August 23, 2013

Pound Ridge gets into high housing gear

Pound Ridge got a lesson in the ABCs recently when it received a “C” on housing monitor James Johnson’s latest report card.

Pound Ridge was among Westchester towns singled out for lack of action in adopting affordable housing. The good news is that the town is finally beginning to take action, initiating a series of steps to raise its “C” grade.

Since 2000, the town has approved only 12 housing units, the Scotts Ridge development located on Westchester Avenue and built by A-HOME. “In contrast, the 2005 Housing Allocation Plan, developed by Westchester County’s Housing Opportunities Commission, estimated Pound Ridge’s fair share of regional need at 184 affordable housing units,” the report states. “The allocation plan provides an order-of-magnitude indication of the town’s success in providing for the most recent and best available estimate of its share of regional affordable housing need.”

The monitor graded the towns on three categories. The towns that had made the most progress were Hastings-on-Hudson, North Salem, Tarrytown and Yorktown.

In the second category, “good job, could use improvement,” were the Town of Bedford, Village of Ardsley, Village of Bronxville, Village of Buchanan, Town of Cortlandt, Dobbs Ferry, Eastchester, Village of Irvington, Town of Mount Pleasant, Town of New Castle, Town of North Castle, Village of Pelham, Rye, Village of Rye Brook, Tuckahoe, Briarcliff Manor and Larchmont.

In the third category, the housing consultants concluded that seven of the municipalities had zoning ordinances that limited affordable housing or made the development of affordable housing infeasible.

According to the monitor, the lack of affordable housing provides the strongest evidence that exclusionary zoning on the basis of socioeconomic status exists among the towns. The municipalities shared several common zoning impediments to developing affordable housing, including lot size regulations and density requirements. Towns include Pound Ridge, Pelham Manor, Ossining, Mamaroneck, Lewisboro, Croton-on-Hudson and Harrison.

According to the settlement, the county “has a duty under the settlement to engage with municipalities whose zoning regimes pose impediments to fair housing” — a requirement that is distinct from its duty to build at least 750 units of affordable housing. Lewisboro, for example, has not adopted the model zoning ordinance, provides no mandatory rules for including affordable housing units in new developments and limits incentives for builders. In addition, Lewisboro failed to put forward acceptable plans for adding multifamily homes in the district and has failed to report development of any affordable housing since the year 2000.

In the period between the writing and the delivery of the monitor’s report, Pound Ridge has taken action in all of these areas.

Six of the towns failed to adopt the county’s model ordinance as stipulated in the settlement; Pound Ridge adopted the ordinance in May.

Along with the ordinance change, the town has signed on with other aspects of the settlement. At a board meeting on Aug. 1, a proposed residential cottage community located on the 29 acres in Pound Ridge between Pine Drive and Rolling Meadow moved closer to becoming a reality. Pound Ridge Town Supervisor Gary Warshauer said that the proposed cottage community could be built not only for senior housing but amended to include a wider demographic. He recognized that this would be a further signal to the monitor that Pound Ridge was proactively seeking to improve its response.

Going forward, Pound Ridge should use as a model the experience of the towns that received the highest marks, as well as neighboring Bedford. In addition, none of this can take place without the cooperation of the county executive and the county legislature, which together must work with Pound Ridge and other communities in response to the monitor.

This time around, Mr. Johnson’s analysis is both more practical and more site specific — his comments and recommendations are more concrete than the hard-line rhetoric of some within HUD who see this settlement as a numbers game only. And remember, there are still voices like that of Craig Gurian of the Anti-Discrimination Center, which brought the original lawsuit, urging more drastic measures. Right now, a high-rise complex in the Pound Ridge reservation would appear a near impossibilty. If Mr. Gurian were calling the shots, that could change.

Pound Ridge is making the right choice by working with the monitor and HUD rather than ratcheting up the fight. No community wants to go to court fighting charges of racism in the housing market.

And while Pound Ridge is making forward strides, town officials should try to satisfy the regional need for affordable housing beyond the terms of the settlement by easing restrictions on accessory apartments and mixed-use development. Corollary issues, like public transportation to shopping, railroad and car-pooling hubs, services for senior citizens, affordable child care, and other community programs, should also be considered.

Both the county and HUD will have until Aug. 27 to comment on the monitor’s report, which will be filed with the court no later than Aug. 30. In the meantime, Pound Ridge is taking important steps to move in the right direction.

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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