HOUSING THE HUDSON VALLEY as it appears in the Sullivan County Partnership’s In The Know Magazine 3/10/21
By John C. Cappello, Partner, J&G, LLP (www.jglaw.law) and Joe Czajka, Senior Vice President for Research, Development, and Community Planning, Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress (www.pattern-for-progress.org
Over the last several years the Hudson Valley has experienced significant commercial development and growth in the form of the Resorts World Catskills Casino, Legoland, the Kartrite Resort and Indoor Water Park, Yo1 Health Resort, other resorts and tourism destinations, many large warehousing and distribution centers, light manufacturing, and some retail. Unfortunately, the local issues of housing have been left on the back burner.
However, the times they are a-changing. The pandemic has caused many residents to leave New York City and other large cities, or have a second rural or suburban housing option providing more space and safety resulting in a migration to the Hudson Valley.
The demand for new residential development is increasing across the region. While this is good news for sellers, contractors, and tradespeople among others, the influx of new residents will also bring increased support for existing businesses and new ideas and energy to our community as we emerge from the pandemic.
However, as we plan to reap the benefits of this potential real estate boom it is essential that we appropriately plan to accommodate growth.
It is vital that our region maximize all the tools available in our efforts to provide a wide range of housing opportunities. It is critical for the long-term sustainability of our communities, both the residents and the businesses in this fragile economy. The new growth must also mitigate and minimize potential adverse impacts to the beautiful yet often environmentally sensitive Hudson Valley region.
A cursory review of the real estate market and rental opportunities in a majority of our region’s municipalities shows very few affordable options to many people who are essential to our community.
It is neither healthy nor sustainable, from either an economic or an environmental perspective, for residential development to occur in such a way that our essential workforce cannot live in the communities that they serve.
Fortunately, there are several organizations, planning groups, and developers focusing on developing new and innovative options to help meet our housing needs.
Locally, the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress Center for Housing Solutions https://www.pattern-for-progress.org/the-center-for-housing-solutions/ provides a wealth of information on housing trends in the region as well as providing expert analysis and discussion on solutions to the problem of lack of adequate area housing opportunities.
There is a nationwide movement known as YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) that started in the San Francisco Bay area, as discussed in a great book entitled “Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America” by Conor Dougherty. This national effort provides educational material and support for inclusive zoning that incudes multi-family housing. Just type YIMBY into any search engine and you will find a wealth of information.
One exciting and innovative project was completed in Kansas City in 2019 by The Veterans Community Project where 49 “tiny houses” ranging in size from 240-320 sq. ft. were constructed on a five-acre plot to provide decent transitional housing for homeless veterans (see www.veteranscommunityproject.org for more info).
This concept of tiny or smaller starter homes and multi-family dwellings can and should be replicated in many of our Hudson Valley communities. These developments can provide diverse housing opportunities on smaller footprints with much less land disturbance than traditional large suburban single-family housing. In addition, by incorporating energy saving building design and alternative energy features, any adverse environmental impact can be further minimized.
We have a great opportunity in the coming year to come together as a community to start to address the need to provide for reasonable and sustainable housing for all those wishing to live in our region.
Over the course of 2021 I will be gathering information regarding many of these innovative options and the educational information available and posting on our firm website under the heading Resources/Housing the Hudson Valley. Pattern will also be holding a monthly webinar series specifically addressing housing and the real estate market.
This is not intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney for questions regarding your specific situation.