What’s On The Ballot? Ulster County General Election November 8, 2016

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FIND
your polling place in Ulster County

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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?”          

YES    NO

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

The Hijacking of a City of Kingston Social Media Site?

A recent Hudson Riverport Post on Facebook
A recent Hudson Riverport Post on Facebook

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.

ADDITIONAL READING:

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.

VIDEO: Memorializing Resolution Passes Through Kingston Common Council Opposing Anchorage Proposal.

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By Rebecca Martin

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.”

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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.

READ:  “Citing navigational safety, Kingston alderwoman won’t oppose Hudson River Anchorages.”  (Daily Freeman)

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.”

On the Proposed Anchorage Project: What Owners of Local Businesses in the Hudson Valley Can Do.

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.

Speaking With One Voice On The Proposed Anchorage Project.

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By Rebecca Martin

** Public comment has been extended to December 6th. Our post reflects this change. 

VIEW: Commercial Shipping Organizations Proposal

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.

Why?

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.”

Read more…

Local Law #3 (Shooting Ranges in Kingston, NY) is Adopted by Mayor Steve Noble.

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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

WHAT TO EXPECT: Kingston Common Council Meetings in July and Local Law #6 (aka the Rochester Law)

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WHAT:

Kingston Common Council Caucus  (Monday, 7/11)
Kingston Common Council Meeting (Tuesday, 7/12)

WHERE:

Caucus:    Conference Room #1   (7/11)
Council Meeting:  Council Chambers  (7/12)
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway  Kingston, NY  

WHEN:

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. 

WHY:

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

CITIZEN REQUEST

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. 

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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)

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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)

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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.  

*Excerpts in quotes from the Daily Freeman  VIEW

Process Rules. Vet the Kingston Firearms Law.

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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.

Read more…

VIDEO: Laws and Rules Committee Meeting 5/17/16

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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 view for 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)

 

Alderman-at-Large James Noble
commoncouncil@kingston-ny.gov
(845) 331-4696
Majority Leader and Ward 5 Alderman Bill Carey
ward5@kingston-ny.gov
(845) 339-1361
Minority Leader and Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown
ward9@kingston-ny.gov
(845) 338-0763
Ward 4 Alderwoman Nina Dawson
ward4@kingston-ny.gov
(845) 616-8592
READ
A recent submission from Kingston City resident Neil B. Millens
AMENDING KINGSTON’S FIREARMS LAW: Begins at 10:53 

Excerpts:

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.


WHAT TO EXPECT: Laws and Rules Committee Meeting Tuesday, 5/17/16

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WHAT:
Kingston Laws and Rules Committee Meeting 

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

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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. 

VIEW
Adult Use Study prepared by Greenplan, Inc. 

So it’s not the first time that the City of Kingston had to grapple with whether or not a potential business would provide a positive addition or detriment to the community.

VIEW
Adult Use Zoning Ordinance that followed, and where the study is noted.

 

 

 

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Amending the City of Kingston’s Firearms Law.

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Now that it has been determined that the current City of Kingston’s Firearms Law is to be fully vetted and amended,  citizens have an opportunity to submit their research to the laws and rules committee for consideration.

Amending the law is not based on public opinion.  Rather, reform is established by existing local, state and federal laws that are currently in place.  Therefore, if you are interested in submitting your research with applicable links to Kingston’s Laws and Rules Committee, please do so by writing to Lynn Eckert, Ward 1 Alderwoman and Laws and Rules Chairperson:   mailto: lmeckert80@gmail.com

Get your information to the committee chair prior to the next laws and rules committee meeting on Tuesday, May 17th at 7:00pm.

VIDEO: Kingston Common Council Caucus (5/2/16) and Full Council Meeting (5/3/16)

We are pleased to bring you video from this week’s common council caucus (5/2) and full council meeting (5/3). As you will see, we have marked much of the content specifically focused on the items that we have been following recently that include amending the firearms law and the Pilgrim Pipeline memorializing resolution. However, there is a good amount of information throughout, and we encourage you to take the time to also view the remainder of the footage.

Citizens did a great job in supporting the council in their decision making process last night, and in sharing their opinions on the location of the proposed shooting range. The outcome was that the council sent the amended firearms law back to the laws and rules committee for further vetting, which was seen as a positive action by all sides. In addition, an important memorializing resolution was passed showing Kingston’s support of Bill A9831a   sponsored by Assemblyman Skartados, “an act to prevent the construction of pipelines to transport hazardous substances or petroleum on property under the jurisdiction of the New York Thruway Authority.”

Although the items listed in the agenda move around some, everything is covered and you can follow along:

VIEW: Agenda

VIEW: Legislation

* Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Filmed by Clark Richters of Kingston News.

