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.
This year, we have witnessed many unprecedented, positive changes in the city of Kingston. One of which was a whole new way of engaging the community with a budget forum held at Kingston City Hall in August as well as an online survey where citizens had the opportunity to voice in on the Mayor’s 2017 municipal budget.
Soon after, the finance committee met on a weekly basis for about six weeks to interview department heads who unveiled their department’s needs. To be thorough, Kingston Mayor Noble also requested a special committee meeting to discuss special events, fees and to respond to any other concerns raised about the budget. I can’t recall a time when I have seen such transparent and collaborative efforts made between all elected and appointed officials in the City of Kingston.
After hours upon hours of research and discussion, the finance passed the city’s 2017 budget out of committee and on to last evening’s council caucus (12/5). Its fate is now in the hands of our entire common council who will vote to pass the budget or not this evening (12/6).
Some say that the 2017 COK budget is the first in decades where a balanced budget has been achieved that also includes a tax cut. It’s a forward thinking document; one that places the COK on solid footing for the future.
The highlights include a tax levy of $17,650,940, which is a $0 increase from 2016. What’s really exciting is that it slowly addresses the long-standing issue of the homestead / non-homestead, decreasing the homestead tax rate from $10.16 per thousand to $10.10 per thousand and the non-homestead tax rate from $18.31 per thousand to $18.13 per thousand. Items such as raises were determined through a multi-member committee. It was a long and well-vetted analysis, using comparable salaries from similar communities. The result moves toward fair pay for all (for both male and female employees alike) and gives Kingston a competitive edge when openings become available in attracting the best and the brightest.
The city will continue to provide extensive services at a cost effective rate, too. You’d be hard pressed to find a private hauler for the price that most are paying through the City of Kingston’s Department of Public Works. We know how important that is to Kingstonians.
BRINGING SOME CLARITY AND UNDERSTANDING TO POTENTIAL DEBATE THIS EVENING.
With ample time for discussion throughout the estimated three-month process, we still expect several items to come to the floor this evening for debate. Below, we’ve tried to pull together a little background to help citizens follow along.
Hiring a part-time clerk for Kingston’s Common Council.
A part time common council clerk position was implemented to assist the council in their administrative needs. This would include creating timely agendas, minutes and even audio recordings of all caucus and council meetings. It’s the sort of thing that we have been advocating for since we began this work in 2006. It’s an exciting prospect for all citizens.
1) In the City of Kingston’s charter, the city clerk (who is appointed by the mayor) manages all “records, documents and other papers for the city”. Their role also includes being the council’s clerk without any detail outside of going to monthly council meetings. In other words, a single position is to maintain the needs of both the executive and legislative branches of government, the latter to a degree.
2) Some believe that it makes sense for our common council (legislative branch) to have its own PT clerk that can work independently of our city clerk (executive branch). It may avoid any potential conflicts as to how much time is applied where given that the city clerk position is appointed by Kingston’s Mayor.
What are some of the concerns?
As we understand it, Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills wants the council to move the $16,000 allotted amount towards an asset management ‘manager’ position.
1) To date, the City of Kingston is awaiting recommendations from Barton and Loguidice, LLC, the consultant hired to provide the city with an asset management gap assessment several years ago. In 2015, recommendations in three phases were made to move Kingston toward adopting a citywide asset management software system. Long term maintenance and sustainability may be part of phase three, which could give the city a better understanding of the role an asset management ‘manager’ could play, including their qualifications and pay. Some say that without this critical information, making any determinations on what and how to fund this position is premature.
2) There are also other key variables that would come into play, such as a grant that was written to cover a fleet manager position and that would manage all vehicles in the city. Kingston should learn if they have secured this grant soon and if so, the position might reduce the responsibilities of a future asset manager.
Making Kingston’s Corporation Council a full-time position.
1) Kingston’s Corporation Council is another appointment made by the mayor, serving at his/her pleasure. In the charter, it states that: “The Corporation Counsel shall be the primary legal advisor to the Mayor, Common Council and of all commissions, departments and other offices of the city. The Corporation Counsel shall conduct, supervise or monitor, as required, the prosecution and defense of all actions or proceedings brought by or against the city or by or against any of its officers in their official capacity and appeal from all such orders, decisions and judgments as he or she deems advisable.”
