Thursday, August 26, 2010


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Regarding Harmon re-zoning: Mr. Murray now has concerns about mandated affordable housing and believes that the village can exempt a special permit based on negative tax implications; this is not allowed however, under NYS law and could prove problematic with HUD in the future.

8/26 Gazette Letter

The Harmon Commercial Development Committee (as it was called at the time) delivered its final Harmon zoning change recommendations to then Mayor Schmidt on November 17, 2008. Since that time Westchester County unexpectedly lost the widely publicized Anti-Discrimination lawsuit and is now obligated under a settlement to build 750 affordable and subsidized housing units in the next few years.

Mandated affordable housing can wreak havoc on the residential property and school tax equation, particularly in a village like Croton with a very small commercial tax base.

On October 12, 2005, then Governor Pataki signed the Affordable Housing Property Tax Assessment Bill into law. This law requires local assessors to assess subsidized housing projects under the Income Method approach, excluding tax credits, subsidized mortgage financing, and project grants. On January 7, 2008, the Erie County Supreme Court applied this statute for the first time to a case involving a 24-unit subsidized housing development which resulted in a reduction in tax assessment from $220,000 to just $6,158.

I am a firm believer that providing zoning incentives for market rate mixed use development is the correct approach for attracting investment to Harmon. However, I recognize that the Anti-Discrimination Settlement, coupled with the Affordable Housing Property Tax Assessment Law discussed above has exponentially increased the chances of mixed use development that will not cover its own municipal and school costs. Any new development that does not cover its own costs increases the tax burden for everyone else and runs counter to the intentions of the Harmon zoning change recommendations.

As a result, I propose leaving the mixed use incentives (.8 FAR, 3rd story in roofline, etc) in the Harmon Zoning Law but having them be subject to a Special Permit by the Village Board. This will give the Village Board the legal right to examine the tax implications (as well as traffic, parking and other concerns raised by petitioners) of any proposed project on a case by case basis while still providing the incentives for market rate mixed use development that could improve the area and provide tax relief to the disproportionate and overburdened residential tax base in Croton.