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LI Developer throwing people out of their homes

Posted by Long Island Matters on August 9, 2013 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (1)

Plan for N. Amityville mobile home park on track

Originally published: July 1, 2013 7:10 PM

Alexis Gadsden stands on the lawn of her

Photo credit: Newsday/Danielle Finkelstein | Alexis Gadsden stands on the lawn of her North Amityville home, overlooking the 50-year-old mobile home park directly across the street. Gadsden and other residents are worried about a planned development that will replace the mobile home park with 500 new apartments. (April 10, 2012)

A developer who seeks to replace a North Amityville mobile home park with apartments has been granted tax abatements from the Babylon Town Industrial Development Agency and is moving ahead, despite lawsuits aimed at stopping the project.

The IDA has given R Squared Real Estate Partners of Plainview a 10-year deal starting with an 85 percent abatement that decreases 8.5 percentage points per year. IDA head Robert Stricoff said tax revenue for the park is $680,000 and this amount is guaranteed for each year. The estimated savings for the developer is $12 million.

R Squared -- the sister company of Rechler Equity Partners, both of which are managed by cousins Gregg and Mitchell Rechler -- wants to build 500 apartments with retail space on the 20-acre site. The park has more than 300 mobile homes, and many of the residents -- who own their homes but pay about $600 in rent to stay on the property -- say the homes are too old to move. And many people in the park are seniors or disabled, residents said. Town officials have said the park will be condemned for health and safety violations if it is not brought up to code or redeveloped.

Stricoff said R Squared is investing $120 million into the project. "Developments that increase the assessed value [are] a positive for the entire town," Stricoff said.

Site work is slated to begin later this year and major construction on the first phase of development early next year, Stricoff said. In a statement, Gregg Rechler said the project will "spur economic development and provide much-needed housing options."

The project is to be carried out in five phases, with Phase I calling for the removal of 64 homes in the park's northwestern area closest to Route 110.

The park's civic association has filed three lawsuits to stop the project, all of which remain before Justice Joseph Pastoressa in State Supreme Court. The association's lawyer, William Rapp, said he will ask the judge for a stay to stop construction until those cases are decided.

Last July the town board approved a relocation plan for the park's residents, but a finalized plan has not been completed, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said. He said it will likely be presented at the next town board meeting on July 16. The plan will be administered by the Long Island Housing Partnership and paid for by the developer, he said.

Linda Kavun, a resident in the Phase I area of the park, said she feels "completely in the dark," unaware of the IDA deal or that the developer is moving ahead. Kavun, 61, and her husband Ed, 68, a retired veteran, have lived in the park for 15 years, investing more than $10,000 into their mobile home, she said. Living off Social Security and disability payments, Kavun said the couple will not be able to afford to live in the new apartments.

"We had no intention of going anywhere and we have no money to go anywhere," she said.

NY Post - Homeowner 'protection' is a peril

Posted by Long Island Matters on August 8, 2013 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (0)


Homeowner ‘protection’ is a peril


Last Updated: 1:31 AM, August 4, 2013

Posted: 10:24 PM, August 3, 2013

The House Financial Services Committee wants to give a new private company unprecedented control of land records, making an end run around state laws that protect New York homeowners from fraud.


Buried in the controversial new Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners (PATH) Act, a housing finance reform bill sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), is a plan for creating a National Mortgage Data Repository. The repository would essentially be a privately run recorder of deeds, with vast powers formerly held by states.


As the final word on legal rights to home ownership, the repository would have far-reaching impact on residential real estate transactions, from sales to foreclosures.


The bill, which was approved by the committee July 24 in a vote along party lines, insulates the repository from almost all legal challenges in state or federal courts. Should it become law, homeowners would find themselves essentially without legal recourse to contest errors in the repository.


“This is a pretty radical intrusion on state law governing homeownership,” says Jacob Inwald, director of foreclosure prevention litigation at Legal Services NYC.


“It’s shocking that the entire structure we’re accustomed to under state law would, with a [stroke] of a pen, be displaced, and there’s no way to challenge anything that transpired within this registry,” Inwald added.


On its face, the repository serves as a solution to the record-keeping mess created by big banks and their private mortgage registry, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS). The foreclosure crisis drags on largely because, in thousands of court cases, banks and MERS cannot produce correct documents proving the lenders’ right to foreclose.


