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.)

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…

Lincoln Park Grid Support Center (a Gas-Fired Power Plant proposed in the Town of Ulster) and SEQR.

 

Citizen Call To Action 

Please attend the upcoming Town of Ulster (ToU) Regular Town Board Meeting on Thursday, December 21st at 7:00pm and request the following during public comment (*)

  1. Support the Town of Ulster Town Board to declare a positive declaration for the proposed Lincoln Park Grid Support Center project.  VIEW our Facebook Event
  2. Suggest that the proposal that seeks to reconnect natural gas infrastructure consider creating a 100% renewable project with battery storage.

(*) Citizens are invited to give public testimony at the beginning of the regular ToU Town Board meeting on any items that are listed on the agenda (at this time, the agenda is not yet posted. We will update the public on our Facebook event page when it is available.  Please ‘like’ our event for updates VIEW). Citizens will have another opportunity to speak that evening on items not on the agenda at the end of the Town Board meeting.  We ask that citizens be respectful when addressing the Town Board, and particularly those who do not live in the municipality.  Keep your testimony to 3 minutes or less. 

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On Thanksgiving day while making a holiday meal for friends and family, I received news from a guest that a gas-fired power plant had recently been proposed in the Town of Ulster.

“Fracked gas” they said.

In addition, the Town of Ulster had its regular Town Board meeting a few days prior to the Thanksgiving holiday where the applicant and consultant gave a short presentation followed by the Town of Ulster making a request to be Lead Agency in SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review). That gave Involved Agencies only a 30 day window starting before one holiday to another (figures) to dispute their request, if applicable.

After eleven years, I had planned to step away from my volunteer work at KingstonCitizens.org to focus my efforts solely on my part time position in Water Quality at Riverkeeper (which I love, by the way) and my music career, come 2018. The news certainly dashed my plans.  The balancing act continues!

A peaker project in the Town of Ulster.  It wasn’t unfamiliar to me. In February of 2015, when Niagara Bottling pulled their proposal from a Tech City location in the Town of Ulster,  I remembered hearing rumors of such a project and thinking to myself that after coordinating an intense five month citizen campaign and now having to find a way to move a timely charter change to address water powers with a referendum in the fall of that year, I’d have to come back to it if or when it appeared.

In November of 2017, here it was.

Didn’t Ulster County just recently install a large solar array near this location (and that feeds into the Lincoln Park substation, the same substation that would be used by this proposed project)?  Furthermore, in December of 2016, Ulster County was prominently featured by National Geographic  to highlight some of the County’s environmental achievements.  That’s international coverage. So how would a natural gas power plant fit into our progress? Who attracted a midwestern company to come to the Town of Ulster with such confidence to propose such a thing?  At the December 7th Town or Ulster Town Board Workshop meeting during public testimony, a citizen called it a ‘tale of two cities’. “How do you have a solar array project on one end of a property and a natural gas power plant on the other?”

READ the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF)

I’m about to get into a whole bunch of technical stuff to the best of my ability, only because I want readers to understand how the coalition letter came to pass as well as our call to action.  SEQR is nothing new. I’m hoping that you will recall some of this language from the Niagara Bottling and/or the Pilgrim Pipeline proposals.  If you need a refresher, you can go here  VIEW

In the project’s environmental assessment form (link above), the “Lincoln Park Grid Support Center” is described, in part, in this way:

“The Applicant, Lincoln Park DG, LLC, is under contract to acquire three tax parcels between NYS Route 32 and US Route 9W in the Town of Ulster which total 120.92 acres, and proposes to construct the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center on a 4± acre portion of the property, with access from Frank Sottile Boulevard. The proposed facility is a natural gas-fired power plant that will supply power to the electric grid in the region….The facility will include a system of containerized batteries and a reciprocating engine generator system that is fueled by natural gas, with the capability to use on-site diesel when the gas supply is disrupted. The generator system will be housed within a steel Butler building and will require two exhaust stacks for combustion emissions which will be a maximum of 100 feet in height. The system will be available to the grid 24 hours a day and will operate based on the needs of the grid, with very little operation on some days and continuous operations on other days. The facility is expected to operate an average of 6 to 14 hours per day. Fuel combustion will result in primary emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), and carbon monoxide (CO), and will require an air permit from the NYSDEC. Some ancillary waste will also be produced including used lubricating oil and reagent as part of equipment maintenance.”