That’s a pretty large list of responsibilities for part-time council. As a side note, and if their position is indeed 20 hours, what happens when/if they have not choice but to go over their allotment of time?
2) Some believe that it isn’t realistic or fair to expect corporation council’s full attention to city matters when they are also being pulled by a necessary private practice. Others suggest that in addition, maintaining both private and public work in tandem could open up the possibility of conflicts of interest (especially in a small city such as Kingston).
We support the 2017 City of Kingston Municipal Budget.
We appreciate the mayor, common council, all Kingston city departments and citizens for their hard work since the summer to craft such an exemplary budget for Kingston. Their efforts deserve our wholehearted support. We encourage citizens to sign-up to speak tonight at Kingston City Hall (420 Broadway, Council Chambers at 7:30 pm) in favor of passing the 2017 City of Kingston municipal budget through council. In doing so, we are placing our best foot forward as we go into the new year.
Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC has proposed to construct two parallel pipelines each up to 20 inches in diameter that would run from Albany, NY to Linden, NJ along the NYS Thruway and through private property. In total, the pipelines would cover some 170 miles (including five laterals totaling nearly 13 miles), impacting 31 municipalities in Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland counties. The pipelines would receive an estimated 200,000 barrels per day of Bakken crude oil by way of rail into Albany, proposing to ship the crude oil in one mainline south and bring refined products back north.
The pipelines would run through several sections of the City of Kingston with even more pipelines crossings through the Town of Ulster (TOU). It is also being proposed that one of the four pump stations (the only one that would be located near a residential area) is to be placed only 200 feet away from a trailer park on Sawkill Road in the TOU impacting the Town of Kingston, too.
Proponents have said that pipelines will reduce the need to transport crude oil using rails (bomb trains) or barges (in the case of the Anchorage project). Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper disagrees. “Having barges won’t prevent pipelines, and having pipelines won’t prevent barges, and transport by rail won’t prevent either of the others. None of these industries has made a compact with the others, saying, “If you move the oil, we’ll back out of the business.”
In other words, more opportunities to move crude oil simply means more crude oil. Not less.
The proposal has the potential for significant environmental impacts according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, stating that the Pilgrim Pipelines project “…would cross 257 streams and waterbodies (232 along mainline pipelines and 25 along laterals), including the Hudson River and multiple major and minor tributaries of the Hudson. There are also 296 (9.2 linear miles) crossings of wetlands; including 25 crossings of NYSDEC protected freshwater wetlands (approximately 19 along mainline pipelines and 6 along laterals). Additionally, there will be four pump stations and 215 permanent access roads and temporary access roads at every mile.”
Proposal #1: “In order to improve services to the children and families of Ulster County, reduce the need to raise property taxes, and satisfy state mandates, the County of Ulster proposes to relocate the current leased site of the Ulster County Family Courtn, located at 16 Lucas Avenue in the City of Kingston, County of Ulster, State of New York, to a more suitable county owned property situated less than 800 feet from the City of Kingston line, located at 1 Development Court, Ulster Avenue in the Town of Ulster, County of Ulster, State of New York. Shall this proposition be approved?”
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.
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
In 2015, the city of Kingston initiated the Hudson Riverport, a project that had “engaged the services of the firm Perkins+Will to produce an Implementation Plan, a Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FGEIS) and a Market Conditions Update for 192 acres of Kingston’s Rondout Waterfront under the Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) Program of the NYS Department of State….The Common Council determined by resolution on October 6, 2015 that the Implementation Plan/Draft GEIS was complete and ready for public review and set a public hearing date. The comment period spanned October 8th through November 23rd with a public hearing on November 12th in Kingston City Hall Common Council Chambers.”
On October 11, 2015 in the Daily Freeman, an article “Kingston Seeks Public Input on Brownfield Plan” was printed/posted announcing the city initiative as well as the City of Kingston’s Hudson Riverport Facebook page that apparently had been created in 2014.
Just about a year later on October 10, 2016, we happened to notice language in a post on the City of Kingston Hudson Riverport Facebook page that appeared odd. To a recent article in the Daily Freeman, “Kingston Council Advances Downtown Flood Control Effort” it said in part that, “…The current administration should be thankful that the proposal was already written. All they had to do was get the design work started and resubmit the request for construction funds…”
That didn’t sound to us like the current office of Economic Development speaking. It is a fact that the “Hudson Riverport at Kingston” is a Facebook page created, owned and operated by the city of Kingston. So why would it suggest that “the current administration should be thankful that the proposal was already written…” for a project that it continues to organize and maintain?
