Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, reiterated Thursday that he will fight the county board’s efforts to resolve one of the major conflicts in the implementation of the 2009 fair housing settlement.
Astorino said in a statement that the plan amounted to rewriting the settlement and handing the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development the power to dismantle local zoning. Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz has said he is trying to bring the county into compliance with the settlement within the existing terms.
Kaplowitz has asked the court monitor overseeing the settlement, Jim Johnson of Debevoise & Plimpton, to conduct an analysis of local zoning that would fill holes HUD has identified in the county’s analysis of whether local zoning excludes low income and minority residents, even unintentionally. Because of what HUD says is a deficient analysis, the agency has withheld about $20 million in federal community development grants from the county since 2011.
Astorino said the plan would allow HUD to replace the county’s analysis with its own conclusions.
“This plan puts local control of zoning in extreme jeopardy,” Astorino said. “If not stopped, HUD will hit the daily double: Washington bureaucrats get control of local zoning and local elected officials and communities are left defenseless.”
Astorino also objected to the monitor’s proposal to use consultants from Pratt Institute, who conducted an earlier analysis that found seven communities have exclusionary zoning under state precedents. He said the analysis had many errors.
County Attorney Robert Meehan sent a letter to Johnson Thursday saying that his analysis would only be a recommendation to the county and would have to be approved by the county before it would replace the current analysis.
Astorino also sent letters to the communities targeted for affordable housing in the settlement asking officials to contact their legislators.