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Long Islanders Worry Zoning Changes Could Eliminate Single-Family Neighborhoods

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Kathy Hochul's budget proposal could lead to zoning changes.

Some Long Islanders fear the elimination of single-family neighborhoods, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported Thursday.

Raheel Ahmad moved his family from Brooklyn to East Meadow.

"The natural environment, the open space, I would say more fresh air, and I want to keep that. I don't want to go back to the city life," Ahmad said.

Dozens of lawmakers gathered on Ahmad's street to express grave concerns that within the proposed state budget in Albany are changes to local zoning, allowing basement, garage or attic apartments in single-family homes or separate units, so-called granny flats, to be built on a property.

"Land use. That is the province of towns and villages, and this is a power grab. It's an attack on the suburbs. It's an attack on suburban way of living," Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said.

In a statement, Gov. Hochul's office responded, "... the proposed bill would further the rights of individual homeowners to determine how best to use their property... "

Others claim they were blindsided by this accessory dwelling units portion of the budget.

"The governor is attempting to basically mandatorily require anybody who wants it to put an accessory unit on their house," Hempstead Town Supervisor Donald Clavin said.

Lawrence Levy, dean of Hofstra's National Center for Suburban Studies, said, "The lack of affordable housing that this can address... the high taxes and other expenses, it provides an extra source of revenue."

It also addresses Long Island's ugly history of segregation.

"This is not a situation where we're creating floodgates. We're just creating an opportunity where someone can open the door and come into a place that everybody else wants to gain," said attorney Frederick Brewington.

Even among supporters, it is not a panacea. It would require serious code enforcement and should not be an excuse to stop building affordable housing near transit in village downtowns.

Opponents of accessory dwelling units worry about the impact on schools, parking and traffic.

Click here to read the Hofstra University study.

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