Curious, we looked at the ABOUT section of Hudson Riverport of Kingston NY page, and there wasn’t a description or any details connecting the page to the City of Kingston initiative for which the social media site was created for when it was set-up. (VIEW: Hudson Riverport ABOUT section).
Unfortunately, we have reason to believe that the page continues to be administered by a past City of Kingston employee without having permission to do so, or without any guidance from the current Economic Development or Grants Management office. After looking around a bit more, there is at least one other just like it. An inventory of these sites needs to be collected.
The good news is that the City of Kingston is currently looking into the matter and will take the necessary steps to rectify the situation. Apparently, in the past a city employee could create a Facebook page on their own, without there being a secondary employee to be included as an administrator. That has now been implemented. However, for sites created prior to 2016, if a person who worked for the city being the sole adminstrator decides to act maliciously, they might take the entire site down where information meant for the public record that was posted over the years would be lost. Lets hope that that doesn’t happen in this case.
Perhaps the good news here, in an instance like this and if it ends up being what we suspect, will expose areas from past city management that must be improved.
There is no doubt that successful projects is the work of many. It indeed takes a village (or a city in this case). But for City of Kingston property to be used without authority or direction is inappropriate and completely misleading to the public. Aren’t city of Kingston staff and our elected and appointed officials from both the past and present days to be working on behalf of the public good? City property is the public’s property. When you are no longer employed, elected or appointed, hand over important information in good working order so that the city can continue to run smoothly during each of its transitions. It is each of their duties to do so.
READ: Daily Freeman Article, requesting comments on Riverport be sent to city-owned email address.
READ: Pages 9-10 of Ec. Dev. Brochure, documenting the project.
READ: Daily Freeman article about the public hearing process for the plan.
VIEW:Kingston Common Council’s Memorizing Resolution: “Resolution 214 of 2016: Resolution of the Common Council of the City of Kingston New York, Approving a Memoralizing Resolution Opposing the Adoption of the U.S. Coast Guard Proposed Rule 2016-0132.”
Tonight, the Kingston Common Council passed a memorializing resolution “opposing the adoption of the U.S. Coast Guard Proposed Rule” for the Anchorage project with a vote of 7 – 1 (Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills being the solo ‘no’ vote, stating she had more questions. At this time, she seemed to be supportive of the Shipping Corporations request to create 43 berths in 10 locations, opening up 2400 acres to new anchorages in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas of the river. 42 of the 43 berths are proposed to be “long term” which means that barges could anchor there for days. This is not as the vessel operators like to say as being “nothing new”. This would represent a huge increase in the anchoring of commercial vessels in the Hudson between the GW Bridge and Albany, turning our river into a parking lot for large barges and vessels while they wait for dock space to open up in Albany.) Ward 4 Alderwoman Nina Dawson was absent this evening.
The U.S. Coast Guard is taking comments until Dec. 6 on its WEBSITE. With the passing of resolution 214 of 2016, the Kingston Common Council will now be in a position to submit theirs, and join Kingston Mayor Steve Noble who earlier in the year, on August 22, 2016, submitted comments ending with “The City (of Kingston) has spent decades revitalizing its waterfront. Many organizations have worked to clean up the Hudson, to protect its habitats and make it attractive to recreation and tourism. For safety sake, transient vessel berthing is acceptable. Long-term use is not.”
VIEW 26:46 – 29:00: Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills defend her position in support of the proposed Anchorage project during the Kingston Common Council Caucus on 10/3/16. It begins at 26:46 and ends at 29:00. (Video brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org by Clark Richters of the Kingston News.)
VIEW 40:46 – 44:09: The passing of the memorializing resolution video is below. It begins at 40:46 and ends at 44:09. (Video brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org by Clark Richters of the Kingston News.)
Ward 1 Alderwoman Lynn Eckert prior to the vote states that, “We are obligated to protect the public good. There are too many people who rely on a healthy, ecologically sound Hudson River.”
Here is video from the Kingston Common Council meeting from 9/13/16 that includes a discussion on the ethics law, and the midtown Spiegeltent proposal brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to Clark Richters of The Kingston News.
