2018 General Election Ballot and Proposal No. One “An Amendment for Independent Redistricting”.


 

By Rebecca Martin

(Click on the image to view the Ulster County Board of Elections Sample Ballot)

Attached is a copy of the 2018 General Election Ballot that includes Proposal Number One, “An Amendment Shall Section C-10 of the Ulster County Charter be amended to provide for the creation of an independent Redistricting Commission, designed to exclude political influence in revising county legislative districts, as proposed and unanimously approved by the Ulster County Charter Revision Commission.”  Make sure on election day, that you turn the ballot over to find the referendum, located on the back of the ballot. 

 

The Ulster County Board of elections has posted this abstract about the referendum:

“The purpose of this Ballot Question is to allow the voters of Ulster County to determine whether the Ulster County Charter should be amended to provide for the creation of an independent Redistricting Commission. The County is required to periodically reexamine the boundaries of its legislation districts based on changes in populations. The Ulster County Charter Revision Commission was convened pursuant to the Charter to create a method for doing so. It has proposed a method of reapportionment of the 23 Ulster County legislative districts, which is the subject of this Ballot Question. Under the proposal, a new redistricting Commission will be created every ten years following each census. The Commission will consist of seven members. Four members will be chosen by the majority and minority leaders of the County Legislature. The remaining three will be chosen by those appointees. The final legislative district map will not require approval by the County Legislature. The proposal prohibits elected officials from serving on the Commission and establishes principals to be used in creating districts.  It is proposed after having been unanimously approved by the Ulster County Charter Revision Commissions.

If a majority voting on this Questions votes NO, the proposed Charter revision will not be adopted.

If a majority votes YES, the proposed Charter revision will be adopted.

Gerald Benjamin, from the Benjamin Center, and who played a meaningful role in the Ulster County Charter Commission from a decade or so ago recently blogged about the referendum.

“What most people in Ulster County may not know is that we are among the handful of places in the country that doesn’t have this problem. That’s because our county charter gives us a process for neutral non-partisan legislative redistricting. And it has worked. The districts for the current, closely divided county legislature were drawn through this non-partisan process. But in doing this the first time around we found out that there were some flaws in our design, and we needed to take further steps to be sure that it was more inclusive and effective while remaining non-partisan. “

READ “Your Most Important Vote This November Is Hidden on the Second Page of the Ballot”

 

KingstonCitizens.org supports Proposal Number One. 

 

VOTE!

Please Vote on November 6th. Find your polling place by visiting HERE.

GUEST EDITORIAL: A Landmark Day for Landmarks

By Marissa Marvelli

October 17 was a great day for historic preservation in Kingston for three reasons:

1) Mayor Noble, in presenting his proposed budget for 2019, announced that he is creating a permanent part-time preservation administrator position in the Planning Department. Members of the community have been advocating for such a position for years. If the Common Council approves the Mayor’s budget, The City of Kingston will soon have a knowledgeable person on staff to answer questions about district boundaries, help applicants with projects needing commission approval, promote historic tax credit opportunities, advance municipal preservation goals, and more.   (Click on image to review Mayor Steve Noble’s 2019 Budget Announcement starting at 15:50 – 16:36)

2) Following the Mayor’s budget presentation, the Common Council’s Laws & Rules Committee convened for its monthly meeting. Chair Bill Carey announced that the committee is no longer considering the Corporation Counsel’s draft legislation to merge the Heritage Area and Historic Landmarks Preservation Commissions (HLPC). Instead, other solutions are being studied to improve the efficiency of the two commissions, such as eliminating overlapping application reviews.  

3) Carey then welcomed two members of the HLPC to present new draft legislation that, if adopted, would swap Kingston’s existing preservation ordinance with one that is more comprehensible and consistent with national standards. Vice Chair Marissa Marvelli explained that legislation being proposed is based on the 2014 New York State Model Preservation Law, which was crafted by the New York State Historic Preservation Office and the Preservation League of New York. It uses language that is concise and clear; incorporates standards and practices that have been developed over the last three decades; stipulates a greater degree of interfacing between the HLPC and city government so that the Commission does not operate in a silo; and codifies the requirements of the Certified Local Government Program, of which Kingston is a participant.   (Click on image below to view new preservation model law)

This proposed ordinance incorporates some minor changes recommended by the Corporation Counsel’s office, namely measures that enable alternate members to be appointed, allow the mayor to remove a member for cause, and stipulate the Zoning Board of Appeals as the appeal body for HLPC decisions. It also proposes new preservation tools to protect scenic landmarks, publicly-accessible interiors, sites of exceptional significance that are less than 50 years old, and sites that may contain important pre-historic information or archaeological evidence worthy of documentation.

