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