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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.