Is Proposed Shooting Range in Midtown Kingston Illegal Under City Code?

 

12670333_495578203958183_1121558481408475066_nAs citizens of Kingston are aware, last fall a proposed shooting range project came up on the radar for Midtown. Initially, the City of Kingston’s Planning Board, perhaps wishing to avoid a contentious and emotional public comment period on 2nd amendment rights, declined to host a public hearing on the subject.

A small group of citizens, however, respectfully pressed for one and ultimately, the planning board obliged.  In December of 2015, the first public hearing was scheduled and many good points were raised.

VIEW  public comment from December’s public hearing on the proposed shooting range. 

Testimony from this hearing revealed that a shooting range inside of Kingston is actually illegal.  Kingston City administrative law 223-3 specifically prohibits the discharge of firearms. “No person, other than in self-defense or in the discharge of official duties, shall willfully discharge any species of firearm within the city limits of the city of Kingston, New York.” 

There are other concerns for our Planning board to contemplate on Monday.  Regardless, the purpose of zoning is to uphold “the protection and promotion of the public health, safety and welfare” of a community.  Decisions of a Planning and Zoning board are not based on opinion.  Their role is to uphold the law and the law clearly states that discharging a firearm is illegal in the City of Kingston except under very specific circumstances.

So lets start there.

Read more…

The Power of You.

Photo courtesy of the Kingston Times.
Photo courtesy of the Kingston Times.

By Arthur Zaczkiewicz, MSW

News of Macy’s store closure at the Hudson Valley Mall is a serious blow to the local economy as over 70 jobs are expected to be lost. That’s on top of about 70 jobs that were eliminated when J.C. Penney shuttered its doors at the mall last year.

Facebook users expressed sadness – and confusion, too, over the announcement. How could this happen when there’s several hotels being built nearby? New hotels means business is good, right? Then there were a small handful of others who said the community who scared off Niagara bottling and its host of proposed jobs deserved this and/or was cursed. We could have used those jobs – especially in light of the Macy’s closure, right? Well, no.

While the Niagara plant proposal (and its subsequent demise), retail store closures and new hotel construction seem to be disconnected events, I would assert that they are all driven by a single, powerful – and possibly unstoppable – force: you.

Niagara Falls

As reported in great detail in the pages here, the proposed Niagara Bottling plant at Tech City was an exhaustive, emotional affair that resulted in a positive transformation of the community – especially in regard to increasing transparency.

The proposed project triggered the gathering of a strong, and unified majority that stood up against the proposal. Partnerships were formed between community groups. Meetings were held, and events staged – all lubricated by social media.

Citizens gathered and found common ground, which ultimately morphed into a single voice that clearly said this was not a suitable project. Clean, safe and readily available drinking water belongs to the people first.

It was awe-inspiring because citizens themselves made this happen. You made this happen.

Unfortunately, Niagara picked up and moved its project just two hours away, to Bloomfield, Conn. And now that community is trying to sort through many of the same issues that Kingston struggled against.

One of the key issues of the Kingston project was that of transparency and properly informing the public. How could Niagara strike a deal with city officials so stealthily? Why wasn’t the proposed project presented to the public earlier? What happened? Where’s the watchdog?

Read more…

City of Kingston Can and Should Reject the NYS DEC and Thruway Authority Request to Co-Lead SEQR Review for Pilgrim Pipeline Project. Here’s Why and How.

Map-of-SEQR-process

By Rebecca Martin
UPDATE:  Kingston did it! Both the City of Kingston Mayor and Kingston’s Common Council (unanimously) voted to send letters to both the NYS DEC and Thruway Authority.   VIEW the letters. 

On December 21st, the NYS DEC and Thruway Authority both agreed that together, they would become Co-Lead of the SEQR review for the Pilgrim Pipeline Project.

Because Involved Agencies have been waiting for some resolution of the disagreement, expressed by 29 towns, cities and counties, with Thruway’s November 21, 2015 proposal that it serve as sole lead agency, some might have thought that the co-lead agreement between DEC and Thruway was final.  But it isn’t.  It is simply 2 involved agencies making a new proposal for who should serve as lead agency for the environmental review of Pilgrim Pipelines project.  SEQR regulations require that all involved agencies be given the opportunity to respond to this new proposal, which they can choose to consent to or reject.

Furthermore, the reasons cited by 29 Involved Agencies that rejected the NY Thruway Authority’s proposal to be Lead Agency in the SEQR process in the first go-round :  that Thruway stands to gain monetarily from Pilgrim Pipeline to use their right-of-way and that they are not equipped or experienced in managing an environmental review process for such an incredibly large and complicated project, remain true.

