PETITION: Kingstonian Project and SEQR – Positive Declaration and Scoping

 

 

SIGN the Petition
“We Support a Pos DEC in SEQR for the Kingstonian Project”

Kingston Residents can request a Positive Declaration in SEQR that would allow more input and studies on the proposed Kingstonian Project.

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With the Lead Agency for the Kingstonian Project underway (READ: Kingstonian Project and SEQR: Lead Agency), we anticipate the Kingston Planning Board will secure that role for the Kingstonian Project SEQR process.  With a 30-day window for confirmation that began on January 24th, we expect confirmation by around February 22nd.

Once Lead Agency is determined, the next significant milestone in SEQR will be a 20-day window for Lead Agency to make a “Positive” or “Negative” declaration for the Kingstonian Project. 

With a project this large and significant, we are advocating for a “Positive Declaration” (Pos Dec) in SEQR and are currently putting together a coalition of partners to make that same request.  To assure that the public is involved in this request, we have also created a petition that we will submit with our coalition letter in a couple of weeks.

Please join us by signing our PETITION by Sunday, February 24th.

 

Why is this significant? 

A Positive Declaration is “a determination by the lead agency that an action may result in at least one potential significant environmental impact and so will require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before the Lead Agency decisions may be made regarding the action. The positive declaration starts the EIS process.”  

With the recent changes in SEQR Regulations, a “pos dec” immediately triggers a public scoping process which would be a great opportunity for our community to work on this together.

 

The Scoping Process in SEQR.

As of January 1, 2019, when there is a “Pos Dec” determination, scoping is automatically triggered. This is in the public’s best interest, as prior Jan 1 this year, an additional request  would have had to have been made.

A “draft scope” would be created and submitted to the Lead Agency by the applicant at some point in time that would then be released to the public (as my mentor, Kate Hudson, used to say, “Think of a draft scope document as a ‘table of contents’ for the project”).

Once it is received by the Lead Agency, approved and released – there is a 30-day window that occurs for the public to review the document and to make additional comments for study.  In our petition and coalition letter, we are requesting 90-days as well as a public meeting.  

The comments/questions of concern are ultimately sent to the Lead Agency to vet – and once approved,  a ‘final scoping’ document is created and sent to the applicant who is then required to answer each questions in what will become a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).  More on that later on. We need to achieve a pos dec first.

 

The Input of Citizens and Advocates is Critical for a Good SEQR Process and Outcome. 

There is no one better to do this work than the citizens who will be directly impacted (both negatively and/or positively) to a project like this with the support of advocates who have dedicated their life’s work on the range of issues that may arise.   We hope you’ll join us as we take our first step in preparing to ask the Lead Agency to issue a “Pos Dec” on the proposed Kingstonian Project.  If you live in the City of Kingston, please sign our petition to be delivered by or about 2/25/19.

 

REVIEW: The SEQR Cookbook

Kingstonian Project and SEQR: Determining Lead Agency

By Rebecca Martin

With the recent positive changes to the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center project, we can turn our attention to the Kingstonian Project and its SEQR process (State Environmental Quality Review) which is just getting underway.    KingstonCitizens.org is in the midst of organizing a new coalition of partners for this effort.  Our goal is to follow SEQR step by step and support the public and our elected and appointed officials to assure a clear, efficient and transparent process.

A Brief Description of the Kingstonian Project.

In the applicant’s (Kingstonian Development LLC and JM Development Group LLC) Environmental Assessment Form (EAF), it states that the Kingstonian Project “involves the redevelopment of the City of Kingston parking garages property, the Herzog’s Supply Co. Inc. warehouse property and the Uptown Grill property (also owned by Herzog’s Supply Co., Inc). The proposed project includes the following elements:  420 car parking garage, 120 apartment units, 32 room hotel, 8950 square feet of retail space, a pedestrian plaza area, and an elevated pedestrian link to connect to Kingston Plaza.”