The net effect of these improvements is greater clarity and efficiency with the management of Kingston’s historic resources, which in turn will help the community better engage in the process. Kingston adopted its existing ordinance more than 30 years ago. It’s high time that it be reevaluated. By adopting the updated ordinance, the Common Council would be re-affirming the relevance and importance of preserving Kingston’s extraordinary heritage for a new generation. Let’s give them all the encouragement they need.

 

MATERIALS

READ: HLPC’s proposed ordinance.

VIEW: A detailed explanation of the changes as presented at the October HLPC meeting.

A Correct Path for a Complete and Proper Reset of Historic Preservation in Kingston (and just in time).   

By Rebecca Martin

At last evening’s Kingston’s Historic Preservation Landmarks Commission (HLPC), the group introduced a draft of an updated preservation ordinance, modeled after the 2014 preservation ordinance, in accordance with the Certified Local Government guidelines (SHPO) and with preservation ordinances from Saratoga Springs, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester.

Kingston having the rich history that it does, and seemingly everyone’s support to preserve it, requires clear guidelines, policies and laws which we simply haven’t had in place for a long time. Additionally, and for decades, the City of Kingston’s HLPC has been siloed from everything else. Today, we are on a clear path for a complete and proper reset of what is old and fragmented preservation guidelines. We encourage everyone to view this 50-minute discussion.  It’s illuminating and exciting to see a process like this being handled so professionally.

You can follow along with the video (starting at 2:00) and the powerpoint presentation (click on image below for the entire PowerPoint) created by HLPC’s Vice Chair Marissa Marvelli.

Kingston Preservation Ordinance Objectives

CLARITY.

  1. Removes Chapter 264: Historic and Architectural Design Districts which currently only applies to the Stockade.

  2. Offers a stronger structure in that it states up front the ordinance’s legislative intent, followed by the general and administrative duties of the commission.

  3. Uses clearer phrasing and terminology to explain criteria for designations, application review, affirmative maintenance, declaration of hardship, and enforcement.

  4. Codifies requirements of Certified Local Government (CLG): training, reports, inventory and other duties.

ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES.

  1. Alternate members

  2. Removal of members for cause

  3. Costs of operation

  4. Lengthens commission approval to 24 months

  5. Stipulates ZBA as the appeal body

 

NEW TOOLS/MEASURES PROPOSED.

  1. Broadens definition of what can be considered a historic resource to include something that may yield information important to prehistory; a property that has achieved significance within the last 50 years; publically-accessible interiors; and scenic landmarks, possible examples being Company Hill Path and Hasbrouck Park summit.

  2. Acknowledges that sites may contain important archaeological resources and that they need to be documented.

  3. Establishes inventory of eligible landmarks

Invitation to Webinar (Earn Credits) Tuesday, September 25 @ 3pm: Living in the “G” Zone: GlidePath, Peak Energy Power Plants and Zoning.

KingstonCitizens.org is presenting a webinar specifically for all planning and zoning professionals living in the “G” Zone (Ulster, Orange, Greene, Rockland, Putnam and Dutchess Counties). We hope that you or someone you delegate can attend on Tuesday, September 25 from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm.     A Q&A segment will be allotted at the end of the presentations moderated by Rebecca Martin of KingstonCitizens.org.

Please register to attend webinar:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6696709002886678019

Attendance to this free webinar event provides credits for the following: AICP (American Institute of Professional Planners) and NYS Planning and Zoning Board

This webinar event is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org in partnership with Scenic Hudson, Citizens for Local Power and Riverkeeper.   With support from TownOfUlsterCitizens.org, CAPP-NY, Catskill Mountainkeeper, NP Climate Action Coalition. Additional supporters TBA. 

OVERVIEW

Invitees will include municipal officials, county and municipal planning departments, and professional planners.

This webinar will discuss the economic and regulatory framework that is compelling developers of small “peaker” power plants to site projects in the Hudson Valley, and what municipalities can do to protect their communities from the impacts of these plants. While larger power plants are regulated under New York State’s Article 10, these smaller facilities are primarily under local jurisdiction.

Most municipalities in the Hudson Valley do not specifically address power plants in their zoning codes and could be vulnerable to an ill-sited project, such as the Lincoln Park Power Plant proposed in the Town of Ulster.

This webinar will provide zoning strategies and model ordinance language that municipalities can use to ensure that power plants—if they are permitted at all–are restricted to areas where undesirable environmental, public health and quality of life effects would not impact community character.

