The Yorktown Town Board will hold a public hearing Nov. 1, on the repeal of the existing law (Chapter 102) that mandates that 10 percent of newly developed housing in developments of eight units or more be affordable. The same night, a hearing will be held on a replacement law that provides incentives if a developer chooses to include 10 percent or more affordable units in their development.

There are at least three pending developments in Yorktown that would trigger the current mandatory affordable housing law. This could produce approximately 15 affordable units. So why change a law that was intended to ensure affordable housing was included in new developments of eight units or more, just when the first units are about to be produced?

The stated reason for the proposed repeal is that the current law is illegal and unfair to developers. I don’t accept the illegality argument, and neither would numerous towns in Westchester and across the country with similar laws, and in fact neither did the U.S. Supreme Court. 

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Would the replacement law be fairer for developers, as well as for Yorktown? The new law would allow developers to build without including any affordable units. That translates into more profits for the developers, and Yorktown may lose the 15 affordable units that would otherwise have been mandated. The new law provides incentives for voluntarily including 10 percent “below-market-rate units.” By my estimation, these incentives may not be sufficient motivation for developers to create any such units. However, there are further incentives: 1.5 additional market-rate units for every below-market-rate unit above 10 percent, without any cap on the number of additional units; unspecified reduction in the number of required parking spaces; use of clustering; reduction of “other code requirements as may be appropriate and determined by the Town Board.”  This sounds very good for developers. It gives the Town Board a lot of discretion to override the requirements of local zoning.

Is this better for Yorktown, though? What about keeping the mandatory 10 percent affordability and leaving current zoning intact? Come out Nov. 1, and make your opinion heard.