Read more…

WHAT TO EXPECT: Amending Firearms Law and Kingston Common Council Next Week. 

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As you are aware, last week at Kingston’s Laws and Rules Committee meeting, an amended version of Kingston’s Firearms Law (Chapter 223-3 in Kingston City Code) drafted by Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown (that had been looked over by Kingston Corporation Council) was presented to vote to pass it through committee to council. The amended version states that No person, other than in self defense or in the discharge of official duties, willfully discharge any species of firearms within the city limits of the City of Kingston, NY except an indoor facility designed and constructed as a shooting range, pursuant to a site plan approved by the City of Kingston Planning Board and operated in compliance with the laws and regulations of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Division of Safety and Health of the New York Department of Labor

The amended law, however, was rejected by the committee with a 2-3 outcome. In favor was Ward 9 Alderwoman Deb Brown and Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills. Opposed was Ward 1 Alderwoman (and committee chair) Lynn Eckert, Ward 2 Alderman Doug Koop and Ward 5 Alderman (and Majority Leader) Bill Carey.

The law now moves out of committee and on to the Common Council next week (as a rejected item from committee) for a full council vote. Ward 6 Alderman Tony Davis, who works as a teacher for the Kingston City School District, must abstain and is considered a ‘no’ vote to whatever the outcome is next Tuesday due to the Board of Education’s resolution issued in early December of 2015.

A little refresher on how this all works.

The council meets on the first Monday of each month (this month, the date falls on May 2nd at 7:00pm) for their caucus where each of the parties have the opportunity to look over the draft agenda and legislation that will be placed in front of them to discuss. Generally at this meeting, council members debate each item and typically, the direction of the vote during the common council meeting is decided. This meeting is always open to the public. However, it is held in a small conference room which limits its capacity and generally, the public is not given the opportunity to speak.

On the first Tuesday of each month (this month, the date falls on May 3rd at 7:30pm), the Kingston Common Council hold their monthly meeting, where legislation and other items are put to a vote. This meeting is held in council chambers where hundreds of citizens can be easily seated.  Up front, there is always a public comment period where anyone can speak on matters that are on the agenda or otherwise. Generally, the public comment period is 30 minutes in length, and citizens are asked to keep their testimony to 2-3 minutes in length to allow for as many comments as possible.

WHAT TO EXPECT:

Monday, May 2nd, 2016  7:00pm  Conference Room #1    VIEW CALENDAR ITEM
Members of the Kingston Common Council will discuss the Amended Firearms Law that was rejected out of the Laws and Rules Committee and other agenda items.  This is an opportunity for the public to witness their council in action discussing the matter, and all other items on the agenda that evening.    THIS EVENT WILL BE FILMED.

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016   7:30PM  Council Chambers   VIEW CALENDAR ITEM
Members of the Kingston Common Council will cast their vote on the Amended Firearms Law and other agenda items. There is public comment up front starting at 7:30pm. Citizens wishing to speak should arrive at 7:15pm to sign- up at the podium and to secure a seat in council chambers.  THIS EVENT WILL BE FILMED.


THE FOCUS:

We request that the public support the council to send the amended Firearms Law back to the Laws and Rules committee for the text to be further vetted. This is in everyone’s best interest. The spirit of this law is a public safety and health issue, and there is no way around the fact that the law leaves out many critical features that should be in place to protect our community’s best interests.

WHAT CITIZENS CAN DO:

If you are only able to attend one of the two meetings, then we encourage citizens to attend the Kingston Common Council meeting that will take place on Tuesday, May 3rd at 7:30pm where the council will vote on the amended law. If you are comfortable to speak, then we request that you do so encouraging the council to move the amended law back to the Laws and Rules committee for further vetting. Citizens can also encourage or discourage the location of the shooting range/gun store – however, this discussion is more appropriate for the planning board and not the common council this evening. Changing the law is in their purview. Planning and zoning next week is not.

Residents can also submit a letter on the subject to the Kingston City Clerk
Carly Winnie at: cwinnie@kingston-ny.gov and request that she submit your letter to record, and to distribute to the entire common council and council president.

If your testimony includes support or opposition to the location of the range, please send it also to the City of Kingston Planning Department addressed to the Director of Planning Suzanne Cahill at: planning@kingston-ny.gov  requesting that it go on record and be distributed to all members of the Kingston Planning Board.

NOT FEAR. JUST THE FACTS.

KingstonCitizens.org is a non-partisan, citizen-run organization focused on increasing citizen engagement in local government and we’ve been at it for a decade. Regardless of how we have been portrayed, this platform does not take personal positions on issues.  We simply point out the law and process, and in light of which, make recommendations based on both.