The bottom line is that the NY Thruway Authority’s bid to take on the lead agency role was overwhelmingly rejected to begin with and yet they are still in the running. Also perplexing is that on the NYS DEC’s own website, they dissuade co-lead roles in SEQR and instead advise that “a single lead agency be established with the other agency actively involved in the process but not as co-lead agency” and for good reason.  What would occur if the two leads differed in opinion somewhere down the line? Which agency would trump the other for a decision to be made?

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DEC Relays Decision to Co-Lead Environmental Review in Pilgrim Pipeline Proposal.

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) decision to share the environmental review responsibilities with the NYS Thruway Authority for the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline project was a big disappointment to us all at KingstonCitizens.org.

“The three cities who are “involved”  in this proposal – Kingston, Newburgh and Albany – all rejected the Thruway Authority’s request.” said Rebecca Martin, Executive Director of KingstonCitizens.org. “We count on the DEC to uphold their responsibility to protect the environment and our public, and a co-lead in an environmental review process is not a good compromise. From what I know, it is an unprecedented decision and in my opinion, the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal is the wrong project to test out a shared leadership role. We need the lead to be fully unbiased and do not accept one that shares to gain monetarily in anyway. How is the public to trust that it isn’t tainted otherwise?”

Read more…

Got a Recalled Volkswagen? Donate Your $500 Gift Card to an Environmental Group.

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By Rebecca Martin

When we were looking to purchase a car, it was important to us to find not only one from a company that was environmentally friendly, but also in an age of better technology, to purchase a car that had lower emissions while doing better on gas milage.  Of course, an electric car is perhaps the way to go, however the choices currently are limited for what we need,  and very costly too.

So we opted for a Volkswagen (VW) Diesel which promised as we understood it lower emissions and up to 40 mpg + on the highway.

As the world now knows, cars like ours are being recalled. “It’s been dubbed the “diesel dupe”. In September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that many VW cars being sold in America had a “defeat device” – or software – in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to improve results. The German car giant has since admitted cheating emissions tests in the US.” according to a report by the BBC.

When I first learned of this, I called my dealership in Kingston straight away – requesting to surrender the car. I didn’t want to be driving around with an engine “emitting nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times above what is allowed in the US.”  But due to it being a lease and with low mileage, I was told that VW wouldn’t take ours back. That it was “cheaper to fix a newer model then it was to replace it.”

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CALL TO ACTION: Citizen Support Needed TONIGHT (12/15) On Critical Resolutions that includes Microbead Ban, Pilgrim Pipeline, Greenline Project in Kingston.

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By Rebecca Martin

THIS JUST IN:  A new public hearing on the Microbead Ban will occur on 1/19/16 and vote by full legislature sometime before the end of January. It has been tabled for tonight. More information coming soon. But please plan to attend to encourage the legislature to pass the remaining three other resolutions. 

For the past month, KingstonCitizens.org has been following and working towards the public being more aware of the importance to understand the impacts in Kingston of both the Pilgrim Pipeline and proposed Microbead ban proposal – all up for vote tonight at the Ulster County Legislature Meeting located at 244 Fair Street, 6th floor in Kingston. Public comment will begin at 6:30pm.  * THIS JUST IN: Plan now is for new public hearing on 1/19/16  and vote by full legislature sometime before the end of January. TONIGHT’S vote will only include the below three resolutions. 

We have attached information below on each of the resolutions with some key points for you to research before you speak.  Please keep your speech to 3 minutes or less.

Thank you!

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City of Kingston Planning Board Meeting: Public Hearing and Testimony on Proposed Shooting Range

8:03 –  10:00
Introduction of Proposed Shooting Range project. New information regarding the application including a membership makes it not possible for the planning board to take an action this month. The planning board will reconvene a public hearing on January 11th, 2016 meeting.

10:05 – 17:02
Scott Dutton of Dutton Architecture and Dr. Soyer

Public Comment

17:21 – 20:00
James Richer,  not specified

20:07 – 21:50
Donald Gladstone, Hyde Park 

21:56 – 23:40
Elmer LeClair, Kingston

23:49 – 25:40
Frank Ostrander, Olivebridge NY

25:46 – 27:30
Christine Williams, Maybrook NY

Read more…

WHAT TO EXPECT: Public Hearing 12/14 on Proposed Shooting Range project in Midtown Kingston

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By Rebecca Martin

On Monday, December 14 at 6:00pm (VIEW KingstonCitizens.org’s Facebook event invitation) , the Kingston Planning Board will host a public hearing on the Proposed Shooting Range project. The sponsor of the project Dr. Adam Soyer,  an orthopedic surgeon from Kingston, is looking to build a membership based indoor gun range and gun shop at 90 and 92-94 Prince Street by next fall.  The range would be meant for mostly short-range handgun target shooting, with a plan that would host five lanes for shooting as well as a room for education and a gun shop.   It has been reported that gun rentals may also be available.

