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Op-Ed: Long Island Needs Smart Housing, Not Mass Housing

By Supervisor Joe Saladino

Long Island needs more affordable housing opportunities for young people that are beginning their careers and for senior citizens who are downsizing their homes.

Although the State Legislature stopped the Governor’s plan to override local zoning laws and allow for high density apartment buildings in residential neighborhoods, the fight is not yet over.

After serving as a New York State Assemblyman for almost 14 years, I can assure you, and the Governor continues to admit, that her initiative is not over and that she will continue to fight for it.

The State Legislature and local officials throughout Long Island are not opposed to smart growth, in fact, we embrace it. We opposed the Governor’s plans from the start because we know the impact it will have on our infrastructure, the environment and result in a steep rise in taxes.

Population growth and new housing impacts our sole source aquifer and the limited supply of drinking water it provides. High-density housing has the ability to further overwhelm our roadways with traffic and congestion, overpower our sewage systems while requiring over a billion dollars in upgrades, and creates an enormous challenge for sanitation disposal due to the already impending closure of Long Island’s only landfill.

I am old enough to remember the garbage barge and realize that the State still has not created the solution to the ever-growing volume of garbage that Long Island produces.

Furthermore, the Governor’s plan would have removed the voice of residents from having any say over developments in their own communities while replacing control with an un-elected board in Albany whose powers allow them to approve high-density housing buildings throughout our region.

Thankfully, the State Legislature heard our concerns, understands the challenges we face as a region and stopped the Governor’s mandate for now.

As America’s first suburb and as an island, we on Long Island have limited space in which to grow. The average population density of Nassau County is nearly 11 times higher than the State average. If the Governor’s plan was approved, this number could skyrocket, creating untenable challenges to our infrastructure and expanding our carbon footprint significantly.

From already high property taxes and energy prices among the highest anywhere, to overcrowded roadways, a lack of light rail, a limited supply of clean water, inadequate sewage capacity and the impending closure of Long Island’s only landfill, the Governor’s push to significantly grow our population with thousands of new apartments is extremely problematic for our region. We call on Albany to solve the problems straining our communities and environment before introducing many more.

On behalf of all Long Islanders, I commend the State Legislature’s fortitude to stop the Governor’s mandate while addressing the affordable housing challenge with hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives to encourage builders to increase housing stock. With smart planning, proper investments and a solution to the hurdles that population density creates, Long Island can grow in a sustainable and affordable way that makes sense.

----------------------------------- Joseph Saladino is the Supervisor of the Town of Oyster Bay


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