We also work hard to provide information to help Kingston citizens be more informed on issues that are of grave concern. Because we are a citizen run organization reliant on volunteers, we cannot take on every issue that comes down the pike, though we wish we could. We do, however, use each issue selected by members of our advisory committee to illustrate the concerns of the public and, to expose any disconnects that might be present on any of the subjects in the way of transparency and process. We believe that when both are intact, than a more fair outcome is possible.

What we have found is that on any issue we are focused on, many of the same concerns we raise are re-occurring elsewhere.  It takes a village as they say, and hopefully, this work helps to encourage more citizen engagement in Kingston on all issues both large and small.   Being civic minded is the public’s responsibility, after all.

In light of which, in a recent article, Ward 5 Alderman (and Majority Leader) Bill Carey is quoted as saying “I think the fear is unfounded” regarding the location of the shooting range and gun shop being proposed for Prince Street in Midtown Kingston.

This point of view should be challenged. It is important to point out the Kingston Board of Education, in their resolution signed on December 9th, 2015 states that:  “…in the interest of safety and welfare of the students, faculty, employees and others present at the Kingston High School, hereby expresses its opposition to the establishing of a shooting range and gun store in close proximity to the Kingston High School campus…”

Here are several reasons why that on the public safety, health and economic development front (and given much of the public testimony), that concerns are indeed fact and not fear based:

Proximity of schools and childcare center.  The proposed shooting range and gun shop will be located at 92 Prince Street in Midtown, Kingston. This is close to the Kingston High School (within 655 feet).  The high school serves almost 3,000 students, and employs more than one hundred teachers and staff members. Further, the high school serves other students both within and outside of Kingston through after school activities such as sporting events, theater productions, and musical performances. The shooting range and gun shop is within 375 feet of the YMCA.   The YMCA serves thousands of children and parents, not only in Kingston but throughout Ulster County.

Public safety: prevalence of guns in a densely populated area. According to the Brady Center, where there is a concentration of guns, there is a concentration of gun violence.

Public health and welfare:  Despite guidelines about lead contamination for shooting ranges, recent research from the CDC shows elevated blood lead levels in ranges’ employees and customers. In Sacremento, an indoor shooting range was closed because of high levels of lead contamination inside and on the roof; lead levels were 70 times higher than the state hazard threshold.  One of the world’s leading safety engineering firms Tetra Tech said that increased attention to lead contamination and human health exposure “has put range owners and operators into areas outside of their expertise.”

Also, although the district is zoned for commercial use, it is in a “Mixed-Use Overlay” district, which allows residential.  The range is also next to a residential block.  The rear wall of the proposed range — and direction of the firing — is 70 feet from the nearest residence and residential block.

Public awareness: The public needs to understand how public business is conducted. Laws are not amended only on the basis of public opinion. They must be vetted for public safety, health and welfare. It is important for the public to participate with full knowledge of what constitutes and is acceptable process under the law.

Economic Development and Kingston Comprehensive Plan: Kingston 2025 appropriately envisions “a new core” in Midtown Kingston where the creative economy can take root and businesses can grow. It aspires to create a mixed-use center in Midtown, “with multi-family residential incorporated with ground floor retail; pedestrian and bicycle friendly streets; active use of sidewalks; traditional architecture and historic identity.”

“These nodes will be connected not only by a network of streets supporting slow-speed/high-capacity vehicular travel, but by a network of on-road and off-road bicycle paths, and by public transit ranging from shuttle bus to trolley.”  Prince Street and the intersecting network of streets are at the heart of this district.

At the last Kingston Laws and Rules Committee meeting, residents and neighbors spoke in support and against the amended law and, the location of the range. We encourage you to VIEW this video for your information.

Finally, we’d also like to clarify, that in the spirt of Democracy,  KingstonCitizens.org respects all points of view. It is important to understand that a shooting range and gun shop inside of Midtown, Kingston – a Kingston specific issue – is far different than that of the Niagara Bottling proposal – one that had regional implications and that would impact communities in different ways that included Kingston, Woodstock, Town of Ulster, Saugerties, Port Ewen and Esopus.

In this case, Kingston’s Common Council needs to hear from Kingston citizens, and especially those who live, work and attend public schools, youth activities and child care in the Midtown area. Although public comment is open, we request that citizens living outside of the area respect those living in Kingston first. Specifically those in Midtown, which is the heart of Kingston. A good amount of investment has been poured into this area, and a lot more is known to be coming. That mustn’t be lost in this debate.

 

FURTHER READING:

Kingston Times: Gun Shooting Law Amendment Likely to be Revised.