Nov. 18, 2011 -- County Executive Robert P. Astorino said the county is still reviewing its legal options following a recent recommendation from the housing monitor siding with the federal government on two major issues relating to the 2009 housing settlement: the rights of property owners to control how their property is rented and the rights of municipalities to control local zoning.
"We are of course very disappointed with the monitor's views on these two constitutionally protected rights," said Astorino. "Westchester is complying with the settlement negotiated by my predecessor. In fact, the county is a year ahead of schedule in terms of the fundamental requirement of building the housing. This has been done by cooperating with local governments, not by threats of litigation.
"Unfortunately, our exceptional progress on the terms of what is actually in the agreement has not satisfied the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In HUD's own words, it insists the county 'go beyond the four corners of the settlement.' Because nothing in the settlement justifies this level of bureaucratic overreach from Washington, the county is reviewing all of its options to ensure it is in compliance with the settlement, while protecting the rights of all Westchester residents."
Astorino urged residents to read the May 13 letter from HUD setting out "corrective actions" for the county – not in the settlement – which include dismantling local zoning, requiring 50 percent of the units to have at least three bedrooms, and placing them near "above average schools" as well as the monitor's Nov. 14 recommendation.
The 2009 settlement entered into by former County Executive Andrew J. Spano and the Board of Legislators requires the construction of 750 units of fair and affordable housing in 31, so-called eligible or mainly white, communities.
The county is obligated to have 100 units with financing and 50 units with building permits in place by the end of this year. That goal has already been met. The housing monitor, James Johnson, has approved 206 units, of which 182 have all their financing in place. Of these, 108 units have their building permits as well.
In addition, another 42 units are currently before the Board of Legislators under review.