Saturday, June 8, 2019


Thank you Croton United for the link.

June 07, 2019--The following letter was published in this week’s issue of the Gazette.

To the editor:

It is unfortunate that the Croton Board of Trustees has conducted the rezoning process in secret, but since the politicians have decided to have rental apartments in Harmon and along Riverside Avenue it is a good time to have an honest conversation even if our politicians don’t want our input.

The first question is whether Croton simply wants lots of apartments, or whether we want “affordable” apartments. There is a legitimate concern about the latter category, and it has been an issue in Croton for many decades. It is the reason that the late Roland Bogardus (Mayor from 1983-1989) created the Croton Housing Task Force. As far back as 1992, it was discussed as one of the reasons for revising the accessory apartment law. It was why we have Symphony Knoll and why we have a requirement in the village code at section 230-48.

Contrary to what has been implied by some of our trustees, the fact is that affordable housing is precisely regulated in Croton as to eligibility. Even the square footage and number of occupants of each apartment is regulated by a law passed by the Croton Board of Trustees.

“Affordable” has a specific meaning and is defined in Croton’s village code. It involves the application of a formula which takes into account the median income in the Westchester County Metropolitan Statistical Area; it cannot exceed 60% of that number. For 2019, that means a maximum household income of $57,570 for a couple. If they have a child, it would be a max of $65,000. The max rent would be $1,444 for a couple, or $1,625 for a 3 person household. If they rent a 1-bedroom unit, it must have a minimum floor area of 675 square feet or a 2-bedroom must have 750 square feet.

“Affordable apartments” is hardly a laissez-faire generic term in Croton.

Mr. Olver (The Gazette, week of May 9/15) indicates that the Board of Trustees wants to have enough apartments constructed that the market price becomes affordable. I doubt that there is enough land in Croton to make that happen. Under current village law, developers must set aside only 10 percent of the units for “affordable” housing. So if the goal of the Board of Trustees is even a mere 50 “affordable” units, under current law it would require construction of as many as 500 new apartments.

If Croton wants affordable apartments, it will be necessary to take a more direct route.

Assuming there is agreement on the need to construct “affordable” units in Croton, the second question is: Who are these apartments intended for?

1 comment:

  1. Another good one from April

    To the Editor:

    Give us a break, Trustee Olver. 

    I am certainly willing to believe that the vision of “affordable private housing for Croton people” such as teachers, young graduates and seniors that you offer in your letter is what you wish will happen when the Municipal Place Gateway and North Riverside corridor are rezoned. However, your letter suggests a much greater chance of that happening, and much more control of that issue on the part of the village, than is realistic and thereby does a disservice to the community.

    “If we as a community are going to be “starting a conversation” about potential redevelopment . . . let’s have a rational, honest conversation based on the facts.”

    It is unrealistic to expect that development of apartments that are new construction, with Hudson River views and enclosed, off-street parking (as was suggested in the village’s presentation) is going to do much to increase housing opportunities for entry-level workers and people on fixed incomes.

    Of course, your colleagues on the Village Board recently passed an affordable housing ordinance that would require new developments with ten or more apartments to allocate 10% of those units as “affordable.” But Croton’s affordable housing ordinance does not include a local preference for Croton residents of any kind, as your letter suggests would be the case. Instead, any “affordable” apartments will have to be marketed in accordance with Westchester County’s Fair & Affordable Housing Affirmative Marketing Plan, which also provides no local preference for “Croton people.”

    Even if it did (which it does not), would a local preference imposed by an overwhelmingly white community (such as Croton) actually withstand a legal challenge that it violates the Fair Housing Act by perpetuating discriminatory housing patterns? Current jurisprudence suggests it would not.

    Of course, Croton’s teachers, seniors and recent grads could throw their names into the hat, along with all other eligible applicants in the required “marketing and outreach area”, hoping to snag one of the new “affordable” apartments developed here. After all, how many potential tenants can there be in the nine counties of New York and Connecticut to which all “affordable” apartments developed in Croton must be marketed, with a total population of over 10 million people? I’m sure all parents looking to reduce unnecessary snow days will be keeping their fingers crossed that Croton’s teachers will get lucky in that lottery.

    Even if they did, just about every full-time educator in the Croton Harmon School District earns in excess of the income eligibility ceiling for such “affordable” units. In 2018, that limit was $49,200 for a one-person household ($70,250/four-person household). Could a recent grad or a senior citizen qualify? Perhaps more easily than a local teacher, but without a local preference, or a legal designation of “senior housing” those “Croton people” who want the “affordable middle-class housing” on North Riverside will be left standing in line with thousands of other eligible applicants.

    If we as a community are going to be “starting a conversation” about potential redevelopment—or, more honestly, now that the public has been asked to join the conversation—let’s have a rational, honest conversation based on the facts.

    Roseann Schuyler