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Study: Multifamily housing projects barely increase student enrollment

The Patchogue-Medford school district saw the smallest financial

The Patchogue-Medford school district saw the smallest financial gain from housing projects, generating $54,920 in real estate tax revenue from the New Village development, above, in Patchogue. Credit: Randee Daddona

Multifamily housing developments built across Long Island during the past decade are not causing significant enrollment increases in area school districts, with revenue generated from the projects exceeding the cost of additional students the districts must educate, according to a study released Thursday.

The report, commissioned by the Long Island Regional Planning Council, examined seven multifamily communities — two in Mineola and one each in Farmingdale, Garden City, Yaphank, Huntington and Patchogue — all with at least 150 units that were built within a mile of mass transit since 2012.

The analysis found that while the Mineola, Longwood and Uniondale school districts saw increases in student enrollment over the past decade, the residential projects accounted for less than 20% of that gain in school-age children.

The Farmingdale, Huntington and Patchogue-Medford school districts saw net declines in enrollment from 2010 through 2019, despite new residential projects in those communities, the report found.

Todd Poole, president of 4ward Planning Inc, the study's author, says the analysis debunks a common myth among NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) opponents to new residential projects — that new housing will overwhelm school districts with new students.

"These numbers demonstrate that the increase in enrollment in these districts were not driven by the number of kids coming from these residential projects," Poole said during Thursday's Regional Planning Council meeting. "It is important to understand that in many cases … when there is pushback on the development of multifamily residential projects, often times it's because those in opposition believe that the residential projects will dramatically increase the number of public school-age kids."

Opposition to developments listed in the report, including the 303-unit Avalon at Huntington and the 291-unit New Village at Patchogue — along with those not studied in Wyandanch, Hauppauge and Long Beach — have focused on concerns about parking or an influx of new students.

The report also found the new development projects generated a financial benefit to the school district.

For example, Avalon at Huntington added 56 students to local schools — the most of any development studied — costing the school district $8,160 per student or a total of $456,942, the report found. But the real estate tax revenue or direct payments generated by the project was $849,485, for a net surplus to the district of $392,543, Poole said.

The Mineola School District, which saw just 22 new students from the One Third Avenue and Allure Mineola developments, saw the biggest benefit — a total of $737,456 in the 2020-21 school year — while the smallest impact was in Patchogue-Medford district, which generated $54,920 from the New Village development.

"In the case of revenue versus school costs, these projects are more than paying for themselves," Poole said.

The report also examined another frequent criticism of new residential communities: that they will create a parking crunch in downtown districts.

The study found multifamily communities provide enough on-site parking that they don't exacerbate parking demands in commercial areas while many residents, often millennials or empty nesters, frequently forgo driving and rely on public transportation.

John Cameron, chairman of the planning council, says the study is critical for growing Long Island's scarce supply of rental housing.

"It's debunking a myth that's been out there for many, many years," Cameron said. "It's critical that we get this information out there."

Jeff Kraut, the council's treasurer and an executive vice president for strategy and analytics at Northwell Health, said, "It's so critical to replace fear-based or uninformed comments with fact-based comments that drives smart growth."

Development Units Year built Municipality School district

Jefferson Plaza 154 2015 Farmingdale (village) Farmingdale

Avalon Garden City 204 2012 Hempstead (town) Uniondale

One Third Avenue 315 2016 Mineola (village) Mineola

The Allure Mineola 275 2015 Mineola (village) Mineola

Reserve at the Boulevard 240 2016 Brookhaven (town) Longwood

Avalon at Huntington 303 2014 Huntington (town) Huntington

New Village at Patchogue 291 2014 Patchogue (village) Patchogue-

Medford

Source: Multifamily Housing Development Impacts in Long Island Communities; School District Enrollment and Budget Trends

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