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Village tables pledge on housing

The Fredonia Board of Trustees has tabled a housing pledge resolution pushed by the state government, so the village Planning Board can review.

The “Pro-Housing Communities” pledge program is an initiative pushed by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration, linked to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of grants. The city of Dunkirk’s council passed the pledge last year.

“We’ve talked about how important our Planning Board is to us and how important the comprehensive plan is,” Mayor Michael Ferguson said. “While I have talked to a couple members of the Planning Board, I’d like to present it to them so they’re aware of what we’re doing.”

Fredonia’s resolution, similar to Dunkirk’s and based on wording provided by the state, notes that “the housing crisis has negative effects at regional and local levels, (and) we believe that every community must do their part to contribute to housing growth and benefit from the positive impacts a healthy housing market brings to communities.”

The resolution states the pledge will commit Fredonia to “streamlining permitting for multifamily housing, affordable housing, accessible housing, accessory dwelling units and supportive housing.” It would also enact policies that encourage such development, and that “affirmatively further fair housing.”

The trustees’ move to have the Planning Board review the pledge came after two Fredonia residents with a long Village Hall history suggested it.

Sam Drayo, former village attorney, said of the pledge, “Hopefully the intent on that is not to do away with our single family neighborhoods, which is a great advantage to our village.”

“It’s for the pro-housing initiative. It’s not changing the housing at all,” Ferguson said.

“Let the Planning Board take a look at that. It can’t do any harm, Mayor,” Drayo replied.

Former Trustee James Lynden also spoke about the issue.

“There was little to no discussion about this program,” he said. “It incentivises developers and contractors with tax deductions and cash incentives in different ways that the average person won’t get… It’s almost another name for something that happened years ago in Dunkirk, the ‘urban renewal’ that didn’t do too well for our neighboring community.”

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