A spokesman for the Financial Services Committee insisted, “The repository will establish a clear record of who owns what and who owes what to whom ... [which] will ensure all mortgage-related actions can be carried out with legal certainty.”


But critics charge that this bill is a stealthy effort to expand a failed business model — at the expense of consumer rights and state law.


“We tried an experiment on this, and it came out very badly,” said Michael Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, who testified against the bill.


Locals address board on airport, Ronkonkoma Hub transit plan

Posted by Long Island Matters on August 8, 2013 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Newsday 8/8/13
By Sophia Chang

Some residents spoke out at Tuesday’s Islip Town board meeting against the town’s application for a state grant to study the feasibility of a people-mover connecting Long Island MacArthur Airport with the upcoming Ronkonkoma transit-oriented development project.

Civic leader Larry Farrell said there are so many projects happening around Ronkonkoma that local groups are feeling overwhelmed and excluded from the planning process.

“We want to put them all into one project,” said Farrell, a board member of the Ronkonkoma Civic Association. “We’re requesting a comprehensive plan,” as well as more input, he said.
Town officials have begun an application for transformative grant funding from the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council for the people mover, which would be part of the Ronkonkoma Hub development.

Proponents say the people mover, a type of rapid transit system, would seamlessly connect air travelers with the Ronkonkoma train station, nearby hotels and the downtown.

Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt said she was concerned about “putting the cart before the horse.”

“Perhaps the community doesn’t want a people mover. Perhaps there’s no need for a people mover,” she said.

Helming his first board meeting since Supervisor Tom Croci left for military service, acting supervisor Eric Hofmeister said the application is due on Monday and the $900,000 state grant, if awarded, can always be rejected by the town board.

“Any way you look at it, it comes from another pocket of our residents,” Councilman Anthony Senft said of the grant money. He requested more information “before I sign off on spending a million dollars of their money.” The board voted to pass the resolution with only Senft opposing.


Mangano: Make Nassau's Roads The Safest In The Nation For Pedestrians, Bicyclists And Drivers

Posted by Long Island Matters on August 7, 2013 at 11:10 PM Comments comments (0)


By Long Island News & PRs Published: August 07 2013

In an effort to continue his administration’s goal in making Nassau’s roads the safest in the nation, Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano announced today ...


Nassau County, NY - August 6th, 2013 - In an effort to continue his administration’s goal in making Nassau’s roads the safest in the nation, Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano announced today that the County Legislature approved his Complete Streets program that ensures Nassau will consider all users ofroadways, pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders in planning and design of new and current roadways.

“The standards and guidelines set forth by Complete Streets will help us better plan road projects to make Nassau’s roads the safest they can be at all times for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers alike,” stated County Executive Mangano. “Not only does this law encourage residents to walk, bicycle and take public transportation, it also helps create a situation that will relieve congestion and pollution caused by motor vehicles.”

By including Complete Streets principles in the design and construction of future road projects, Nassau County will be able to accommodate and facilitate safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. These design principles include paved shoulders and bicycle lanes suitable to encourage bicycle riders. Other designs would improve sidewalks, signage, crosswalks, pedestrian signalization and traffic calming methods designed to allow pedestrian and motor vehicles to safely coexist.

“The importance of pedestrian and driver safety cannot be understated. Both walkers and drivers must be alert when crossing an intersection. This program will help increase awareness of this topic and hopefully save lives.” said Presiding Officer Norma L. Gonsalves.

In support of the Complete the Street program and plans to create safe walking, driving, and cycling conditions, Vision Long Island Executive Director Eric Alexander stated, “Vision Long Island is happy to hear that Nassau County is addressing pedestrian safety through policies aimed at substantive design changes of its roadways. With our region aging, a decline in car ownership among young people and an increase in staycations there are more people walking and biking on our streets. It's long overdue to make them safe.”

“From 2009-2011, 84 pedestrians were killed on roads in Nassau County,” said Ryan Lynch, associate director for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Adoption and implementation of a Complete Streets policy will not only help prevent these tragic fatalities, but also create the transportation choices that add resiliency into our transportation system, helping residents weather future storms like Hurricane Sandy. County Executive Mangano and Nassau County’s legislative champions for Complete Streets should be applauded for their leadership, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign encourages the legislature to adopt the policy as soon as possible.”

