Did Croton Engage in Exclusionary Zoning Practices?

The following letter to the Gazette will be published in the July 7 issue.
To the Editor:

At the June 27th work session, the village attorney discussed recent communications between the village and James Johnson, the housing monitor appointed to oversee the implementation of the legal settlement between Westchester County and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Village residents may recall that back in May, Mr. Johnson encouraged the federal government to give serious consideration to bringing suit against seven Westchester communities—Croton among them—that he determined had engaged in exclusionary zoning practices.

Croton is a wonderful, diverse community that has, in fact, encouraged, supported and—in HUD’s own words—“affirmatively furthered” fair housing opportunities. It is unfortunate that our community is on Mr. Johnson’s exclusionary zoning practices list, and very worrisome that Croton lives under the threat of costly, and likely high-profile, litigation by the federal government.

But I want to make sure village residents understand that Croton is on this list due to an ill-considered and politically motivated change to village code promulgated by the members of the Wiegman administration, including current Trustee Ann Gallelli. On Monday night Ms. Gallelli professed to have no idea of why the village would have gotten into trouble with HUD, even though she and the other members of the prior administration were warned at the time that passage of a law that would explicitly restrict the development of certain types of rental housing would likely result in consequences for the village—particularly at a time when the federal government was intensely focused on fair housing issues in Westchester County.

The housing monitor has recently been provided with evidence of Croton’s commitment to diversity and fairness in housing, but more may need to be done before our community is removed from the Housing Monitor’s list. I look forward to the day when Croton’s well-deserved reputation as a welcoming, egalitarian community is restored, but want to set the record straight on why we find ourselves listed as a community that has engaged in intentional housing discrimination.

Roseann Schuyler