Thanks to Kris Seiz of Storm King Adventure Tours who has drafted a sign-on letter regarding anchorages specifically for local businesses. We invite the Kingston business community, as well as possibly the larger Ulster County business community, to participate.
To read the entire letter, place your mouse pointer on the document to scroll and to sign.
It is always great when we have the opportunity to sit down with Riverkeeper’s Kate Hudson who is the Director of Cross Watershed Initiatives there. Her clarity on all of the issues she is charged with, and in this case the proposed anchorage project on the Hudson River, is a big help to citizens all throughout the Hudson Valley Region.
One of our big take-aways was to come to understand where we are today on the crude oil transport front. Having more anchorages means that empty barges traveling up from NYC can cut their travel time in half to park until a berth opens up in the port of Albany where shipments of crude oil arrive. There is much activity in North Dakota, and crude oil is transported on ‘bomb trains’ to Albany. Shipping companies are waiting (perhaps ‘frothing’ is a better term) to transport it back down the Hudson River to NYC so it can be sent out and processed in NJ and PA. This will become more of a problem for us in the Hudson Valley.
Last year, “With the stroke of a pen, President Barack Obama ended 40 years of U.S. crude oil export limits by signing off on a repeal passed by Congress earlier in the day….The restrictions lift immediately under a provision in the spending and tax package that the president signed into law. Congressional leaders earlier in the week reached an agreement to end the trade restrictions, established during U.S. oil shortages in the 1970s, as part of a grand bargain that includes tax breaks for renewable-energy companies and refiners….Repeal of the crude-export restrictions reverses four decades of a policy that has defined the nation’s relations with the rest of the world. Without the trade limits, the U.S. — now the world’s largest oil and gas producer — is free to export its crude, as it already does with refined products including gasoline. The U.S. Senate passed the bill with a vote of 65-33 after the House approved the measure 316-113 hours earlier.”
Today, Mayor Steve Noble adopted Local Law #3 regarding “Rules and Regulations of Shooting Ranges in the City of Kingston”. In a press release issued this afternoon, he states:
“Over the past few months, the City of Kingston facilitated an open public process to address an antiquated local law that was no longer relevant or appropriate for our community. In doing so, the members of the Common Council, particularly the Laws and Rules Committee, participated in a robust and critical dialogue. I sincerely want to thank our Common Council for taking on this arduous task, for thoroughly and completely investigating the gaps in language in the outdated law and identifying best practices and models to adopt. It is through this process we have before us a comprehensive and effective piece of legislation that protects the rights and interests of all of our residents.
Equally as important, I want to thank the members of the public who participated in this process. It is not easy to believe in something with such passion and conviction and be met with resistance from others who simply will not agree. I cannot offer a simple solution to the complex nature of conflicting values and opinions. All I can do, and will do, is continue to support the rights of each of our constituents to express these differences. I ask that in doing so, we each remember that the person with opposing views is still our neighbor and that a healthy dialogue is built on the foundation of respect and willingness to listen.
Before I signed this law, shooting ranges were not permissible anywhere in the City of Kingston. While some will contend that Kingston has historically hosted a number of shooting ranges, we cannot refute the fact that from 1978 until 2016 this activity was not reflected in our law as an allowable discharge of firearms.
I signed this law today, not due to fear or public pressure. I signed this law because it is reasonable, appropriate, and quite frankly, it is our duty as leaders in our community to expect a potential new business to meet the standards and requirements clearly outlined in this document. It is my opinion that every law should be so detailed and transparent. I welcome this process as a way to ensure that when we refer to a law, there is no guesswork or vague interpretation involved. Our citizens deserve to live in a City where our laws are practical, well-defined, well-researched, and equitable to all constituents.
With the passage of this law, the City of Kingston is sending a message that safe, responsible new businesses are welcome and encouraged here and that we are committed to ensuring prospective business owners have clear guidelines and expectations.”
VIEW:Local Law of the Common Council of Kingston, NY Adopting the Rules and Regulations Regarding Shooting Ranges
Please view public comment from both of the Mayor’s hearings this month below. Filmed by Clark Richters of Kingston News. Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.