The parcels of land include “City Parking Garage (1.43 acres), Herzog’s Warehouse (0.49 acres), and Uptown Grill (0.49 acres) along with portions of Fair Street Extension and a small pocket park owned by the City of Kingston.  The project further includes consolidation of several tax parcels (subdivision-lot line deletions)”

The City of Kingston Planning Board as Lead Agency.

On January 22nd, the City of Kingston’s Planning Board passed a resolution confirming the Kingstonian Project being a Type 1 Action in SEQR with a Coordinated Review and asking to be Lead Agency for the project.  The resolution was acknowledged by the Clerk’s office on 1/24 that starts the 30-day clock for all Involved Agencies to approve the request (more on that below).

What is a Type 1 Action and Coordinated Review?

A Type 1 action means “an action or class of actions that is more likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment than other actions or classes of actions.” Because of which, a full Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) must be submitted to the Lead Agency once determined, and the Lead Agency must always coordinate the SEQR review process with other involved agencies.

The applicant has submitted Part 1 of its full EAF where it was declared up front that the project would be a Type 1 Action in SEQR.  A coordinated review is required for all Type 1 Actions. The involved agency “initially receiving an application for approval” (the Kingston Planning Board) “circulates the completed Part 1 of the full EAF and any other information supplied by the applicant to the other involved agencies.”

There’s more to this that we can get into later on and as we move along, though it’s worth noting in this case that the Lead Agency, after reviewing the EAF,  may request an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) “after review of application documentation related to the proposed action (in the EAF) and decides that the action as proposed is likely to cause at least one significant adverse impact to the environment.”

What is Lead Agency in SEQR?

The purpose of having a Lead Agency is to “coordinate the SEQR process from start to finish so that when an action is to be carried out, funded or approved by two or more agencies, a single integrated environmental review is conducted.”  Also important is that the Lead Agency “is responsible for making key SEQR determinations during the review process.”  In other words, they control the process.

Being an Involved Agency.
(AMENDED: In the original post, there were seven Involved Agencies listed when there are ten.)

In SEQR, an agency is Involved when the determination is made that “the agency has or will have a discretionary decision to make regarding some aspect of the action” involving the project.   In the case of the Kingstonian Project, there are ten identified Involved Agencies and they are:

  1. Kingston Planning Board (for Site Plan Approval, Special Use Permit approval, SEQRA approval and Lot Line Revisions).
  2. City of Kingston Common Council (for closing of a City Street, Sale of Land or Easement Conveyance and Deviated PILOT Review).
  3. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) (SPDES Permit for Stormwater Discharges)
  4. City of Kingston Dept. of Public Works (Curb Cut Permit and Sewer Tap)
  5. City of Kingston Zoning Board of Appeals (for Area Variances for Floor Area Ratio and Height).
  6. City of Kingston Historic Landmarks Commission (Notice of Preservation of Action).
  7. Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (Deviated PILOT Agreement).
  8. City of Kingston Water Department (Water tap).
  9. City of Kingston Consolidated School District (Deviated PILOT Review)
  10. Empire State Development Corporation (Approval of Grants “Restore New York, Consolidated Funding Application and Downtown Revitalization Initiative).

Involved Agencies play a critical role at the very beginning of SEQR, as they choose the Lead Agency for the project.  Any one of the Involved Agencies can request to be Lead Agency and any one can reject those requests (just as long as they are willing to take on the role themselves. That is required along with any Involved Agencies ‘no’ vote).

It’s appropriate that the Kingston Planning Board be the Lead Agency of SEQR for the Kingstonian Project.   Although the Kingston Common Council as an Involved Agency could also request the role,  it’s in the public’s best interest that they remain free to advocate for their constituents, as the Lead Agency must remain impartial.

The Kingston Planning Board’s request went out to all ten Involved Agencies on January 24th where there is a 30 day window to approve or disapprove the Planning Board’s request. We expect the window to close in or around February 24th.

Next up:   Lead Agency to Determine a Positive or Negative Declaration in SEQR for the Kingstonian Project, where the public will have a chance to request a Pos Dec within a 20 day window.  More shortly.