SPEAKERS

Evelyn Wright, PhD – is an economist with 20 years of experience in climate and energy policy analysis. She is Founder and Principal at Sustainable Energy Economics, as well as developer of FACETS framework for analysis of climate-energy-technology systems. At the US Environmental Protection Agency, she led the development of the agency’s MARKAL modeling and scenario analysis team. She was a lead modeler training local experts and guiding development of national planning models in eleven Southeast and Eastern European states on behalf of USAID. Evelyn currently works with Citizens for Local Power, a community-based organization working to create a local, clean energy economy in the Mid-Hudson region. Dr. Wright has also taught economics and environmental policy at Franklin and Marshall College, Towson University, and The Washington Center. She holds a PhD in Ecological Economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Hayley Carlock, Esq. – is Director of Environmental Advocacy at Scenic Hudson, where she spearheads multi-disciplinary environmental campaigns. Hayley uses tools including litigation, advocacy and grassroots coalition-building to fight threats to the Hudson River and natural resources in New York’s Hudson Valley. She has worked on numerous environmental and energy issues including the Superfund cleanup of PCBs in the Hudson River, energy facility siting, hydrofracking, drinking water and environmental impact review. Hayley has led Scenic Hudson’s successful initiatives to stop the Hudson River from becoming a crude oil superhighway and to halt plans for 43 new industrial barge anchorages on the Hudson. She also helped negotiate Scenic Hudson’s win-win settlement with LG Electronics that reduced the height of its planned corporate headquarters atop New Jersey’s iconic Palisades by more than half, significantly minimizing its impacts on spectacular Palisades views. Prior to joining Scenic Hudson, Hayley worked in private practice for a small litigation firm in the Hudson Valley. She earned her J.D., cum laude, from Vermont Law School in 2009, where she concentrated in environmental law. She is a member of the bar of the State of New York.

WHAT’S NEXT

We plan to record and distribute the webinar as a video, but we hope you will attend so you can participate in Q&A and discussion. (The Q&A portion of the webinar will not be recorded or distributed, to facilitate open discussion.)

“Strong” Turnout for Press Conference on the Proposed GlidePath Fossil-Fuel Power Plant in Town of Ulster.

Today, over 25 residents gathered at a press conference organized by TownOfUlsterCitizens.org and Pat Strong, candidate for District 46 State Senate. The group met on Riesely Street in the Town of Ulster, a densely populated residential neighborhood and ‘ground zero’ for the proposed Lincoln Park Grid Support Center, a gas-fired fossil power plant project by GlidePath.

“Glidepath, a company from Illinois, who has never built a fossil fuel project, wants to come into our town, and build something we don’t want, we don’t need, and that gives us no benefits whatsoever.” said Laura Hartmann, one of the founding members of TownOfUlsterCitizens.org. “They come because they can get their emissions permits easier because of our clean air.  They come because of the financial incentive from NYS of $1.4 million before they even flip the on switch.”

Read more…

GUEST EDITORIAL: Beyond ‘Streamlining’ – Improving Kingston’s Preservation and Heritage Programs

Click on Imagine to review educational panel “Historic Preservation in the City of Kingston: Re-thinking the Review Process”

By Marissa Marvelli

On September 19th, the Kingston Common Council’s Laws & Rules Committee may discuss whether or not to throw out or to table the Corporation Counsel office’s draft legislation to merge the Heritage Area and Historic Landmarks Preservation Commissions. It will be nearly the fourth consecutive meeting for which this matter has been a topic, and it’s our opinion that the Council should not hesitate to throw out the legislation and instead, continue on the promising path that they are on now.

The council members who serve on the committee deserve praise for their careful study of the Corporation Counsel’s draft legislation and the reasons why it is being proposed. After a lot of information-gathering—particularly at their meeting in July where they heard directly from program administrators—it appears the broad consensus of the committee is that merging the commissions will not meaningfully address issues concerning the regulatory review process, and in fact, may create new problems.  

And what are the issues exactly? What problems is “streamlining” meant to solve? Were other solutions considered before the legislation was put forward? No one could say for sure. The reasons repeated by city administration is that merging the commissions is a recommendation of the now disbanded Comp Plan Re-zoning Subcommittee without sharing any notes that show how that conclusion was reached. At face value, the idea to eliminate one step in the public review process by combining two related volunteer commissions would seem like a rational change. Why make an applicant appear before two separate commissions for a new business sign? No one is arguing in favor of such redundancy, but is there another way to solve this?

Read more…

SAMPLE BALLOT. Primary Day is September 13th. Vote!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Rebecca Martin

On Thursday, September 13th, the primary election will occur with polls open from 12:00pm – 9:00pm.  FIND YOUR POLLING PLACE.

In the City of Kingston, registered Democrats and members of the Reform party will have the opportunity to choose their candidate for the races listed below.   You may REVIEW the sample ballot in advance as well as to click on the links below to be taken to the webpages of each individual candidate.

Please vote!

Read more…

Town of Ulster Lawyer Reject Professionals and ToU Residents Request for Temporary Moratorium on Construction of Power Plants for Zoning Review.

Last evening, the Town of Ulster Town Board met for their regular monthly meeting. Although Town of Ulster residents and coalition partners/professionals requested that a “…temporary moratorium be placed on power plants to allow time to review zoning” be added to the agenda prior to the Monday deadline at 4:00 pm of this week, the Town Board rejected their request.

