The work on drafting an inclusionary zoning law continues. The hope was that Jeff Baker, counsel to the Council, would have a working draft of the law ready for review at Wednesday's meeting. That did not happen, but there was some interesting discussion. Early on in the meeting, Baker cautioned, "It is not realistic that adopting this law is going to result in a significant increase in affordable housing." Nevertheless, the ad hoc committee, composed only it seems of Rebecca Wolff (First Ward) and John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) along with Council president Tom DePietro, continues its work.
What is typical for inclusionary zoning programs is to require developers to sell or rent 10 to 20 percent of new residential units to lower income residents at prices they can afford. The inclusionary zoning that is already in place for the Riverfront Gateway District in Hudson requires any development of ten or more units to set aside at least 20 percent of the units as affordable. The ad hoc committee started out wanting a 25 percent set aside, but it was reported on Wednesday that Bruce Levine of 3d Development Group, LLC, who built Crosswinds here in Hudson, said 20 percent was more reasonable than 25 percent. The change from 25 percent to 20 percent also impacts the size of a development that would be affected. Originally, it was any development with four or more units. Now, because there cannot be 20 percent of four, the number of units has increased to five.
There was discussion of the possibility of a buyout--that is, a developer could avoid having to meet the inclusionary zoning requirement by making a contribution to a housing trust fund. Wolff was opposed to the idea, saying she didn't think there was a legal requirement for giving developers an out. Rosenthal advised, "Making this mandatory is going to affect development." DePietro warned against imposing a law that was "so onerous that a project would just run away." Wolff insisted, "It's clear that given an out developers will take it. . . . In this city, it would be a real misstep to allow a buyout."
Given that the set aside is meant for workforce housing, Wolff said it was necessary to determine what is "the actual workforce wage of Hudson." Baker suggested the workforce means people who provide essential services, naming specifically hospital staff (not including doctors), teachers, and police officers. Finding out the annual incomes of hospital workers will be a challenge, but for teachers and police officers there is SeeThroughNY. In 2020, the annual salaries for 201 people employed by the Hudson City School District ranged from $191,005 to $55,259, with 32 people being paid more than $100,000. Granted some of those 32 are principals and administrators, but about 25 of them appear to be classroom teachers. The range of salaries in 2020 for the 23 members of the Hudson Police Department listed goes from $133,078 to $47,298, with 10 officers making more than $100,000 a year.
The meeting ended with two cautionary statements. Rosenthal warned, "We don't want do go so far that we stifle development." Baker advised, "Everyone's profit driven. If they can't make a profit, they will go somewhere else."
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