In his final report on zoning in Westchester municipalities, filed with the federal court on Friday, the monitor overseeing the fair housing settlement between the county and the federal government called out the county for “mischaracterizing” some of the findings in the draft report released more than a month ago.
The report found that seven municipalities were exclusionary under state law, which requires municipalities to allow for the construction of their share of the regional need for affordable housing. Jim Johnson, the monitor, did the analysis to try to break the deadlock between the county and the Department of Housing and Urban Development over whether there is exclusionary zoning in Westchester.
In responding to his report, Johnson said the county mischaracterized his findings by saying the report “determined that there is no evidence of exclusionary zoning in 24 municipalities.” In fact, he said, there is some evidence of exclusionary zoning in many of the 20 towns he placed in a middle category. Though there are factors that mitigate against labeling them exclusionary, there is still room for improvement, he said. Only four towns were entirely cleared under state legal standards.
The county also said the report found no evidence of exclusionary zoning based on race or ethnicity. Overall, Johnson said, more analysis was necessary to draw conclusions on the racial impact of municipal zoning. Also, he did find some evidence of a disparate impact on minorities in Tuckahoe and the town of Mamaroneck, he said.
Ned McCormack, a spokesman for County Executive Rob Astorino, pointed to the sentence in the report that says: “The Monitor has concluded that the zoning regulations of 24 our of 31 municipalities are not exclusionary.”
“He can’t have it both ways,” McCormack said. “He’s basically saying if I find something someday, maybe.”
The county will not back off its conclusion that there is no exclusionary zoning in Westchester municipalities, McCormack said.