Because the item was not placed on the agenda, the public – who filled the room – were made to wait until the end of the meeting to address the Town Board. Items on the agenda can be addressed by the public prior to the start of the meeting. Items not on the agenda can be addressed by the public at the end of regular business.

During the meeting (where the Town Board approved one negative declaration in SEQR after another on new build projects in the town), when inquiring citizens asked questions about projects that were being discussed, they were met with eye rolls and sneers by some of the developers, town board members and even the Supervisor himself, “…so you’re asking the town board to stop development…no I’m serious. What are you asking of the town board?”  (31:55 -34:14)

Incomplete segments of the public comment period were reported in today’s local paper, having left out important points that were made. Fortunately, you can review the audio from last evening as well as to tune into some of the key moments identified below.

 

 

40:51 -43:26
Laura Hartmann
Town of Ulster resident
TownOfUlsterCitizens.org

Submits 177 signatures from a letter submitted by residents of the Town of Ulster requesting that the Town Supervisor and Town Board publically state whether they consider the “GlidePath project a “Utility Company Structure” permitted as-of-right in the OM zone as GlidePath have been claiming and; That a growing number of ToU residents ask for a temporary moratorium on construction of power plants while it considers zoning that specifically regulates power plants.” When asked when/if the Town Board would comment or make a decision on these requests, Supervisor Quigley responded, “You’re making your comments to the town board, we acknowledge hearing you. Thank you.”

Read more…

TOOLKIT AND VIDEO – Residents of Ulster County and ‘G’ Zone Counties: Temporary Moratorium on Fossil-Fuel Power Plants To Address Zoning.

By Rebecca Martin

Last evening, approximately 150 people attended our public forum and community BBQ “Living in the ‘G’ Zone: GlidePath, Peak Power and Ulster County.

We learned that residents of Ulster County and vulnerable communities throughout the ‘G’ zone have no time to waste to address 25 MW fossil fuel power plants (where local communities have oversight) in their zoning ordinances.

As promised, we have created action items for both Town of Ulster residents AND all Ulster County residents and all of those living in the ‘G’ zone.

Video and PowerPoint from both presentations are available following our step by step actions.

We would like to keep track of the communities who pursue this information, so please send any updates to Rebecca Martin at rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org


Additional Resources
:

1.  VIEW  Ulster County Executive Mike Hein Statement re: GlidePath.

2. VIEW Coalition Letter to Town of Ulster: Temporary Moratorium on Power Plants to Address Zoning Code.  

 

TOOLKIT: Step by Step to Address Zoning and Peak Power Plants
This resident action was made possible by the generous support of Scenic Hudson, Citizens for Local Power and KingstonCitizens.org

 

ACTION FOR TOWN OF ULSTER RESIDENTS

Urge your municipality to place a moratorium on fossil-fuel burning power plants while they consider zoning that specifically addresses power plants.

The next Town of Ulster Town Board Meeting will occur on Thursday, August 16th at 7:00pm at the Town of Ulster Town Hall, 1 Town Hall Drive, Lake Katrine, NY.

1.First, in towns, zoning Must Be Consistent with Comprehensive Plans (NYS Town Law §  263)

2.Please request that the Town of Ulster Supervisor and Town Board adopt a temporary moratorium on construction of power plants while it considers zoning that specifically regulates power plants.

3.Demand that the town Supervisor and Town Board publicly state whether they consider the GlidePath project a “utility company structure” permitted as-of-right in the OM zone as GlidePath has been claiming.

 

ACTION FOR ULSTER COUNTY RESIDENTS AND ALL LIVING IN VULNERABLE AREAS IN THE ‘G’ ZONE. (Ulster, Greene, Orange, Dutchess, Rockland, Putnam Counties).

To ensure that your town doesn’t end up with a gas-fired power plant proposed just feet from a residential neighborhood, urge your municipality to place a moratorium on fossil-fuel burning power plants while they consider zoning that specifically addresses power plants.

Smaller “peaker” power plants (25 MW or less) are primarily under jurisdiction of local governments, and not “New York State” and are going to become increasingly prevalent throughout the Hudson Valley.

Most municipalities do not have zoning specifically regulating power plants.

Q.  Should power plants be allowed at all in our town? Would prohibiting them constitute impermissible exclusionary zoning? 

Not necessarily. NYS courts have stated that municipalities can ban industrial uses as long as prohibiting a use is a reasonable exercise of its police powers to prevent damage to the rights of others and to promote the interests of the community as a whole.
(Gernatt Asphalt Products v. Town of Sardinia)

If power plants are permitted in your town, how should our zoning regulate them?  They should only be permitted:

•In heavy industrial zones that are designated for uses that generate significant noise, traffic or pollutants and are far away from important environmental areas and residences;

•With a special use permit;

•Subject to strict conditions related to noise, stack height, etc.;

•Subject to minimum lot size and coverage (subject to underlying zoning requirements or can create specific new standards); and;

•With an enforceable decommissioning plan requiring restoration of the site to original condition or better.

