Taxpayers now on the hook for $62.5 mil as Federal Government remains mum
Assemblyman Greg Ball (R, C, I – Patterson) today blasted a controversial $62.5 million settlement between the United States Department of Justice and Westchester County that obligates northern Westchester taxpayers to build 750 below-market-rate homes, which will be marketed by court order in low-income areas outside Westchester.
“Because of weak-kneed county insiders and the silence of our federal elected officials, a politically motivated social policy will now be jammed down the throats of Northern Westchester residents,” Ball said.
The settlement, brokered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development had to be approved by the County Board of Legislators in order to meet a September 24th deadline, and was done so with little public notice or input, which Ball says amounts to little more than judicial fiat on the part of Federal government.
Ball was joined by County Legislator George Oros (R, C – Cortlandt), the Minority Leader of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, who continued his criticism of the County’s settlement, saying that “now that it is done, the time is here to make sure the implementation protects home rule as best it can and that local concerns are fully addressed as the County pushes the plan.”
Oros was one of five legislators who voted against the agreement between the county and federal government that mandates county taxpayers build a minimum of 750 “fair and affordable” housing units by 2016.
“To me it was a vote on principle,” Oros said. “This agreement destroys home rule, will ultimately cost millions more and is just one more example of a government in Washington that seeks growing control over nearly every aspect of our life.”
“This whole thing was adopted without any concrete details of how the 750 units will be built, or where, and the settlement contains no cap on how much this will cost the taxpayers,” Somers resident Greg Kane said.
According to published reports, the vast majority of northern Westchester residents believe it was wrong to seek a settlement rather than going to trial.
“The vagueness of the Stipulation of Settlement, the unfound reliance upon assurances from outside the Agreement itself mean that the people of Somers have no real idea of the cost or impact,” Kane said. “That is the real gamble.”
Somers resident Harry Bolton said Somers has already done its fair share in terms of providing “fair and affordable” housing and cautioned the impact further development would have on schools, roadways and town services.
“The residents of Somers need to be assured that the environment, infrastructure and school system will not be adversely impacted by the County coming in and dictating what housing to build and where to build it,” Bolton added.