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Not a coveted spot
Nassau County tops a new list released this week — but development advocates wish it didn’t.
The county ranks first on a roster of 17 suburban counties in the metropolitan area for being the most unfriendly to transit-oriented development — despite having the infrastructure that could support it.
According to a study by the Regional Plan Association, Nassau has 16 train stations in communities whose zoning won’t allow multifamily and mixed-use development, even though they have all of the tools — especially sewers — to build the combination of housing, retail and commercial that could attract young workers and millennials.
That’s more than double second place Somerset County’s seven such stations in New Jersey.
Suffolk, meanwhile, ranked eighth on the association’s list, with just four stations in areas that don’t allow transit-oriented development but had the infrastructure to sustain them. In Suffolk’s case, of course, sewers remain a critical missing piece for some communities.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Long Island got a shout-out in the RPA report. Patchogue was highlighted as an example of “how valuable and enjoyable village centers can be.”
The report comes as the RPA is readying its fourth regional plan — a project it undertakes every few decades. Perhaps by the time the fifth such plan emerges, the Nassau Hub, Hicksville and Heartland Town Square will be highlighted as development success stories.
Or, maybe not.
Randi F. Marshall
Reclaim New York, the activist small-government group founded by Rebekah Mercer, is turning its sights toward Nassau County legislators, wanting them to vouch that all the county fees they’re paying are legal.
Even though the legislature last month stripped $60 million in fee hikes from County Executive Edward Mangano’s proposed budget, Brendan Muir of Reclaim NY told The Point, “there are still illegal fees that have been there for many budget cycles.”
He won’t get an argument from Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell, whose office is responsible for charging fees for services for recording mortgages, deeds and satisfactions. In an endorsement interview with Newsday’s editorial board, O’Connell described comforting a woman who was crying over a $1,000 bill for recording a mortgage satisfaction — a document saying she had paid off her home.
“It’s a sham,” said O’Connell, who has testified before the legislature urging lawmakers to stop hiking the fees to balance the county budget. She said she and Suffolk County Clerk Judith Pascale have taken an interest in a movement to standardize the fees across New York State, and take this power from the counties.
Muir’s group is already part of a lawsuit contending that Suffolk County fees, such as $200 for tax map verification and $300 for mortgage recordings, are illegal because they’re not in line with the cost of providing the service. Instead, the proceeds are going into the county’s general fund to bolster what Muir called an fundamentally out-of-balance budget.
The conservative group has made some noise about taking its lawsuit to Nassau County, as well, but the political theater of calling out individual legislators is likely the first move. “We want to say to them, be honest, look the taxpayer in the eye, and tell them these fees are legal,” Muir said.
Made in China
Winner will offer a clue
Mayor Bill de Blasio is here for another four years, but a major partner in city government is TBD: the City Council speaker, formally chosen by that body’s members in January to replace term-limited Melissa Mark-Viverito of Manhattan.
The new speaker will help oversee an $80-billion-plus budget and controls which legislation comes up for a vote. But the “race” for speaker has less to do with policy differences (there are few) among candidates and more to do with popularity, and racial, borough, union and county party dynamics.
Council insiders say three candidates appear to be most successfully navigating the mélange.
Corey Johnson and Mark Levine, both of Manhattan and members of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, have been running for months. A main Johnson pitch is that he wouldn’t be a yes-man for the mayor, important for institutionalists in the council, despite having fundraised for de Blasio. Levine is often aligned with the administration while still being quick to point to differences.
Both may face some difficulties because they are not black, Hispanic or female, important constituencies in NYC.
This may have helped a third contender, Robert Cornegy, an African-American council member from Brooklyn who played basketball for St. John’s. But Cornegy is practically a moderate in the council, as an advocate for Airbnb’s presence and supporter of some charter school causes.
Whoever wins will likely do so after backroom compromises — perhaps the usual alliance between the Bronx and Queens, or the weight-throwing of de Blasio, Rep. Joseph Crowley or Rep. Hakeem Jeffries for these or other candidates. But look for the winner to clue the council’s direction and relationship with the mayor for the next four years.