 

VIDEO #1: “Living in the ‘G’ Zone: GlidePath, Peak Power and Ulster County.”

1:16 – 15:02
County Executive Mike Hein
“You’re here because you care about something that is fundamentally wrong and stopping it…your county executive is going to fight like hell to push back on this.”

15:10 – 17:55
Amanda LaValle, Department of the Environment, Ulster County
“Executive Order #2 of 2018 speaks to Ulster County’s commitment to renewable energy and insuring more renewable projects like the Town of Ulster Solar Landfill project, as well as to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our operations and going further to expand with a community emissions reduction goal of 80% over the 2012 baseline by 2050.

18:01 – 23:13
Laura Hartmann, TownOfUlsterCitizens.org
Welcome and Thanks

23:15 – 30:00
Rebecca Martin, KingstonCitizens.org
Welcome, Coalition Partners and Panel Opening

30:38 – 53:25
Evelyn Wright, Citizens for Local Power
Please follow along with her powerpoint available HERE

Solutions to GlidePath’s peak power plant proposal in the Town of Ulster:

1.Serve the distribution system: Non-wires alternatives. ConEd is actively looking for storage developers for projects downstate.

2. Hybridize existing peaker plants. NYS has 3000 MW of very old, very dirty peaker plants that need to make changes to meet new air regulations (again mostly downstate).

3. Partner with an industrial or commercial site that can use some of the batteries’ services.

4. Storage-plus-renewables. Renewables do not have to be co-located on the same site in order to get state incentives!

5. Storage only. Actively participate in the evolving NYISO and NYSERDA/PSC processes that will change the storage market landscape over the next two years AND design a storage-one project that benefits from those incentives.

53:40 – end
Hayley Carlock, Scenic Hudson
Please follow along with her powerpoint available HERE

The role that local zoning plays with smaller power plants generally. Urge your municipality to place a moratorium on fossil-fuel burning power plants while they consider zoning that specifically addresses power plants.

Here’s how.

1. First, in towns, zoning must be consistent with “Comprehensive Plans” (NYS Town Law § 263).

2. If power plants are permitted in our town, how should our zoning regulate them?

They should only be permitted:

•In heavy industrial zones that are designated for uses that generate significant noise, traffic or pollutants and are far away from important environmental areas and residences;

•With a special use permit;

•Subject to strict conditions related to noise, stack height, etc.;

•Subject to minimum lot size and coverage (subject to underlying zoning requirements or can create specific new standards); and;

•With an enforceable decommissioning plan requiring restoration of the site to original condition or better.

 

VIDEO #2:  “Living in the ‘G’ Zone: GlidePath, Peak Power and Ulster County.”

Hayley Carlock, Scenic Hudson (Continued)

00:00 – 1:35
ToU History on Solar Moratorium.

1:36 – 4:03
Action for Town of Ulster Residents

4:04 – 10:06
Action for Residents if you don’t live in the ToU.

10:07 – 12:46
Update on GlidePath and SEQR process

13:00 – End
Question and Answer period

Coalition Partners and Citizens Request Temporary Moratorium on GlidePath Power Plant Project in Town of Ulster

Coalition partners ask about a temporary moratorium on power plants in the Town of Ulster to review zoning code, as they did on Solar Energy Systems last September.

Out ahead of this evening’s Public Forum (8/10/18) “Living In the “G” Zone: Glidepath, Peak Power and Ulster County“, coalition partners, who have been working together since November of 2017 to encourage a fully transparent, public process as it pertains to the proposed Lincoln Park Grid Support Center (a gas-fired power plant in the Town of Ulster, NY), have requested a temporary moratorium on the proposal for the Town of Ulster Town Board to give “…clarity on whether the Town of Ulster Zoning Code (the “Zoning Code”) currently regulates gas-fired power plants, and specifically request a statement as to how the Town is treating the proposed Lincoln Park Grid Support Center (the “Project”) under the Zoning Code.”

“In 2017, the Town proposed a temporary moratorium on the installation of freestanding or ground-mounted solar energy systems. The Town’s stated rationale for doing so was that solar energy facilities are “not currently regulated in the Town of Ulster Zoning Code.” Therefore, a solar power generation facility does not, in the Town’s view, constitute a “utility company structure”. As both solar facilities and gas-fired power plants generate electricity, and a solar facility would very likely have fewer negative impacts than a gas-fired power plant, it makes no sense that a gas-fired power plant would be considered a “utility company structure” while a commercial solar facility would not. Therefore, we request that the Town clarify that the proposed Project is not an as-of-right permitted use within the OM District in the Town.”

