By Nadine Cafaro
In early January, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a strategy to build 800,000 houses across the state in hopes to aid New York’s housing crisis. However the Town of Crawford is concerned about the approach.
The mandate will require all towns, villages and cities to achieve a certain new-home goal over the course of three years. In upstate counties specifically, the new home target will be by one percent over three years. In order to do this, The New York Housing Compact is offering a $250 million Infrastructure fund and a $20 million Planning Fund. According to the New York State website, “The New York Housing Compact, a comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy, includes local participation requirements and incentives to achieve housing growth in every community so that every part of the State is a partner in solving this urgent crisis.”
Crawford officials let their concerns be known in a letter signed by Town Supervisor Charles E. Carnes dated February 17, 2023. The letter begins with: “We, the Town of Crawford, are deeply concerned regarding the recently proposed Affordable Housing Bill. While we agree on the need for accessible and affordable housing in New York State, the recommended approach to resolving this issue suggests an unrealistic solution.”
Carnes goes into a bit more detail, stating that the mandate goes against Home Rule. Home Rule is the shifting of power to local governments so they can make decisions about the local area. Carnes explained what Home Rule means to Crawford. “We do a master plan. We review water, sewer, scenery, viewsheds, and different things like that. That’s the way it’s historically been run,” said Carnes.
In Carnes’ beliefs, Albany shouldn’t have too much of a say in local issues.
“If you’re the Town of Crawford, it’s Home Rule, you make your decisions on zoning. If you’re over in the Town of Montgomery, you make your decisions. Albany should not be involved in overruling the Town of Crawford zoning, the Town of Montgomery or whoever else it might be,” said Carnes.
The letter later states that the mandate isn’t considering the different municipalities’ abilities to control growth with water and sewer capacity issues and constrictions due to poor soil and drainage issues. It also noted that the strategy will negatively impact the environment and natural resources in Crawford.
Carnes mentioned that Crawford would need to produce 106 new homes under the mandate. “She [Hochul] is concerned about affordable housing there and is trying to bring more housing in, which she thinks might bring the prices down. That’s to be determined,” said Carnes.
Crawford’s Supervisor isn’t alone in his feelings. He’s mentioned talking to other supervisors and organizations who feel similarly.
“I’ve taken this to the Orange County Association of Towns [Villages and Cities], we would rather work with the state, but the final decisions will be made by the town, city, village, whoever it is. What does Albany, New York know about the different issues in the Town of Crawford?” Carnes asked.
Carnes confirmed that the town already has some affordable housing, including a section eight housing development, two large senior projects and a current in-the-works 42-unit senior/veteran housing development that’s going through the planning board currently.
“In my opinion, I think that this will go into the court system. There’ll be opposition to this,” said Carnes.
This letter is on Crawford’s planning board agenda this Wednesday, March 8.