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WATCH:  At last week’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission as an Involved Agency in the Kingstonian Project, the commission discussed the Kingston Planning Board’s Lead Agency request.  Starts at: 19:47

Filmed by The Kingston News and brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.

Coalition Partners Respond to Change in GlidePath Proposal from Fossil to Renewable.

READ: Town of Ulster’s Press Release “GlidePath to Submit Battery-Only Proposal for Lincoln Park Grid Support Storage Center in Ulster.”

READ: GlidePath’s Letter to the Town of Ulster with their new plans.

A controversial proposed power plant in the Town of Ulster will be re-sited and re-born as a renewable energy project, thanks to a partnership among many community groups and local governments.  Led by KingstonCitizens.org they include TownOfUlsterCitizens.org, Scenic Hudson, Citizens For Local Power, CAPP-NY, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Food and Water Watch, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Kingston Land Trust, Riverkeeper, Sierra Club of the Mid-Hudson Valley, Sustainable Hudson Valley and the Woodstock Land Conservancy.  The coalition helped to guide the public through each step of the State Environmental Review Process (SEQR) throughout Glidepath’s Lincoln Park gas-fired power plant proposed in the Town of Ulster. Today, the partners respond to and celebrate the good news announced by the Town of Ulster: 

 

“I couldn’t be more grateful to our group of dedicated coalition partners for their collaborative efforts to transform a fossil fuel project into a renewable one. They worked tirelessly to provide support to not only the public but also our elected and appointed officials for the past 16 months. The innovative and forward thinking approach advocated by our elected officials – and especially our County Executive Mike Hein – will benefit the Town of Ulster and County for years to come and, more broadly, communities across New York State who can implement similar localized collaborative efforts.”

Rebecca Martin
Director and Lead Organizer
KingstonCitizens.org

 

“The announcement by GlidePath to withdraw its original plan and replace it with a battery storage facility is welcome news to our town’s citizens, this fracked-gas and diesel power plant would have doubled the Town of Ulster’s carbon footprint if the plant became operational, but their new proposal for a storage-only facility is a way to keep our local environment clean and preserve generated power which would otherwise be lost to the grid. GlidePath has considerable experience with battery-storage plants, but they had no experience with burning gas and diesel for electricity.  This project is more in line with the values of Ulster County’s commitment to renewable initiatives. TownOfUlsterCitizens.org participated in the SEQR process for over a year and suggested a battery-storage facility in another part of town as a viable alternative to the fossil-fuel plant. Understanding all the details of this battery storage facility, we fully support GlidePath’s revised project proposal.”

Laura Hartmann and Regis Obijiski
Co-Founders
TownOfUlsterCitizens.org

 

“Today’s announcement that Glidepath will be withdrawing its plans for a gas-fired power plant and instead focusing on clean, renewable power generation is great news for Ulster and the entire Hudson Valley. Moving away from polluting fossil fuel plants that contribute to climate change and investing in renewable energy is a win-win proposition. This victory is a testament to the power of citizen engagement–informed and determined community members led the charge in fighting this project, and won. We look forward to reviewing the details of GlidePath’s new proposal.”

Hayley Carlock
Director of Environmental Advocacy
Scenic Hudson

 

“We welcome GlidePath’s decision to withdraw its proposal for a gas-and diesel-fired ‘grid support system’ in the town of Ulster and to propose, in its place, an all-renewables project. The move is in keeping with GlidePath’s history, since in the past the company has built only projects that combine battery storage with renewables – a potentially game-changing development that makes it possible to use the stored electricity to even out the variation in renewable electricity generation and to decrease the need for expensive build-outs of the electrical grid. The decision is a good one for the Mid-Hudson Valley, thanks to the vigilance and vision of local citizen groups, environmentalists, and elected officials, and to the wisdom of the company in withdrawing a bad proposal and returning to its roots.”

