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NYCLU fears ReZone may harm Syracuse's most vulnerable

Syracuse ReZone logo.
Syracuse ReZone logo.

As Syracuse struggles with a housing shortage, especially affordable housing, debate over whether ReZone Syracuse will help or harm the city’s most vulnerable residents continues amongst Common Council members, who will vote on the plan this afternoon.

While its proponents tout it as a solution, Lanessa Owens-Chaplin, Environment Justice Attorney of the New York Civil Liberties Union, says there’s not enough in the plan to guarantee more affordable — or less segregated — housing in Syracuse.

The city "will still be segregated by race and income," Owens-Chaplin said. "And they’re doing nothing to address those issues. I think as a community we have to figure out how we’re going to uplift everyone. That’s not what’s happening in this plan."

Owens-Chaplin says she worries this modern rezoning effort will continue to harm Syracuse’s Black and brown communities.

"There’s this unwarranted rush to pass it on Friday because developers are waiting to develop," she noted. "And it’s just simply they’re putting the needs of developers over the needs of the people in the city."

According to ReZone Syracuse, 10-12% of units of larger residential developments should be set aside as affordable housing. Councilor Patrick Hogan acknowledges that developers can currently opt out of this, but he says this and other parts of the plan can be changed in the future.

"We look at this as a living breathing document," Hogan said. "We’re not going to sit this on the shelf and let it gather dust like the last one did. We are going to amend when needed."

Including, he says, to accommodate changes brought by companies like Micron.

Syracuse was last rezoned in 1967.