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North Salem Tweaking Affordable Housing Ordinance

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. — For months, the North Salem town board has been working to amend the town zoning code’s affordable housing ordinance, and a public hearing on Aug. 14 brought them one step closer to change.

Supervisor Warren Lucas said that 10 of the 39 other Westchester communities impacted by the 2009 settlement agreement between Westchester County and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD ) have already adopted similar provisions to those drafted by the town based on HUD's model ordinance .  He said many others are, like North Salem, working to do the same .

“There are definitely changes and things that we need to accomplish,” said Lucas, including removing from the town’s current law provisions that give an edge to people who live in town and changing some of the language regarding income eligibility.

One of the provisions of the mandate requires these 39 communities to conduct target marketing of new affordable home developments to minority communities outside Westchester. It also requires at least 10 percent of units in new housing developments with 10 units or more to be designed as affordable.

Deputy Town Clerk Patricia Butler expressed concern that aspects of the town’s draft could cause North Salem to become a magnet for development to a greater degree than other towns, but Deputy Supervisor Peter Kamenstein said he did not think the town was in a substantially different situation than any other town.

"The northern towns are all the target of the state and federal government?and the county at this point in time—to fulfill what they said is our obligation to provide affordable housing,” he said.

North Salem has open land, which, in theory, makes it easier for development opportunities, Kamenstein said. However, while the two sites that are under consideration for development ? the proposed Bridleside and Seven Springs projects — are zoned for multi-family housing, the only other project that meets this criteria is the six-unit per acre NYSEG parcel on Fields Lane.

Community Housing Resource Center Director Tony Hoeltzel questioned whether the current version of the town board’s ordinance had, in accordance with HUD settlement terms, a provision for expedited review of such proposals by town boards.

Lucas said that there was already a provision in the town’s original ordinance regarding the pre-application process for affordable housing, but he would see if it needed to be strengthened. Lucas said he hoped the board would be able to make progress on this issue by its first September meeting.

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