On first glance looking at the list of Involved Agencies, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) seemed the best choice for a project that could be seen as a regional one, with potential environmental impacts that include air emissions, visual impacts, wetlands, the project footprint being within close proximity of a principal aquifer, cultural resources and threatened/endangered species  There might be others. As a local matter, there were potential inconsistencies in the Town’s comprehensive plan and zoning code and concerns of something like this being built only approx. 600 feet away from a residential area.

Once a Lead Agency is designated, they may make a determination of significance for the proposed action (project) as being a positive declaration (pos dec) or negative declaration (neg dec) in SEQR.  A pos dec in simple terms means that the project may result in having one or more significant adverse environmental impacts, triggering a full scoping process (to identify all of the potential impacts) with opportunities for public comment and then for appropriate studies to be identified and paid for by the applicant.   A neg dec, means that the proposed action benefits “outweigh its adverse impacts” and would move the project to its site plan without any public comment. As a side note, a neg dec allows the applicant to apply/secure any public funding that might be available to its project.

Read more…

Understanding the Latest Changes to the Irish Cultural Center

WHAT
Come to the public hearing at City Hall, Council Chambers, on Monday, July 10th at 6:00 pm, and weigh in on the latest changes to the proposed  Irish Cultural Center (ICC) project.

WHERE
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway
Kingston, NY
Council Chambers (top floor)

WHEN
Monday, July 10th
6:00 pm
Sign-up to speak at 5:45pm

If you can’t attend the meeting, you can submit the comments in the body of this EMAIL and any other additional concerns you might have. The email will go directly to the Kingston Planning Board and City of Kingston.  We will receive a copy, too, and will compile a packet to submit to the Board at the public hearing on July 10th.

Deadline for email submissions is July 7th.

WHY
Public input on this project proposal so far has helped to make for a stronger Irish Cultural Center proposal. The public needs to keep weighing in until the project fully fits the Kingston waterfront community, or the ICC determines another location that is suited to their goals.

 

 

By Hillary Harvey 

The Irish Cultural Center proposed for Abeel Street on the Rondout in Kingston has just come back to the Planning Board with the latest in a series of updates to their project site plan.

ICC Site Plans, March 8, 2017     VIEW
Floor Plans, March 2, 2017      VIEW

Included are responses to the State Historic Preservation Office, the City of Kingston’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the Ulster County Planning Board, all of which were presented at the June 12th City of Kingston Planning Board meeting.

VIDEO: Planning Board Meeting 6/12/2017   VIEW

 

What the ICC Looks Like Now.

The Irish Cultural Center of the Hudson Valley is proposed to be a 16,213 square foot newly constructed building on a 0.43-acre parcel at 32 Abeel Street with rights, granted by the City of Kingston’s Zoning Board of Appeals, to follow the zoning for West Strand Street.  New designs indicate a red, brick building of three stories measuring 49.5′ from the Company Hill Path side (South Elevation), with one story underground on the Abeel Street side (North Elevation).  There would also be an elevator accessible roof garden, with outdoor seating and a 12’ tall room that rises above the height of the building.  On the Company Hill Path side, there would be three full balconies with exterior gathering space that each run the width of the building.  The building would be a “community center” with a 171-seat theater, exhibition space, commercial kitchen, 70-seat pub/restaurant, flex space, offices for the ICC and the Ancient Order of Hibernians (the ICC’s parent organization), radio station, map room, etc.  The project would have 8 on-site parking spots and seek a parking waiver from the Planning Board for 47 parking spaces.

There will be a public hearing on these changes at the City of Kingston’s Planning Board meeting on July 10th, during their regular meeting, and comments can be made via email to the Planning Board before July 7th.  We encourage everyone to weigh in.

Read more…

Public Educational Forum “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know” on January 28, 2017

Jon Bowermaster will be in attendance to speak and to show his film “A Pipeline Runs Through It’ to be presented at the beginning of the event.

By Rebecca Martin

KingstonCitizens.org to host a public educational forum and discussion called “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know and How Local Action Makes Global Impacts” on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at Kingston City Hall Council Chambers located at 420 Broadway, in Kingston NY from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.  Guest panelists include Jeremy Cherson of Riverkeeper, Sue Rosenberg of Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline/CAPP-NY, Jen Metzger of Citizens For Local Power and a Rosendale Town Councilwoman and Andy Bicking of Scenic Hudson. The short film “Hudson River at Risk 6: A Pipeline Runs Through It” will be presented by Writer, filmmaker and adventurer and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council Jon Bowermaster.