TownOfUlsterCitizens.org will deliver a copy of the letter with signatures from residents at the Town of Ulster’s next Town Board meeting on August 16th.

An action for communities who are vulnerable in the “G” Zone (living in an attainment area that includes upper Orange, Ulster, Dutchess and Greene counties) will be led through steps to encourage their municipalities to shore up their zoning for peak energy plants that are 25mw’s or less at tonight’s public forum.  All materials, including video from today’s event, will be provided as a tool kit to be shared.

Read more…

CoK Mayor Steve Noble Advocates for Public Participation Plan for ToU Power Plant Proposal in Rondout’s Potential Environmental Justice Area.

In April, we learned that in during the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) SEQR Scoping comments regarding the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center (a gas-fired peak energy power plant in the Town of Ulster), state officials wrote that “If the air data indicates that the project’s potential impact area includes the Potential Environment Justice Area (in the City of Kingston’s Rondout) the applicant will be required to incorporate environmental justice into the permitting process and prepare a public participation plan as described in the attached environmental justice fact sheet.”

In the DEC’s Commissioner Policy #29 Environmental Justice and Permitting, the “policy amends the DEC environmental permit process by identifying potential environmental justice areas; providing information on environmental justice to applicants with proposed projects in those communities; enhancing public participation requirements for proposed projects in those communities; establishing requirements for projects in potential environmental justice areas with the potential for at least one significant adverse environmental impact; and providing alternative dispute resolution opportunities to allow communities and project sponsors to resolve issues of concern to the community.”

In the the City of Kingston, there are two “Potential Environmental Justice Areas“. One in Uptown and in the Rondout, downwind of potential emissions produced by the gas-fired power plant that is being proposed.

It was reported that the other comments about the environmental review of the project from the state include:

  1. Finding that the project is located within an area of potential historical or archeological significance and may have visual impacts on the Hudson River National Landmark Historic District.
  2. Requesting an evaluation of whether the project is consistent with the state energy plan and suggested the developer consult with the state Department of Public Service.
  3. Noting that the project site has the potential for a “high abundance and diversity of amphibians and other vernal pool associated wildlife.” State officials added that there are also potential impacts on habitat for the Northern Long-eared and Indiana bats due to planned tree removal.
  4. A reminder that some of the property appears on federal wetlands maps and that the developer will need to conduct surveys to establish precise boundaries.

Since then, the City of Kingston has not heard another word on how the project sponsor intends to respond to the DEC’s request.  On Tuesday of this week, Mayor Steve Noble sent a letter to the DEC’s Region 3 Regional Director Kelly Turturro to follow-up.

” … I ask that the DEC send a written notice to the applicant requesting that it immediately commence compliance with the requirements of the Department’s Environmental Justice Policy, as specific in the Department’s March 20, 2018 Comments on the Draft Scope. The City of Kingston, in which the PEJA area is located, specifically requests that the Department direct the Applicant to prepare and submit an enhanced participation plan for review and approval, so that it can be implemented before the public comment on the DEIS is opened. In this way, the intent of the Commissioner’s Policy is honored, and Kingston’s identified environmental justice community will be provided with sufficient time, tools and the opportunity to clearly voice, and have their comments be considered, on the proposed Lincoln Park Grid Support Center. “

For today, you can reach out to our Mayor and thank him for taking a proactive approach on this. Without having done so, it isn’t clear whether or not the applicant would have complied.  This will most certainly help.

Send your thanks to:  mayor@kingston-ny.gov

We’ll follow-up as we learn more.

VIDEO: Kingston Laws and Rules Committee Host Roundtable to Clarify Kingston Development Processes.

 

CITIZEN REQUEST.  Please request that the Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee throw out streamlining legislation and continue to collaborate with all relevant Kingston departments, boards and commissions to clarify the development process scenarios comprehensively in the City of Kingston. 

Contact:  Laws and Rules Committee Liaison to Streamlining Commissions:  Ward 9 Alderwoman Andrea Shaut at:  ward9@kingston-ny.gov

By Rebecca Martin

In April of this year, draft legislation to “streamline” the Historic Landmarks Preservation and Heritage Area Commissions was introduced by the City of Kingston’s executive branch to the common council with support from both the Planning and Building Departments.  Streamlining Historic Commissions, they argued, would eliminate any redundancies and create a more efficient process for project sponsors who came forward with development concepts for the city.

It’s been a rocky road since, with Kingston’s assistant Corporation Council misleading the council and the public by providing false time requirements and pending litigation that was never understood as reasons to get the streamlining legislation as a local law passed by September.

To help to better understand the process, we jumped in to provide an important educational forum so that we had good information for debate. With more questions than answers, the majority of the council (7-2) with the public’s support, brought the proposed ‘streamlining’ legislation back to committee from the floor for further review.