VIEW
SafeShoot Fact Sheet

The concerns of citizens who are opposed to the project include not only questioning whether or not the location – in the heart of midtown – is best suited for a shooting range where many renters, businesses and schools are located, but also environmental factors such as proper lead disposal (known as “projectiles” or ammunition), safety/quality of life issues such as potential stray bullets, gun sales and rentals and the upcoming adoption of Kingston’s Comprehensive Plan and an imminent citywide zoning overhaul that will follow to clarify the highest use of property in our Midtown area based on years of public input.

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Common Council Unanimously Rejects Thruway Authority’s Lead Agency in SEQR Request. Public Encouraged to Stay Focused on Public Scoping Process Next.

 After the Lead Agency determination deadline on December 16th, KingstonCitizens.org urges the community to stay informed on the many upcoming phases of the SEQR review for the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal as it pertains to Kingston. We are anticipating a large scoping effort next.  Please SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MAILING LIST, and join our growing citizen base to become better informed, educated and effective.  

Photo Courtesy: Riverkeeper.
Photo Courtesy: Riverkeeper.

The following quotes were crafted by Iris Marie Bloom from Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines (CAPP):

Last night, the Kingston Common Council passed a memorializing resolution rejecting the Thruway Authority’s request to be Lead Agency in SEQR for the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline proposal.

“I’m thrilled it passed unanimously,” said Julie Noble, Chair of the Kingston, New York Conservation Advisory Council, after the Kingston Common Council’s 9-0 vote last night.

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WHAT TO EXPECT: Kingston Common Council meeting on December 1st, 2015 and the Pilgrim Pipeline.

what-to-expect-np

What:
Kingston Common Council Meeting

Where:
Kingston City Hall   420 Broadway  Kingston, NY

When:
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Sign-up to speak at 7:20pm. Common Council meeting begins at 7:30pm. Public comment starts at around 7:35pm. 

Why:
The Kingston Common Council votes to pass through a resolution denying the Thruway Authority’s request (or not) for Lead Agency in the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) regarding the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal.  Requests, instead, that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) assume the role. 

Read more…

Pilgrim Pipeline: Kingston Public Safety Committee Rejects Thruway Authority as Lead Agency. Requests DEC Instead.

 

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VIEW the letter to the council from the CAC in its entirety by clicking on the link below.

TIMELY ACTION:  Please attend the next Kingston Common Council meeting on Tuesday, December 1st at 7:30pm and sign-up to speak in support of the City of Kingston passing a resolution that rejects the Thruway Authority’s request to be Lead Agency in SEQR for the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal and, that the DEC take on the role of Lead Agency instead. 

VIEW Facebook Invitation


By Rebecca Martin

On November 16, 2015, municipalities in NYS that are ‘Involved’ agencies in the Pilgrim Pipeline SEQR process were informed by the Thruway Authority (by letter) requesting to be Lead Agency.  With only the allowed 30 day window to respond (which, in this case, would be December 16th, 2015) – hardly any time at all – municipalities are forced to have to act swiftly. At this early stage, all appear to be in agreement that the Thruway Authority should not be leading the environmental review process and that instead, the DEC should take on that role.

Read more…

Kingston’s Role As “Involved Agency” in SEQR and the Pilgrim Pipeline

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Click on this image to view the Lead Agency request letter from the Thruway Authority.

By Rebecca Martin

VIEW: The city of Kingston’s memorializing resolution opposing the Pilgrim Pipeline. 

As you probably read in the papers yesterday (Daily Freeman, 11/18/15), Pilgrim Pipeline, LLC has filed a ‘use and occupancy’ permit application in NY to construct the Pilgrim Pipeline.  According to the papers, the pipeline would run under at least one of Kingston’s roads (as it follows the Thruway).

Because of which, the City of Kingston is an ‘Involved’ agency in SEQR, which means that Kingston will be able to have a voice in determining who is Lead Agency of this project.

This is now incredibly timely, as the Thruway Authority (TA) has sent out “Lead Agency” letters to all “Involved” agencies, which means that one has probably arrived by now at City Hall, and the City of Kingston will need to respond by DECEMBER 16th.  What’s important to note here that during this process, municipalities must respond by this date. Having no response is a supportive nod “yes” to the one requesting Lead Agency status. 

