John Habib: The Future of Municipal Place

At its March 2nd meeting, Croton’s Board passed two zoning amendments applicable to key village areas. The decision infuriated a large number of people. The individuals who should be MOST UPSET are residential/commercial property developers who were hoping to make millions from the changes. Real estate moguls will be furious that these modest amendments indisputably block their goal of maximizing profits derived from speculative, large-scale developments. Croton will receive ZERO proposals from capitalist construction carpetbaggers, who will walk away without investing in Croton. “Good Riddance”. 

The voices insisting that the Board adopt a “No New Housing Ever” policy were respectfully acknowledged, but unheeded. No Village official should blindly comply with such a mantra. We should not maintain a status quo that showcases our decades-long failure to incentivize the completion of tactfully designed, micro-projects in these high-profile gateway zones. Our elected leaders must instead comply with their numerous fiduciary duties, which in 2020 and beyond include: i) improving government services; ii) stabilizing/reducing Village expenses; and iii) enabling small-scale residential development to increase our depleted housing stock while gently rehabilitating declining areas. These principles have net positive impacts that would win majority support in ANY public survey – if it was properly drafted. 

Those who should be PLEASED with the vote are the many Croton residents who demanded that the Board never enact zoning changes creating traffic problems, damaging the environment, or negatively impacting our quality of life. The 80% Board vote in favor of the 2 amendments actually complies with this wise policy. The Request for Proposal document now to be drafted for the “Katz Property” will contain even more development restrictions than were already included in the relevant zoning amendment. In addition, the RFP will be authored by an independently chaired Committee dedicated to balancing diverse community voices. As for Riverside corridor development, the Planning Board’s future review of new proposals received for that area – if any at all – will present insurmountable obstacles for projects not designed with Croton’s best interests at their core. In short – the demands of Crotonites who want carefully managed changes that benefit Croton’s population as a whole were complied with – and will continue to be respected in the years ahead.

John Habib, Trustee

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