At a Westchester County Association breakfast Thursday, County Executive Rob Astorino reiterated his determination not to bend to the federal government’s demands on the county’s fair housing settlement if he judges that those demands go beyond the language in the 2009 agreement.
One of two major disputes with the federal government is the fight over Astorino’s veto of legislation prohibiting discrimination against tenants who pay rent with Section 8 or other government income. Astorino said the bill requires landlords to do business with the federal government.
“That’s where I draw the line,” he said.
That dispute will be decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals, which heard arguments in December.
The second dispute is over whether local zoning is keeping white towns white. Astorino questioned how zoning could be called exclusionary if the county has been able to get 300 units required under the settlement in the construction pipeline. All of the county’s towns met the minimum standard of having some zones that allow multifamily housing, he said.
He accuses the federal government of wanting him to tell Westchester towns that they must break up their zoning and have no restrictions on building height, density, acreage, number of bedrooms, etc. He cites a May 13, 2011 letter that lays out a series of zoning issues the county must “address” and a requirement that the county identify town zoning that will prompt legal action or the withdrawal of funding.
“I think it’s crazy and I’ve absolutely drawn the line,” he said. “We are not going to do what the federal government is trying to require us to do if it’s not in the agreement.”