As you may recall in January of 2014, the City of Kingston unanimously passed a memorializing resolution #21 of 2015 ‘in support of the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council’s Recommendation to Oppose the Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline” that was sponsored by the Council’s Public Safety Committee and that passed unanimously.

Why is it important that city of Kingston right now decline the Thruway Authority as Lead Agency, and instead – request that the DEC take on that role instead? First, the proposal may in fact violate New York State Energy and Climate policies firmly in place.  READ: Energy/Climate Programs: NY’s Climate and Energy Portfolio. Additionally, here are five points so clearly outlined by Jennifer Metztgar who resides in the Town of Rosedale, also an ‘Involved’ agency in the proposal. We changed the municipality to reflect our own.

Read more…

Planning Board Meeting: Public Hearing on Proposed Shooting Range in Kingston Public in Midtown, Kingston?

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By Rebecca Martin

Citizens in the City of Kingston spoke regarding the proposed Shooting Range in Midtown, Kingston. Some requested a public hearing, and it appears that the Planning Board has determined it to be appropriate to hold one.

More details shortly. Part three of the video, by the way, will be available later on today.  Please review the video below.

Read more…

Historic Water Sales Referendum Passes in Kingston: 3,625 to 737

Cooper Lake Woodstock NY Photo credit: Corinne Gerval
Cooper Lake
Woodstock NY
Photo credit:
Corinne Gerval

“Rebecca Martin, founder of KingstonCitizens.org, said the decision was an important one. The group has been a strong proponent of the measure. “Congratulations to the citizens of Kingston for taking this important first step in protecting their water by voting ‘yes’ on the water sales referendum,” Martin said via email Tuesday night. “KingstonCitizens.org wishes to thank the leadership of the city of Kingston’s Common Council and our partners, including Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper, Kevin Smith of the Woodstock Land Conservancy and Mary McNamara of the Esopus Creek Conservancy.”  – The Daily Freeman

READ: Four Reasons to Vote Yes on the Water Sales Referendum on Tuesday, November 3rd.

Four Reasons to vote YES on the Water Sales Referendum on Tuesday, November 3rd.

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By Rebecca Martin

Vote YES on the Water Sales Referendum on Tuesday, November 3rd by TURNING OVER THE BALLOT where you will find the referendum.

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The Niagara Bottling proposal came out of the blue for Kingston citizens (VIEW the timeline). After extensive work by a growing coalition of residents and stakeholders to bring as much information to the public forward as possible, Niagara abandoned their proposal on February 15, 2015.  Elected officials acted quickly afterwards, and the City of Kingston’s Common Council unanimously voted (twice), with the Mayor’s approval, to support a Water Sales Referendum that would give the public a say in municipal water sales outside of Kingston’s corporate boundaries to be placed on the ballot this fall. It’s an unprecedented and critical opportunity.

Some have asked, will this impact agreements already set in place? The answer, is no. This referendum impacts any contracts moving forward. The process will have to be determined, but it will allow the council to collaborate with the Water Department to set some real criteria to its decision making as should be the case.

Here are four important points made by KingstonCitizens.org’s Jennifer Schwartz Berky in our piece “In Their Own Words“.

During the Niagara Bottling proposal last year:

#1   
You had no say about whether to sell our limited supply of safe, high quality drinking water to a billion-dollar corporation for a fraction of the rate that you pay.

#2
You had no say about the use of your tax dollars going toward the attraction of a polluting industry.

#3
You had no say about how this would limit further residential and commercial development in Kingston.

#4
You had no say regarding whether this was environmentally detrimental to our community.

If you vote “YES” for the Water Referendum, you will for evermore have a say.   Say “YES” to include Kingston’s Common Council – and the public – to the Water Board’s decision making process in the sale of our precious municipal water.

The referendum will appear on the back of your ballot. Make sure you TURN IT OVER when you vote on Tuesday. 

 

 

Further reading:

* Kingston Water Department issued a ‘Will Serve’ Letter to Niagara Bottling, welcoming them to Kingston before the public had any knowledge of the proposed deal on 9/15/14. Lets make sure that doesn’t ever happen again.      READ

* In Their Own Words. Citizens, elected officials and stakeholders share their views on why citizens should vote YES on the Water Sales Referendum.  READ

* The Mayor of Kingston appoints Water Board Commissioners solely. Who are they, and what experience do they have to help steward our municipal water source?  What is the selection process?  It has all been handled out of the public eye until we started watching last year, and we will continue – as the Water Department, though currently independent, is still a part of Kingston City Government. The Charter states that Water Board Commissioner’s terms are five years, though there are still members who have served since 1981. Why?    READ