Earlier today I was reading this article about “cupcake moms” at the local PTA mobilizing online against TOD in Huntington Station, a hamlet in Long Island, and while it looked like your average suburban NIMBY story, this part of the Long Island Press story jumped out at me:
[Supervisor] Petrone had reportedly wanted this revitalization project for the former urban renewal area as his legacy to the town, but he won’t get it now. Instead he was reportedly blindsided by Cuthbertson’s switch last Thursday.
Sources told the Press that Cuthbertson withdrew his support because Huntington Democratic Party insiders wanted to take the housing issue off the table so Republicans couldn’t use it against the Democratic incumbents in the elections next year. Councilwoman Susan Berland, who had straddled the fence for months, finally came out against the AvalonBay proposal this summer. She wanted less density.
I guess we can count this as a point in favor of Matt Yglesias’ suggestion to isolate local elections from party politics by making the races non-partisan.
Another part of the story that I found interesting was all the people hearkening back to their childhoods and their parents’ motivations for moving out of NYC to Long Island and using these as excuses not to let developers build on this site. This is pretty ironic, considering that the development was to be built on a plot of land that was once occupied by housing that was razed in the 1950s in an urban renewal scheme.
I’m a few months late to all this, but it was apparently an important battle in the broader war over land use in Long Island – so much so that there was a post mortem held by a Long Island smart growth group that Newsday covered here and here. The articles are, unfortunately, well gated, but if there are any NYC-area Optimum Online or Newsday subscribers out there, please e-mail me (smithsj[at]gmail[dot]com), because I’d love to learn more about this.
Anybody know of any other local land use decisions that were influenced by party politics?
Edit: Not sure how I forgot to include this since it was the whole reason I chose to post it, but the affordable housing is mandated by local inclusionary zoning – no developer would voluntarily seek out below-market rents. So essentially the developer was forced to include “affordable” units, which then became the very reason that the community rejected the proposal.