HGAR Holds Rockland County Day Program

HGAR Holds Rockland County Day Program
The Legislative Panel included, from left, State Sen. Bill Weber, Rockland County Executive Ed Day, State Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski and Moderator HGAR Director of Government Affairs Alex Roithmayr. PHOTO BY JOHN VECCHIOLLA

NYACK—In the first of a series of programs that will focus on the key market areas serviced by the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, the association staged a highly-informative and well-attended “Rockland County Day” program on July 17 at the Nyack Seaport here.

The event brought together Realtors, local politicians, economic development officials and other local groups for an afternoon of discussion, legislative and legal insights and updates on some of the happenings in and around Rockland County.

One major topic of discussion was the damage caused by the torrential rains and flash flooding over the past few weeks. Rockland County Executive Ed Day, part of a Legislative panel that included State Sen. Bill Weber (R-C-38th District) and State Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (D-96th District), updated the attendees on the latest road closures and openings and noted that Gov. Kathy Hochul had requested a Major Disaster Declaration from President Biden, which if granted, would make a host of counties in the state, including Rockland County, eligible for FEMA assistance.

The panel, moderated by HGAR Director of Government Affairs Alex Roithmayr, also delved into the controversial housing crisis issue and Gov. Hochul’s “New York Housing Compact” plan that failed to garner sufficient support from the New York State Legislature. In fact, the proposal, which sought to build 800,000 new homes statewide, was criticized by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle for circumventing local home rule.

While noting the need for more affordable housing, the panelists bristled at the governor’s plan that included targeted development goals for communities and penalties for non-compliance. The compact also would have allowed developers to seek approval from a panel after being denied by local authorities.

Rockland County Executive Day pulled no punches in his opposition to the compact. He said any housing plan should involve incentives for development and should not circumvent local control.

Michael Oates, President and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp., noted that the housing crisis issue is not going away anytime soon and will likely be a key focus of Gov. Hochul and lawmakers in Albany in 2024.

“Don’t tell us how to do it,” Day said. “With all due respect to the governor, they (state lawmakers) don’t know what they are doing. This is what happened with bail reform and a number of other issues here in the state.” The County Executive, who also opposed a component of the compact that promoted Accessory Dwelling Units, noted that Rockland County will be hosting a Housing Forum in the near future to address some of the key issues affecting the residential market in Rockland County.

Assemblyman Zebrowski said that he opposed the governor’s housing plan due in part to its promotion of ADUs. He said, “I don’t think that you can have a one-size fits all approach and I don’t think you can take away the authority from our local governments in order to correctly and appropriately with public input develop projects with housing,” he said.

The Assemblyman said he would support “a much more robust process where we attempt to identify and incentivize projects around the state.” He said the plan would need to adapt to the local needs of municipalities throughout the state.

State Sen. Weber added that most state lawmakers were against the governor’s compact plan because they believe local jurisdictions should control development decisions, not the state.

He stressed that a long-standing problem in Rockland County is the need for affordable housing for both seniors and young, first-time homebuyers. Sen. Weber said that the state increasing funding for local infrastructure projects could subsequently incentivize needed housing development in those areas.

Later, Michael Oates, President and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp., discussed a host of projects and trends impacting business development in Rockland County and the rest of the Hudson Valley. In his presentation, Oates noted that the housing crisis issue is not going away anytime soon and will likely be a key focus of Gov. Hochul and lawmakers in Albany in 2024.

“The need for housing is incredibly important and a critical need,” Oates said. “We are going to continue to see housing remain one of the most important issues facing the state and we (HVEDC) believe that in conversations with the governor’s office and with the governor herself a new approach will be coming in next year’s budget cycle that will take into account more of what local municipalities want to see happen.”

Among the other speakers at the event included: Tony D’Anzica, HGAR President; Brian Levine, HGAR General Counsel, Professional Standards Administrator; Sue Ferreri, Executive Director, Rockland Farm Alliance; Sonia Cairo, Executive Director, Keep Rockland Beautiful; and Andrew Farrell, Department Manager, EV Operations, Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc.

HGAR President D’Anzica noted that he launched the County Day program initiative as a way to celebrate and focus on the markets HGAR serves. The respective events also offer an opportunity to engage with key stakeholders and learn about the latest developments in the respective counties, while gathering information that HGAR member clients can use.

The sponsors of the Rockland County Day program were: Hudson United Mortgage, Title and Insurance (Premier Sponsor) and sponsors: York Analytical Laboratories Inc., Howard Hanna Rand Realty, Rand Commercial and Tilcon.

HGAR has scheduled “Westchester County Day” on Monday, July 24 at the HGAR offices in White Plains from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The association has also tentatively scheduled “Bronx Day for Sept. 13; Orange County Day for Oct. 11 and Putnam County Day for Oct. 24. For further details and information on those program offerings, go to the Events section of hgar.com

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