Susan H. Gillespie
President of the Board
Citizens for Local Power

 

“This new proposal shows the power of engaged citizens to change the shape of a conversation, an environmental review, a proposed project, and indeed, our future. Every community should be seeking desirable projects from companies capable of providing renewable energy generation and storage, and every community should mount opposition to fossil fuel projects that pose unacceptable risks to our air and water. We look forward to reviewing this new proposal from GlidePath, which starts out on a much better foot and offers potential benefits to our local towns and region, while potentially strengthening our entire energy system.”

Dr. Kathleen Nolan
Senior Research Director
Catskill Mountainkeeper

 

“CAPPNY sees this as a great day for people who are committed to moving away from dependence on fossil fuel.  The change in GlidePath’s plans shows the power of ordinary people and what can be accomplished by the determination and collective action of  people standing up and working for a safe and just community. This is an important step toward complete reliance on renewable energy.”

Sue Rosenberg and William Barr
Organizers
CAPPNY

 

“This is a critical victory not just for the guardians of air and water, health and safety in the Town of Ulster and Hudson Valley, but for climate defenders and water protectors across our state and region. This exercise of people power is a signal pointing to the Green New Deal to come. No new fossil fuel infrastructure, period!”

Iris Marie Bloom
Executive Director
Protecting Our Waters

 

“Thanks to the work of dedicated community members, community groups, and environmental organizations GlidePath understands that Ulster County, and New York State need a renewable energy future now. Riverkeeper is encouraged that Glide Path is withdrawing its fossil fuel project, in favor of a renewable energy and battery storage proposal. We look forward to seeing the details and ensuring that any new project does not exacerbate climate change, or threaten public health or the Hudson River.”

Jessica Roff
Director, Advocacy and Engagement
Riverkeeper

 

“Democracy works, and technology is changing so fast that it makes sense for all parties to be taking a fresh look at the kind of project that is cost-effective today.  We applaud the progress, and the validation that renewable power is a cost-effective investment today.”

Melissa Everett, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Sustainable Hudson Valley

 

“Members of impacted communities came out to participate in deciding the future of our energy infrastructure, and GlidePath listened. Clearwater is grateful to GlidePath for rethinking their project and shifting away from our long-standing dependence on fossil fuel to using renewable energy with storage and efficiency.  Given the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report calling for ‘rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society’ to avoid disastrous levels of global warming — we must achieve 100% renewable energy generation by 2030.’ This is a huge step in the right direction.”

Greg Williams
Executive Director
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc.

 

“The Kingston Land Trust, as one of the coalition partners, has been a proponent of a more environmentally responsible operation as well as more conscientious sitting. We are so pleased to see this project moving in that direction, thanks to the work of dedicated citizens as well as a responsive company. We believe in the power of civic engagement to protect land and communities and we will continue to be active in this process as long as there is a need.”

Julia Farr
Executive Director
The Kingston Land Trust

 

“The Woodstock Land Conservancy commends GlidePath for listening to community concerns and stating their intention to withdraw their “Lincoln Park Grid Support Facility” application, in favor of a first in NYS-facility providing direct battery back-up, storage and grid support. We hope that the new proposal is a demonstration of Ulster County and New York State’s environmental and renewable energy and climate change leadership.  We owe great thanks to our coalition partners for their committed advocacy, and to County Executive Mike Hein for pursuing a thorough examination of the impacts of GlidePath’s initial proposal and pushing for a non-fossil fuel based alternative that does not contribute more greenhouse gas emissions, nor negatively impact the neighborhoods which surround it. And we additionally express our gratitude for the responsiveness of Supervisor Quigley and the Town of Ulster, for their work in facilitating this.”

Maxanne Resnick
Executive Director
Woodstock Land Conservancy

 

“The community has struck a blow against climate change by blocking GlidePath’s proposed fracked gas power plant.  New York needs to move off fossil fuels and rapidly shift to 100 percent renewable energy, and the company’s decision points us in the right direction. Governor Cuomo should take heed of this smart move and use his own authority to stop all new fossil fuel projects.”

Eric Weltman
Senior Organizer
Food & Water Watch