Campaign for Responsible Development Now!
The Village of Port Chester is considering a major zoning change that will lead to massive new real estate development in the downtown area and other parts of the village. Without proper protections and community benefits, this new development could overcrowd our schools, cause rents to skyrocket and lead to the displacement of longtime residents and small businesses.
Because Port Chester taxpayers will be asked to give developers major gifts like big tax breaks and the right to develop on our public land, we deserve for this rezoning to include real protections and benefits like the following:
- affordable housing
- protections against displacing residents and small businesses
- good jobs/careers for Port Chester residents with training opportunities
- responsible contractors who pay fair wages and provide safe working conditions
- funding for our schools
The Village Government is planning a major zoning change that will lead to massive new real estate development downtown and other areas in Port Chester.
- The Port Chester Village government is planning to rewrite village zoning code to allow developers to build many new large apartment and office buildings downtown and in three other areas around the village.
- The plan could lead to major new development that dramatically changes the following areas:
- The downtown waterfront, between the Byram River and Abendroth Avenue
- Around the train station, between Pearl Street and Abendroth Avenue
- The lower waterfront area, between Columbus Park and Westchester Avenue
- Fox Island
- Around the circle by Gateway Park, where the gas station sits on Putnam Avenue
- Around Boston Post Road1
We can call this zoning change an “up-zoning,” and up-zonings are gifts from government to developers because they increase property values.
- It is called “rezoning” when local governments rewrite their zoning codes. When a rezoning is done to permit the construction of new larger buildings, it is sometimes called an “up-zoning.” Up-zonings are like a gift from government (and its taxpayers) to developers because they instantly increase the value of the land that is rezoned.
- In fact, even though it has not yet been approved by the Board of Trustees, the planning of the up-zoning of downtown Port Chester is already causing commercial real estate values to rise in the area.2
Without protections, up-zonings can have harmful effects for communities. They can cause rents to become too high for residents and small businesses to afford.
- When up-zonings cause commercial real estate values to increase, this can cause rents to rise for business owners. Rent can become too high for businesses to afford and they may have to shut down or relocate.
- For example, New Rochelle passed a major up-zoning of their downtown in December 2015, and small businesses that have been operating in downtown New Rochelle for years are now starting to shutter or relocate.3
- Up-zonings can also cause residential rents to rise in the surrounding areas, especially if they do not include requirements that developers build enough affordable housing. This can cause long-time residents to have to leave their homes.
- Unfortunately, recent apartment developments in downtown Port Chester have not included any affordable housing at all, and rents at these buildings have been too high for most village residents, at more than $3,000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment.
But the up-zoning of Port Chester must work for all Port Chester residents – not just wealthy real estate developers. Because all of us are giving gifts to the developers to make it possible.
- To make it work for all of us, the up-zoning of Port Chester must include protections that minimize the chances that residents and small businesses get displaced by rising rents.
- The new apartment buildings should include at least 20% affordable housing at rents that families currently living in downtown Port Chester can afford.
- Additionally, construction made possible by the up-zoning should be performed by responsible contractors that provide workers with family-sustaining wages and benefits and life-saving apprenticeship training.
- The construction should also create not just jobs for local residents but opportunities for residents to gain careers in the union building trades.
- We also need protections to ensure that the new development does not bring in too many new schoolchildren and cause Port Chester schools to become even more crowded.
- We have a right to demand these things – not only because it is OUR village, but also because we will be asked to give major gifts to the developers to make the new development happen.
- As we mentioned earlier, an up-zoning is already a major gift to developers because allowing larger development on a property increases the property value.
- The proposed up-zoning of Port Chester includes plans to build on public land – property that is owned by us, the taxpayers of Port Chester.
- Developers will also apply for millions of dollars in tax-exemptions.
The Port Chester Board of Trustees will review the planned zoning changes. We have to make our demands clear to them and tell them, “No up-zoning without real community protections and community benefits!”
- The zoning changes will have to be reviewed and voted on by the Port Chester Board of Trustees.
- There will be several opportunities for public comment.
- We need Port Chester residents to join our campaign to make sure the voices of everyday residents are heard during this process. It’s up to all of us to fight to ensure that the up-zoning of Port Chester creates affordable housing and good jobs, not an affordability crisis in our community!