North Castle Town Board Approves Affordable Housing Ordinance

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The North Castle Town Board
The North Castle Town Board Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

ARMONK, N.Y. -- North Castle's Town Board recently approved an ordinance for affordable housing in town.

The ordinance, which comes amid Westchester County's 2009 federal settlement for the construction of 750 affordable housing units over a 7-year period, will require affordable housing in developments with at least eight to nine total housing units.

The unanimous approval from the five-member board took place at its May 14 meeting.

The Town Board, after some internal debate, agreed to only allow affordable units to keep their status for 50 years, rather than a possible status of in perpetuity.

Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto, who was opposed to in perpetuity status, was concerned about keeping it in case there is no longer a need and if such a building no longer has a purpose.

“It's still going to be here,” she said.

DiGiacinto, who previously chaired the town's Housing Board, serves as the Town Board's liaison to it. 

The councilwoman also mentioned her dialogue with people involved with home building who did not favor a permanent restriction.

In contrast, housing covered under an existing middle income unit (MIU) program is restricted in perpetuity.

The board also agreed to different language for minimum gross floor areas of affordable units, depending on whether they are in single-family or multi-family developments. In the case of the latter, affordable units must be built with 80 percent of the average market-rate units' floor area in a mixed-unit development. For the former, the requirement is the lesser of the same 80-percent restriction or of a modified criteria, which came about after concern was raised that just using the 80-percent threshold could lead to large space being built.

Among those who spoke during the legislation's public hearing was developer Frank Madonna, who has a multi-family senior housing proposal near Route 128. He expressed concern with the 80-percent restriction, citing cost to the developer and for maintenance.

Addressing the 80-percent issue, board members including DiGiacinto and Supervisor Michael Schiliro, brought up the fact that other Westchester County municipalities have the provision.

Other items in the approved legislation include giving the Town Board discretion to allow for affordable units to be built off-site when on-site development is deemed to be impractical.

The approved law also includes a provision that lowers the minimum affordable housing percentage in a zone that currently includes a former lumber yard site, which in turn is the subject of a pending apartment proposal. The zone, called R-MF-SS, which would've had a 35-percent minimum, now has a 20-percent requirement.

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