Westchester County has the highest taxes in the nation. The cost of County government is too high. County Executive Rob Astorino has held the line on taxes and we have had no increase in the tax levy for three years. Rob has done a good job at keeping taxes in check while maintaining essential services. Before Rob came to office, County taxes were increasing at an alarming rate. I will help Rob keep our County taxes in check.
The reason is simple. Higher taxes mean lower property values. Unfortunately, many people have been fleeing Westchester in recent years to Connecticut because the taxes are lower. We must hold the line on taxes or people will continue to flee, our property values will be hurt, and there will not be enough people left to support our expanding government.
I promise to hold the line on taxes while protecting vital government services.
Protecting our local zoning laws (the HUD Settlement)
I believe that I can help the County navigate through the difficult issues it faces in complying with the HUD Settlement. As a local land use attorney, I understand local zoning laws and have appeared before many planning and zoning boards. As a former President of Habitat for Humanity, I also understand affordable housing.
The Sound Shore has made many great strides in addressing the need for affordable housing. The Regatta Apartments in the Village of Mamaroneck, the Hommocks Apartments in the Town of Mamaroneck, and the discussions regarding the old Esposito site in Larchmont are all good examples of the outstanding efforts made by many good people on the Sound Shore to address the need for affordable housing.
I am deeply offended by the attacks on Westchester by our own federal government. HUD should be commending our efforts, not offending our citizens and local political leaders for their efforts. Westchester is the fourth most diverse county in the state. The differences in our housing stock are driven by economics, not race.
I agree with an article recently written by the local League of Women Voters that said HUD must take the time to understand our zoning laws, acknowledge our constitutionally based “home rule” that controls local zoning, and understand the physical limitations in our area, especially our built environment in the southern half of the County.
On the County Board I will work with HUD where appropriate, but I will oppose any efforts by HUD to usurp the control of our local zoning and remake the Sound Shore with social engineering directed from Washington.
Right-sized development and “smart growth” to help lower taxes
As many of you know, my brother Christopher and I recently restored the historic Mamaroneck train station, originally built in 1888. The property had become dilapidated and in desperate need of repair. We bought the building from the MTA, invested our own private dollars to renovate the building, and turned it into an asset for the community.
When the MTA owned the station it was off the tax rolls. The property is now generating property taxes to the local community, over 50 jobs for local residents who also pay income taxes, and brings life to the train station and the Columbus Park area of the Village of Mamaroneck.
Too often I see surrounding communities, like New Rochelle, trying to solve their economic problems by seeking “Big Box” developments. These developments are large and impersonal. Many years ago, I fought along side the residents of Larchmont and Mamaroneck against IKEA and I promise to continue to fight against ugly, Big Box development. Such development ruins the environment and ruins the character of our communities.
As your County Legislator, I promise to fight FOR properly sized development, and AGAINST over-sized development.
I believe that nothing defines a community more than protecting and celebrating its history. The Sound Shore has many wonderful historic assets that need to be protected. Too often historic structures are torn down. I will fight against destruction of our historical assets. If a property can be saved and put to productive use, even if repurposed or reconfigured like the train station, I think it should be saved.
One such historic asset is Playland. It is a historic park but it has not been supporting itself and has become a drag on the taxpayers. Playland needs new life breathed into it. I like the concept of a “Sustainable Playland” that grew out of the local community. An appropriate scaled park that preserves historically-significant rides, while adding needed ball fields and attractive green space makes sense.
I will use my business, development, and legal experience to make sure a “Sustainable Playland” is truly economically and environmentally sustainable for generations to come.
Protecting the Environment
In renovating the Mamaroneck train station, we used several “green building” techniques in the restoration of the station. Green roofing, reclaimed lumber and recycled materials helps save natural resources. The use of energy-efficient radiant heat flooring and thermal barrier roofing helps cut energy use and saved us money. Last year, our project was recognized with a Westchester Municipal Planning Federation award for outstanding adaptive reuse.
Promoting “green building” is good business AND it is good for the environment. I will promote these environmental policies on the County Board.
These are some of the issues we face. Westchester is a special place and I am deeply committed to keeping it that way. As a member of the County Legislature, I will work to protect this “special place” we call home and fight against efforts to remake it from Washington. As we have seen in recent years, Washington does not have all the answers. We need to maintain local control of our decisions and protect “home rule”.
Candidate for County Legislator
District 7 – Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Rye, and parts of New Rochelle and Harrison