How did the City of Kingston’s Planning and Building Department come to the conclusion that streamlining commissions was the best way forward?  Was there a flowchart of all development processes? Had all parties involved been gathered to discuss the process to collectively agree that streamlining was the solution?

We got our answer during July’s Common Council Laws and Rules Committee meeting.  Led by Ward 9 Alderwoman Andrea Shaut, who serves as the liaison to the Laws and Rules Committee on the streamlining matter, a roundtable discussion was called that included invitations to all decision makers – whether regulatory or advisory.  Turns out that this was the first time that everyone had been brought together to discuss. The planning department didn’t have flowcharts and Kingston’s Planning Director Suzanne Cahill insisted that the development process was not ‘one size fits all’ so it wasn’t possible to create them.

Really? Even SEQR has a flowchart. When you are talking about processes that if not available, up-to-date or followed correctly will impact the public in profound ways, you better get that information out of your head and onto the page.

Read more…

UCRRA Board Unanimously Pass Resolution to Triple Kingston’s Single-Stream Recycling Costs through December.

Click on image to view video.

By Rebecca Martin

On Wednesday, the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) unanimously passed through Resolution No. 2445 that will end single-stream recycling for the agency on December 31st, 2018 and resolution No. 2446 to increase tipping fees for the remainder of the year beginning July 1, 2018.

What does that mean for Kingston?

Single stream recycling is Kingston’s current system, and we made a large investment in order to do so between 2011 and 2013 with UCRRA’s blessing.  Although Kingston is the only municipality who does so through UCRRA, other communities in Ulster County engage in single stream recycling through private haulers without any trouble.

The City of Kingston, that serves approximately 24,000 people, must now scramble to figure out how to manage its single-stream recycling  before the end of the year and in the meantime, the costs to use UCRRA as we have will TRIPLE from $20 per ton to $76 per ton in July ($61 + $15 user fee). The price may fluctuate from month to month, and be even higher until single-stream is discontinued at UCRRA and we go off on our own.

The bitter pill in all of this for the public is that during the UCRRA Board’s informational meeting earlier in the spring, the agency was aware of the potential changes in the market last October. Prior to the City of Kingston adopting its municipal budget and with more time to engage in discussions with the public and private enterprises.

VIEW  Video
Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to the Kingston News

KingstonCitizens.org will host a public educational forum on the UCRRA board in September of 2018.

 

 

VIDEO: City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble UCRRA Public Hearing on Single Stream Recycling

Photo Credit: Phyllis McCabe for Hudson Valley One.  Click on image to view Mayor Steve Noble’s Testimony at the UCRRA Public Hearing on Single Stream Recycling and rate increases on June 14th. 

 

Mayor Steve Noble gave excellent testimony at Thursday evening’s Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency’s (UCRRA) public hearing on Single Stream Recycling and rate increases.  You may click on the image to view his testimony, or following along here:  VIEW 

The public can submit comments for the next 10 days (through June 24th) to UCRRA@ucrra.org

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“I could come before you this evening to talk about how the city of Kingston began its single stream operation. I could talk to you about how the Research Recovery Agency blessed the city of Kingston’s transition to single stream recycling. I could talk to you this evening about how much money the city has spent with both local funds and state grant dollars purchasing recycling bins for the city of Kingston residents. 

I could also talk to you at length about the amount of money spent on mechanizing our equipment to have the single stream recycling trucks that we purchased with state dollars. I could also speak to you this evening about how our recycling rates have almost doubled in the city of Kingston since we implemented this new recycling program. But in five minutes, I can’t do that.  I also don’t believe I can do that in the month in a half that we’ve had since UCRRA announced its plans to discontinue single stream recycling. 

This is viewed as something that, as you all have indicated, has been happening because of China. But I would say that the issue of recycling has been happening around our country and around New York for decades, trying to get people to recycle. And it has not been easy. And it’s been something that we’ve all struggled with. 

Whether we’re single stream or dual stream, people still don’t know how to recycle correctly. People still put plastic bags in dual stream recycling just like they do in single stream recycling. They still don’t know where to put shredded paper. And whether it can be recycled or it can’t be recycled. And I think the same issue is here. This is an important decision. What do we charge? How do we manage it? Is it dual stream? Is it single stream? 

The agency is shifting course and deciding, again, that dual stream is the only way that Ulster County should operate. Then that should be a public discussion, and it should involve the county legislature. It should involve the recycling oversight committee. It should involve a whole lot more meetings like this, and it should involve the stake holders that will be directly implemented and impacted by these decisions. That should include the large haulers like Waste Management and County Waste. And it should involve the residents of the city of Kingston that don’t speak English. 

It should involve all of our residents. And the agency needs to step up and engage with our communities and really decide how can we build a better, more sustainable and also more resilient recycling industry here in Ulster County. And there is no way that that can happen before December 31st of 2018 before the proposed switch that you’re asking us to do. 