The event is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Co-sponsored by Riverkeeper, Citizens for Local Power, Scenic Hudson, CAPP-NY, the Local Economies Project and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Kingston Land Trust, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Woodstock Land Conservancy, Earth Guardians NY, Citizen Action NY and Sustainable Hudson Valley. With support from the City of Kingston, the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council, Town of Rosendale, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Ulster County Legislature and 103rd District Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.

 

VIEW Event on Facebook for up-to-date information on this important local event.

 

Kingston, NY – Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC has proposed to construct two parallel pipelines that would run along the NYS Thruway and through private property—one pipeline carrying Bakken crude oil south from Albany, NY, to a refinery in Linden, NJ, and the other carrying refined products north. The 170+ miles of pipelines, together with nearly 13 miles of lateral pipelines, would impact 31 communities in Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland counties, as well as 30+ communities in New Jersey. The carrying capacity of each pipeline would be 200,000 barrels (or 8.4 million gallons) per day, which would more than double the number of trains carrying volatile Bakken crude to the Port of Albany at the peak of Bakken crude production in 2014.  The increase in crude-by-rail volume means that the project will also impact many communities north and west of Albany through which the CSX and Canadian Pacific rail lines run.

Read more…

What’s the Process? New Public Hearing Scheduled for the ICC (Irish Cultural Center)

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Last night, the Kingston Planning Board held its regular meeting with many items to discuss, one of which was the ongoing Irish Cultural Center (ICC) being planned in downtown Kingston. In September, citizens anticipated the planning board to make its determination in October for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA),  but it was postponed because the ICC’s proposal scaled down its size (by 4.5%) after what appeared to be the public’s insistence for a project smaller in size and scale, and in pressing for a positive declaration in SEQR.  Later we also learned that it might have been influenced by a recent communication from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in late September.

When speaking to scale, they reported that, “The scale is very large in comparison to surrounding commercial and residential buildings.”  In regard to ‘Massing and Design Features’:  “The rectangular flat roofed façade with full width double height porches, does relate to the historic façade of the D+H Paymaster Building that was located adjacent to this site. Though the scale of the proposed building is much larger.

READ   SHPO’s letter to the Kingston Planning Board dated 9/30/16

No matter. A new draft of plans were presented last evening. The good news is that the ICC is listening. They have removed a proposed banquet facility and commercial kitchen that would eliminate parking by 2 parking spots (from 39 to 37). The proposed theater also decreased in size to 171 seats in total. There is a good description of all of these things in the attached video.

VIEW video from last evening’s meeting.

So what are the next steps in the process for the public? 

A public hearing is imminent, where the public will have the opportunity to view the new draft plan (available in the planning office, and not online) and then provide comments to the planning board for their consideration.  Last night, the client presented its new draft and the planning board announced what appeared to be a decided upon date for a public hearing of November 2nd.

According to the City of Kingston Zoning Code Section 405-30 , it states that #6 “ The Planning Board may hold a public hearing on the site plan if it determines that the matter is of wide public interest. If such a hearing is held, it shall be held within 62 days of the official submission date of the application, and notice shall be given at least five days prior to the date of such hearing by publication in the official City newspaper.”

If we are correct, that means that the planning board has 62 days to orchestrate a public hearing.  In this case based on a November 2nd public hearing, there are only 12 business days to respond and, according to comments made in the video, a final draft plan isn’t yet complete for your review even though the clock is already ticking.

So how does the planning board conclude review time before public comment? What’s their process and in this case, does it provide ample time for all parties involved?  It all seems so arbitrary even if it isn’t.

Finally, in an article released by the Daily Freeman today about the meeting last night, we were disheartened by the headline,  “Irish Cultural Center attorney says opponents of Kingston project are ‘dishonest’“.   After reviewing video from last night, we realized that Mr. Pordy’s comments were not taken out of context. In our 10 years of doing this work,  we can tell you that citizens truly advocating for their community are not dishonest. They deserve respect, and are wading through a maze of new information while trying to understand how city government works. It’s a very steep learning curve, and the majority of citizens that we have had the privilege in getting to know all want nothing more than to support their city’s best interests where they live and do business.   –  RM