Hud imposing rules to track diversity in Neighborhoods

Posted by Long Island Matters on August 7, 2013 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Obama administration using housing department to compel diversity in neighborhoods

By Doug McKelway
Published August 07, 2013

In a move some claim is tantamount to social engineering, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is imposing a new rule that would allow the feds to track diversity in America’s neighborhoods and then push policies to change those it deems discriminatory.

The policy is called, "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing." It will require HUD to gather data on segregation and discrimination in every single neighborhood and try to remedy it.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan unveiled the federal rule at the NAACP convention in July.

"Unfortunately, in too many of our hardest hit communities, no matter how hard a child or her parents work, the life chances of that child, even her lifespan, is determined by the zip code she grows up in. This is simply wrong,” he said.

Data from this discrimination database would be used with zoning laws, housing finance policy, infrastructure planning and transportation to alleviate alleged discrimination and segregation.

Specifics of the proposed rule are lacking. Now published in the Federal Register and undergoing a 60-day comment period, the rule, "does not prescribe or enforce specific” policies.

But one critic says it smacks of utopian idealism.

"This is just the latest of a series of attempts by HUD to social engineer the American people," said Ed Pinto, of the American Enterprise Institute. "It started with public housing and urban renewal, which failed spectacularly back in the 50's and 60's. They tried it again in the 90's when they wanted to transform house finance, do away with down payments, and the result was millions of foreclosures and financial collapse.”

Some fear the rule will open the floodgates to lawsuits by HUD -- a weapon the department has already used in places like Westchester County, N.Y., where mayors and attorneys representing several towns, like Cortlandt, are writing HUD to protest burdensome fair housing mandates that go far beyond those agreed to in a 2009 settlement with HUD.

One letter written by Cortlandt town attorney Thomas Wood expresses a common dilemma.

"Cordlandt is mostly residential and has only a few vacant parcels that could be developed for commercial use," he writes. "In order to stabilize the tax base amongst the most affordable in Westchester County, the Town Board needs to encourage the development of commercial property for commercial use."

Rob Astorino, the Westchester County Executive recently said, "What they are trying to do is to say discrimination and zoning is the same thing. They are not. Discrimination won't be tolerated. I won't tolerate it. Zoning though, protects what can and can't be built in a neighborhood."

Also troublesome to critics is that the HUD secretary, in announcing this proposed rule, blamed poverty on zip codes – rather than other socio-economic factors that studies have shown contribute to poverty.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/08/07/obama-administration-using-housing-department-to-compel-diversity-in/#ixzz2bLDvf3hV

Op-Ed: Big Developments Will Change the Fabric of LI

Posted by Long Island Matters on July 22, 2013 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Posted by Judy Mottl (Editor), July 16, 2013 at 04:02 pm


Op-Ed: Big Developments Will Change the Fabric of LI 

Why the public needs to get in the know about Islip Pines and other big multi-use projects around Long Island.

There has been much written about the "brain drain" on Long Island and the efforts to resolve it by constructing large scale, high density, mixed use housing developments.

It sounds great on paper...keeping our young people on Long Island by providing them with "affordable housing."

This strategy has garnered much support...at least by those who stand to make great financial and political gains by urbanizing suburbia. But there is a rapidly growing opposition to this tactic.

Long Islanders who value their communities are beginning to awaken to this overdevelopment of our communities and are unwilling to allow Long Island to become the "6th borough of New York City."

There is far more to this story than the developers' professional renderings indicate. We are not looking at affordable housing for young professionals here--not with rents in the $2000-$2500 range.

We are looking at overcrowded schools; police, fire, and rescue services being stretched beyond their capabilities; drastically increased traffic and wear and tear on roads that are already impossible to navigate at certain times; and a huge burden on social services and medical facilities.

The enormous weight of these ventures will fall on the shoulders of Long Island taxpayers and the environmental impact will be catastrophic. We will be experiencing a population density that the infrastructure of Long Island was never meant to handle.

I urge you to please give equal time to the other side of this rapidly developing story. Long Islanders deserve to know the truth about what is happening in their back yards--projects like Avalon Bay, Islip Pines and the Ronkonkoma Hub that are coming very close to fruition.

Long Island Matters is a grassroots organization of Long Islanders who want to preserve the way of life for which our parents and grandparents sacrificed so much. Our goal is to educate fellow Long Islanders about the current plan to irrevocably change the fabric of Long Island from suburb to city...from peaceful bedroom communities to a bustling metropolis.

Mary Calamia
Executive Director
Long Island Matters


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