Mayor’s Public Hearing #1 Thursday, July 21, 2016 6:00pm
Mayor’s Public Hearing #2 Thursday, July 28, 2016 6:00pm
Kingston Common Council Caucus (Monday, 7/11)
Kingston Common Council Meeting (Tuesday, 7/12)
Caucus:Conference Room #1 (7/11)
Council Meeting: Council Chambers (7/12)
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway Kingston, NY
Caucus: Monday, July 11th @ 7:00pm Council Meeting: Tuesday, July 12th @ 7:30pm
Sign-up to speak and secure a seat at the council meeting on 7/12/16 at 7:15pm.
The Kingston Common Council holds its monthly caucus and council meeting in July.
Local Law #6 (known as the Rochester Law), that proposes clearer requirements for shooting ranges in Kingston. It is a local law that will have its second reading and a full council vote on July 12th.
This event will be filmed and brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to Clark Richters and Kingston News
We encourage the public to attend and to speak on Tuesday, July 12th in support of the council adopting Local Law #6 (the Rochester Law). Local Law #6 emphasizes the creation of important buffers for a business such as a shooting range within our city limits.
The issue is not about burdening the right to have a gun or to practice using a gun. Given the potential health and safety issues of a shooting range, finding the appropriate location for one is key. In our opinion, an appropriate location is NOT inside a densely populated or highly used area.
The Kingston Common Council will hold its monthly caucus (Monday, July 11th) and full council meeting (Tuesday, July 12th) this month, a week later than normal scheduling due to the July 4th holiday weekend.
Among other important topics that evening, council business will include the second reading and a full council vote of Local Law #6 (known as the “Rochester Law”). This vote is the outcome of months of discussion and debate to properly vet Kingston’s current firearms law.
The Common Council will vote on whether it “wants to set specific criteria and restrictions for the opening of indoor shooting ranges in the city, or adopt a simpler approach that does not limit where such facilities could be operated.” (*See below)
PROPOSED LOCAL LAW #6 OF 2016 ADOPTING THE RULES AND REGULATIONS REGARDING SHOOTING RANGES ESTABLISHED BY THE CITY OF ROCHESTER IN 2011 IN ITS ENTIRETY WITH THE REQUISITE CHANGES TO ADAPT TO KINGSTON’S CIRCUMSTANCES
The new vetted law (Local Law #6 of 2016) aims to provide clearer regulations for operating indoor shooting ranges in Kingston, including important buffers “that would prohibit any new range from being located within 1,000 feet of the entrance to any school, church, hospital, youth recreational facility or location which, in the opinion of the police chief, would create a nuisance to any nearby resident.” (*See below)
PROPOSED LOCAL LAW #5 OF 2016 ADOPTING THE RULES AND REGULATIONS REGARDING SHOOTING RANGES
In our opinion, this unvetted law would “allow indoor ranges anywhere in Kingston with Planning Board approval” and should be dismissed. (*See below)
We encourage the public to attend and to speak in support of the council adopting Local Law #6 (the Rochester Law). Local Law #6 emphasizes the creation of important buffers for a business such as a shooting range within our city limits.
The issue is not about burdening the right to have a gun or to practice using a gun. Given the potential health and safety issues of a shooting range, finding the appropriate location is key. In our opinion, an appropriate location is NOT inside a densely populated or highly used area.
After months of public speaking opportunities and hard work by both citizens and elected/appointed officials alike, the Kingston Common Council majority voted to send back an amended Firearms Law in early May that had been crafted by Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown (the sole Republican) to committee (7-1,) due to it not having been properly vetted. Ward 6 Alderman Tony Davis abstained from the vote as he is employed by the Kingston City School District, after the Board of Education opposed the location of the shooting range in a resolution delivered last December of 2015. READ/VIEW
The law was assigned to Kingston’s Laws and Rules Committee, where the opportunity held promise that committee members would focus their energy on reviewing, in a coordinated fashion, the wealth of information for discussion that included model laws (where three had been presented by Kingston’s Corporation Council), a comprehensive study of the collective concerns of Midtown’s stakeholders, the recently adopted Kingston Comprehensive Plan, other appropriate state laws and whatever else was placed in front of them. If done properly, the process probably wouldn’t take very long and a new draft law that was embraced by the majority might have been sent out to the council for the local law process to begin.
