per acre within a half mile of any railroad station. But the current budget proposal increases that to 50 units per acre. It also stipulates that each municipality that fails to meet target goals of a 3-percent housing increase within three years would face penalties that essentially would have a state board taking control of local zoning decisions and substituting their determination for the voice of the local representatives most directly associated with and most directly informed of a community, its infrastructure and desired quality of life.
Even using the 25 units per acre formula, the Village of Mill Neck, with less than 400 homes now, would have to add 588 new housing units. Oyster Bay hamlet would have to add 2,129 units. Locust Valley 2,234 and Syosset 7,409. Not only would this density reduce open space, it would strain our aquifer system to the point of increasing the likelihood of saltwater intrusion (which is already happening in the Great Neck area) and could close existing water wells. The many residents in our area reliant on their own private wells would be left without a source of water altogether.
At the same time, all these units would create more septic waste. This could overwhelm the Oyster Bay Sewage Treatment plant, and for areas outside the sewage district, require thousands of septic systems that could add more nitrogen to our bays and harbors, which could lead to algal blooms, fish kills and damage to the wetlands that filter stormwater. The development would also increase the amount of impervious surfaces, such as pavement for parking all those additional cars, that will create more stormwater runoff and further deteriorate our waterways.
Even worse, the proposal calls for eliminating environmental reviews so that these projects can be fast-tracked. If anything requires a careful environmental review, it is exactly this kind of development. Finally, it is wrong for the State Legislature to enact this kind of sweeping change as part of the budget process and not through separate legislation.