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Six Westchester Towns' Zoning Named 'Exclusionary' In Monitor's Analysis

Chairman Michael Kaplowitz represents New Castle, Somers and Yorktown.
Chairman Michael Kaplowitz represents New Castle, Somers and Yorktown. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – A new batch of six Westchester towns have been labeled exclusionary in a new report by the federal monitor overseeing the county’s affordable housing settlement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Harrison, Larchmont, Lewisboro, North Castle, Pelham Manor and Rye Brook received the mark in Jim Johnson’s report on the Huntington Analysis that he conducted during the last several months. The analysis looks at a community’s racial composition to see if it would create exclusionary zoning.

“These municipalities have zoning regulations that either: (i) perpetuate clustering by restricting multifamily or two-family housing to districts that have disproportionately high minority household populations; or (ii) disparately impact the County minority household population by restricting the development of housing types most often used by minority residents,” Johnson wrote.

The communities named now have a chance to explain why its zoning restrictions are necessary and to show there are no less discriminatory alternatives.

Johnson previously conducted a Berenson Test in 2013, in which he determined seven Westchester communities had zoning that would exclude minorities from housing based on socio-economic status. Harrison, Lewisboro and Pelham Manor were all named in both. The towns of Mamaroneck and Ossining both made zoning changes that resulted in Johnson removing them from the Berenson list. Pound Ridge has made progress toward that end, Johnson wrote in the Huntington Analysis.

The housing settlement stipulates that Westchester is required to conduct a Berenson Test and Huntington Analysis and adopt an analysis of impediments (AI) that HUD finds acceptable. Westchester has submitted eight AIs, all of which said there are no barriers to fair and affordable housing in Westchester. All have been rejected by HUD.

County Executive Rob Astorino’s administration has refused to adopt Johnson’s findings in the 2013 Berenson Test, which is one of four assurances HUD demanded of the county in June. The penalty for not meeting the assurances is the loss of another $5.2 million in federal grants for homeless prevention and construction of affordable housing.

The Westchester Board of Legislators (BOL) has been working with HUD to meet those assurances, including asking Johnson to do the Huntington Analysis.

Johnson will meet with the BOL Wednesday morning to discuss legislation that would make the assurances, which also include submitting a plan for completing the required zoning analysis and a strategy to overcome exclusionary zoning practices.

Astorino says the county is in compliance with the housing settlement. But, without an AI that HUD accepts, Westchester will lose $5.2 million, on top of the $7.4 million from 2011 it has already lost.

The full Huntington Analysis is attached below.

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