At last evening’s Laws and Rules Committee meeting, council members (there are five that include ward 1 alderwoman Lynn Eckert who is committee chair, ward 5 alderman and majority leader Bill Carey, ward 9 alderwoman and minority leader Deb Brown, ward 3 alderman Rennie Scott-Childress and ward 7 alderwoman Maryann Mills) had a full slate of issues to discuss. One of which that we have been closely following is amending the current City of Kingston Firearms law.
The effort, having come about due to a proposal to place a shooting range and gun shop on Prince Street in Midtown, Kingston, has been a contentious one and the public has worked over many months to share their points of view and research to be placed on record during public comment opportunities. The result of which made the case for the current Firearms Law to be sent back to committee where it belongs, above and beyond anything else, so that council members are certain to get amendments right by a thorough vetting process.
At the onset, it was noted that a packet of ‘model laws’ had been sent to committee members in advance by Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein. Ward 3 alderman Rennie Scott-Childress said that after reviewing them all, he found the City of Rochester’s Firearms Law to be the best written law to consider, and suggests that it be used as the model for their efforts.
Maryann Mills states that the models are just a “stall tactic”.
When a motion is made for Rochester’s law to be used as a model, it is rejected by the committee majority (Deb Brown, Maryann Mills and Bill Carey) now moving out of committee to the council with a negative recommendation.
Later, Deb Brown’s amended text that she crafted, and that would allow indoor shooting ranges in Kingston, was brought back up and this time, included new language suggested by Maryann Mills to include more detail of the State of New York’s Penal Law (perhaps in response to the Veteran’s concerns).
What we learned, last night based on Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein’s interpretation of the penal law was that the Veteran’s memorial services and any of the current reenactments were never in jeopardy. The law apparently had always allowed it. Please viewfor more detail: Video 2, starts at: 29:55
Before having the chance to look through any of the materials that had been submitted for discussion, a motion to move the amended law written by Deb Brown and Maryann Mills out of the Laws and Rules committee took place (supported by Bill Carey, who had also supported a thorough process shortly before). Deb Brown, Maryann Mills and Bill Carey not only rejected the potential model, they also passed through a completely un-vetted Firearms Law, again. It now moves out of committee, and onto the council with a positive recommendation.
We appreciate citizen participation, and know how hard the public has worked on this. It is with regret that we must relay that we are all made to ask for a third time that the Firearms Law be sent back to committee where it never should have left in the first place until the law has been given the opportunity to be properly vetted.
WHAT TO ASK
That the Kingston Common Council at caucus (Monday, June 6) and their monthly meeting (Tuesday, June 7) request that the Kingston Firearms Law be sent back to the Laws and Rules Committee for a thorough vetting process.
WHO TO CALL (Please feel free to call all council members if you’d like. Here are key members for next month’s discussion)
A recent submission from Kingston City resident Neil B. Millens
AMENDING KINGSTON’S FIREARMS LAW: Begins at 10:53
10:53 Deb Brown and Maryann Mills discuss their amended text. 12:56 A packet of models are introduced. 13:22 Ward 3 Alderman Rennie Scott-Childress feels the City of Rochester is the best model from the package presented by Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein. Deb Brown and Maryann Mills states that they haven’t seen it, and accuse models as being ‘stall tactics’. 15:32 Maryann Mills “I like what Deb wrote and how I amended it. What is it about Rochester’s law that you like better?” 15:42 Rennie Scott-Childress “It’s clearly researched. It better matches our comprehensive plan…” etc. 17:52 Maryann Mills notes Dr. Soyer’s lawyer, who wrote a letter to the council, that she says mirrors what is in the Rochester Law. She believes that it’s all addressed in his information. Rennie clarifies and says ‘but none of it is in the city of Kingston’s law”. 23:05 Mention of a communication from the Board of Education on the safety zone for guns. The school board says it went out to the entire council, and states that the ATF did not do proper measurements. 24:36 Dr. Soyer explains that he (ATF) provides a flyer to municipalities, but (the ATF) doesn’t take measurements, and there is no mechanism to do that.” The federal law does not prohibit private property from engaging in business and that the 1000 foot requirement doesn’t apply. He’s never seen anything about a ‘safe zone’ before. He hasn’t seen a sign, doesn’t know what the distance is, etc. 27:07 Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein states ‘strongly’ that this is a discussion about the law, and not Dr. Soyer’s Safe Shoot. It’s problematic to be talking about amending a statute to accommodate or defeat a specific proposal that is in front of the planning board. 