The Clarkstown Town Board held a continued public hearing Tuesday night on its proposed law that would allow accessory apartments. Again, the board member heard objections from community members who asked that the resolution be rejected.
Town Planner Joe Simoes explained some modifications applied to the resolution as a result of earlier public comments. The zoning would be expanded to allow accessory housing in R-10 districts. Previously the districts where it would be permitted had been limited to R-15, R-22 and R-40. Simoes noted the property must still meet minimum zoning requirements.
Another change was to establish monetary fines if homeowners did not comply with getting the proper certification to convert a one family home to include an or if they did not turn the home back into a single family residence when it was being put up for sale.
Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner, a member of the housing committee, which developed the program, said the group met soon after the July public hearing to discuss the numerous concerns raised and made some recommendations.
Steve Levine of Congers repeated the questions he asked the board at the July meeting. He wanted to know why the resolution did not state that the purpose of permitting accessory apartments was to provide lower-cost, convenient housing for Clarkstown’s emergency services volunteers and to provide additional income for senior citizens who wanted to stay in their homes. Levine asked why all residential zones were not listed as being acceptable for accessory housing.
Joe Ciardullo said the underlying problem was the excessive taxes in Clarkstown. He said if the taxes were lowered people could afford to pay them and the need for accessory housing would disappear. Ciardullo said people with modest homes that are 30 and 40 years old pay about $1,000 a month in taxes.
Ciardullo said it was cheaper to illegally convert a home and pay a fine of possibly $750 than to legally convert a home for $1,000. Town Supervisor Alex Gromack said there had been a meeting with fire officials to discuss increasing fines for illegal conversions.
Frank Grandel of New City said blanket zoning would negatively affect property values.
“Don’t you dare give blanket approval to downsize our community when you can’t even control the illegal housing now,” he said.
The president of the Little Tor Neighborhood Association said the town’s code enforcement is lacking and if accessory apartments are going to be permitted, the town needs to take the proper steps to do it right.
Guy Gervasi of the Clarkstown Taxpayers said the town was built on the concept of single family housing in residential neighborhood and the resolution would “kill the character of Clarkstown.”
Gromack recommended people contact the planning board and meet with Simoes to discuss their concerns and get clarification of the proposed law.