Hempstead looks to repeal plan for homes near transit, defying Hochul

Residents: Rezoning would have negative impact on “community character”

<p>A photo illustration of Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin (Getty, Facebook) </p>

A photo illustration of Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin (Getty, Facebook)

Before the pandemic, Hempstead Town positioned itself as a municipality that could make a notable dent in New York’s housing crisis. But Long Island politics have changed since the pandemic.

Town officials appear set to repeal an overlay district next month, Newsday reported. The rezoning, which came about in 2019, was designed to allow more transit-oriented development in the Nassau County town. Projects with certain approvals in place will be able to move forward.

The overlay district covered 73 acres and specifically encouraged affordable housing development near two local Long Island Rail Road stations. It permitted up to 60 units per acre of housing in some places.

The proposal to repeal the overlay district in the villages of Inwood and North Lawrence claim the rezoning would have a negative impact on “community character and quality of life” and could be a “threat to public health, safety and welfare.”

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin was among the many on Long Island who opposed Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plans for housing mandates across the state, particularly around train stations. His desire for local control — echoed among many municipalities — squashed the governor’s ambitious housing plan last year. She got a weaker plan through the legislature this year, but it offers only incentives rather than requirements for localities to add homes.

Not much housing was built in the two Hempstead villages after the overlay district was adopted. In the fall of 2022, the Hempstead Town Board unanimously approved a six-month moratorium on building houses and apartments in the villages. The moratorium effectively reversed the ability for developers to take advantage of the overlay district, where up to 1,000 apartments were possibly going to be built.

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The moratorium was extended multiple times, according to Newsday. The most recent extension of the moratorium is set to expire in mid-June.

“While it’s disappointing that these overlay districts will be eliminated, we have been reassured that the Town will work with any developer looking to build housing in these zones,” Kyle Strober, executive director of the Association for a Better Long Island, wrote in a statement.

A public hearing on the matter is set for next month.

Holden Walter-Warner