We need to be able to spend that time working together to decide once and for all how we do this. As many of you know, it’s taken the city of Kingston four years to completely implement single stream recycling in just the residential neighborhoods. On Tuesdays, we still have dual stream recycling, for the most part, on our business commercial districts in the city. And so we still haven’t gone fully single stream. 

I do think that it’s important that this decision not being made in haste. I think that the board has created a crisis, and made this seem like a crisis, making it seem that our agency is stockpiling single stream recycling. Making it seem that we have no place to put it. Making it seem that there is an emergency happening here in Ulster County, and it’s just not true. 

And yes, we all recognize that the market is changing, and that we have a huge issue that we all have to tackle together. But again, I don’t believe it needs to be done in six months. I don’t believe it needs to be done like this.  I encourage all of you to consider that when you’re deciding on how the board is voting on these next two resolutions. And so with that said, I just want to say thank you again for letting me speak this evening.”

PUBLIC HEARING ON THURSDAY 6/14. Request Agency Postpone Vote on Increase in Single-Stream Tipping Fees.

CITIZEN REQUEST.  Please request that the UCRRA board postpone its vote on Resolution No. 2446 that proposes a single-stream recycling fee increase (intended to begin on July 1st) to allow time for discussion, to budget appropriately and consider alternative options.

You can also call your City of Kingston Ulster County Legislator representatives to request that the county reinstate the Recycling Oversight Committee:

City of Kingston District 5, Lynn Eckert 
845/392-3205
lynn.Eckert@co.ulster.ny.us

City of Kingston District 6,  David Donaldson
845/399-8709
dbdonaldso@yahoo.com

City of Kingston District 7, Brian Woltman
845/331-2202
brian.woltman@co.ulster.ny.us

On Thursday, June 14th at 5:00 pm,  the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) will host a public hearing at the Ulster County Legislative Chambers located at 244 Fair Street, 6th floor (VIEW our Facebook Event) on the following resolutions:

Resolution No. 2445 states that UCRRA will no longer accept single-stream recyclables effective at the close of business December 31, 2018.

Resolution No. 2446 authorizes and approves the modification of the 2018 Tipping Fees and other Charges, to take effect July 1, 2018.

The event will be followed by UCRRA’s regular board meeting to vote on the proposed changes less than two weeks from their public hearing on Wednesday, June 27th at 12:00 pm at their offices located at 999 Flatbush Road in Kingston (VIEW our Facebook Event).

According to Resolution No. 2446, “…the Agency hereby approves the modification of the 2018 schedule of the tipping fee and other charges as it relates to single stream recyclables raising the tipping fee for single stream recyclables from $20.00 per ton to an amount set each month by the Executive Director, by calculating the average rate the Agency was charged to remove single stream recyclables in the previous month, plus a $15.00 per ton fee reflecting the Agency’s cost of storing and handling such material….for single stream recyclables will be adjusted the first day of each month commencing July 1, 2018 based on the rate calculated by the Executive Director.

A fluctuating increase in single-stream recycling tipping fees from month to month would make it a real challenge for our community to know what to anticipate. Given Kingston is in the midst of its already adopted 2017/2018 working budget with recycling tipping costs accounted for, how is this change mid-year in the best interest of 24,000 Ulster County residents who will bear the brunt?

“What is the financial impact on the taxpayers of Ulster county?”
– City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble

“We can’t pass laws, there’s no flow control on recycling.  The vast majority doesn’t come to us. The impact on taxpayers, hardly any difference at all.” 
– Timothy Rose,  Executive Director, UCRRA

“Just us.”  
– City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble

From UCRRA’s Informational Meeting, May 2018 VIEW
Mayor Steve Noble’s Quote begins at 34:23

How did we get here?  There is still much that is not understood, such as:

1. During UCRRA’s Informational Meeting last month, board members stated that a change in the Single-Stream market was known in or around October of 2017.  In April, an article in the local paper announced UCRRA’s plans to discontinue single stream by 12/31/18 and to also raise rates to take effect on 7/1 until single-stream would conclude at the end of the year. If the Ulster County Legislature has oversight of UCRRA, at what point were they notified of this change?

2. The Ulster County Legislature has a “Recycling Oversight Committee” that is charged to look at the changes in recycling trends and materials for the county has been inactive having  “…only met a few times over the past decade.” according to Manna Jo Greene .  Without it, how has the legislature used its oversight responsibilities to make any recommendations to UCRRA or impacted communities prior to proposed legislation being drafted?

3. Were there any communication made by UCCRA and the UC Legislature to the City of Kingston regarding these proposed changes prior to April, 2018?

There will be many questions posed during the public hearing on Thursday afternoon. The public deserves time for all parties to respond, discuss and deliberate before changes are made to UCRRA’s single-stream system or rate changes are made.  A postponement of Resolution No. 2446 is a reasonable request.