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Patterns for Progress Says "Home Rule" on Housing Developments has Limits

Two new single-family homes going up in the Town of Wallkill

NEWBURGH- Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress has released a new research brief that examines the strategies, requirements, and legal precedents utilized by New York’s neighboring states to produce affordable housing for their residents.  The report – Local Zoning, Regional Needs – outlines how other states have preserved the core intent of home rule while also requiring their towns to allow for the development of diverse housing that meets statewide and regional needs.

The report examines the underlying laws, regulations, and legal precedents related to zoning and housing in the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.  All those states are so-called “home rule” states, except Vermont.

According to the report, New York stands out as lagging in its efforts to create statewide policies that address the severe underproduction of housing in its municipalities.  There is longstanding case law in New York that requires local governments to diversify their zoning to protect “the greater public interest that regional needs be met.”  However, these legal precedents have not inspired mandates or programs in New York like they have in our neighboring states.

For example, in Massachusetts, developers are entitled to appeal municipal decisions and all municipalities served by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, including those directly adjacent to those municipalities, establish at least one multi-family zoning district within one-half mile of rail, bus, subway, or ferry stops.

In New Jersey, municipalities are required to provide their fair share of affordable housing based on population and economic-growth trends that are reassessed every 10 years.

“Proposals to create statewide housing policies in New York are often decried as attacks on home rule,” Pattern CEO Adam Bosch said.  “But our research found that practically every state surrounding New York balances home rule with reasonable mandates to diversify zoning and meet regional housing needs.  Our neighbors prove that states can allow towns to govern and design themselves, while also requiring those towns to allow for certain housing that meets the greater public interest.”

Source: Mid-Hudson News

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