28:18 Bill Carey states that the safe zone has nothing to do with the business. 29:55 Dan Gartenstein states that ‘Veterans shooting blanks out of rifles are not firing rifles. If there are no bullets, you’re not discharging a gun.” 30:52 Board of Education (BOE) president Nora Scherer points out that they mapped out the distance between the Prince Street location and Kingston High School on Google maps, which is what the ATF would have done as well. The Gun Free School Zone Act was not enacted when the law was originally written. In terms of legislation, how the act may be interpreted. 31:55 James Shaugnessy from the BOE adds that he has concerns of what Dr. Soyer saying being true. You’re talking about around the shooting range, that he doesn’t feel this should be allowed within the school zone, and states a statistic. The common council has a shared responsibility with the BOE that the children are safe before, during and after school hours. 33:52 Maryann suggests to move forward, to include Penal Law in its entirety. 35:40 Motion to add the Penal Law into the amended text. 50:29 Maryann asks about the Business Park, and notes JFK school (but what she is not understanding is that the location is more than 1000 feet away from the school). She states to push a business out of Kingston is absurd. We need whatever revenue we can get. “This is safe. I have researched it myself.” 52:35 Rennie sees it oppositely. That amending the law encourages opportunity. If we are going to choose to have a shooting range, we should be careful. We want the right business, and that’s what the comprehensive plan is all about.
00:00 Rennie speaks about the importance of diversity in business in response to questions prior to in the last video. 2:30 Bill Carey says he’s a no vote on the Rochester law, but it doesn’t mean he’s against it.
3:58 Ward 8 alderman Steve Schabot endorses a model to help to make the law clear. 5:05 Restates a motion to adopt the City of Rochester Firearms Law. Lynn Eckert and Rennie Scott-Childress are yes votes. Bill Carey, Maryann Mills, Deb Brown oppose. The resolution moves out of committee and onto the council with a negative recommendation. 5:44 A motion is made to pass through committee Deb Brown’s amended text with Maryann Mill’s changes. Lynn states “..is that right, that the law you wrote that was already sent back is what we are voting on now” 8:06 Maryann clarifies that the amendment that Deb Brown wrote now includes the penal law. Dan Gartenstein states what Maryann is speaking of is Section 7B and gives an explanation about discharging vs. possession. 13:30 Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein clarifies the law in the way that it may impact the Veterans, and he states clearly that it does not. 24:22 Dan Gartenstein reads text of the new amended law. A vote is called. Lynn Ekert and Rennie Scott-Childress are opposed. Deb Brown, Maryann Mills and Bill Carey are in favor. Deb Brown’s text with Maryann Mill’s changes is passed out of committee and on to the council in June with a positive recommendation.
WHERE: Conference Room #1
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway Kingston, NY
WHEN: Tuesday, May 17th, 2016 7:00pm
WHY: The council’s Laws and Rules Committee will hold their monthly meeting where amending the current Firearms Law is scheduled to be on the agenda.
There is no scheduled public comment period for this meeting.
This event will be filmed brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to Clark Richters and Kingston News
On Tuesday, May 17th at 7:00pm, the City of Kingston’s Common Council’s Laws and Rules Committee will hold their monthly meeting in conference room #1 at Kingston City Hall. Scheduled to be on the agenda will be a discussion of the amended Firearms Law, which the public expects will be the start of a thorough undertaking, looking closely at all of the items highlighted at a number of public hearings that are posted below. There is no scheduled public comment at this meeting.
VIEW Kingston Common Council Caucus and Full Council Meeting (5/2/16 and 5/3/16)
VIEW Laws and Rules Committee meeting 4/19/16 Public Comment
VIEW City of Kingston Planning Board Meeting Public Hearing 12/14/15
By the way, it was brought to our attention that in 1996, the Kingston Common Council, during a similar contentious debate over a proposed Gentleman’s Club on East Chester Street, hired a consultant to prepare a study. The purpose of the study was “to determine the potential primary and secondary impacts that may be associated with adult businesses, if such uses were to be established within the City of Kingston. At present, there are no lawfully existing adult businesses within the City.”
We believe that this is a model for the Firearms Law, as deserving for the same amount of care.