VIDEO: Kingston Planning Board and the ICC, Boarding House, Hospital Campus. Kingstonian Project Tabled.

By Rebecca Martin

At last evening’s Planning Board meeting, we captured several items for the public to review that include:

  1. The Irish Cultural Center’s third request for a site plan application in the Rondout, Kingston.  (Item #8)
  2. A controversial ‘boarding house’ special use permit on West Chestnut Street, that has been vying for permission to be approved as a ’boutique hotel’.  (Item #7)
  3. A downsized project of Benedictine Hospital on Mary’s Avenue (Westchester Medical) by Health Alliance of the Hudson Valley.

The developers for the Kingstonian tabled their project yesterday afternoon.

Read more…

Kingston’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Importance of Procedure

 

 

 

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This post was updated December 21, 2018, to clarify two details. Firstly, the assistant corporation counsel, who provides legal counsel to the city’s commissions and boards, insisted to the Commission that the transcript of the final hearing would be sufficient for explaining the rationale of the Commission’s decision in lieu of a thorough written decision. Secondly, frequent intrusions in the commission’s final deliberations were made by the applicant and their lawyer and not other members of the public.

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“The purpose...is to provide for the promotion of the educational, cultural, economic and general welfare of the public through the protection, enhancement, perpetuation and preservation of landmarks and Landmark Districts. The legislative body declares that it is in the public interest to ensure that the distinctive landmarks and Landmark District shall not be injuriously affected, that the value to the community of those buildings having architectural and historical worth shall not be impaired and that said districts be maintained and preserved to promote their use of the education, pleasure and welfare of the citizens of the City of Kingston and others.” 

Legislative Intent of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission, City of Kingston Administrative Code §405-63

By Marissa Marvelli

Following established procedures is key to any review by a quasi-judicial commission or board. Any misstep, big or small, can result in a judge rejecting its decision on appeal. This is precisely what has happened with the decision of Kingston’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission (HLPC) to deny the Irish Cultural Center (ICC) a “preservation notice of action” for their proposed new building in the Rondout Historic District. In her ruling, the Honorable Lisa Fisher of the State Supreme Court correctly notes how the members of the HLPC failed to render a clear written decision that contains specific references to the zoning code. Without that in hand, she, like Kingston’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), was left to parse the transcript of the hearing, which she accurately describes as “erratic.”

The HLPC failed in its review of the ICC—not on principle but on procedure. The final written decision of the HLPC is inadequate in describing the Commission’s reasons for its denying approval for the ICC.  No member of the Commission was directly involved in the composition of the written decision, a concern that was raised by members in the weeks following the final hearing.  In response, the assistant corporation counsel for the City of Kingston, who provides legal counsel to the city’s boards and commissions, insisted that the transcript would be sufficient for conveying the commission’s rationale. That transcript, which by default became the primary record of the hearing, documents a circuitous deliberation by Commissioners with frequent intrusions by the applicant and their lawyer.  The record further reveals the difficulty that Commissioners had in interpreting the criteria for review as outlined in the code, because the language is too vague and weighted towards the consideration of changes to individual buildings rather than new construction in historic districts. In this light, it is not difficult to see why the ZBA and this judge concluded that the HLPC’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious.”

One of the fundamental duties of the HLPC when reviewing proposed changes in a historic district is to ensure that the character of the historic district is maintained, and “prevent construction, reconstruction, alteration or demolition out of harmony with existing buildings insofar as character, material, color, line and detail are concerned, and thus to prevent degeneration of property, to safeguard public health, promote safety and preserve the beauty of the character of the landmark or Landmark District.”    (City of Kingston Administrative Code §405-64 D)

No single detail defines a historic district’s character. It is the multitude of details taken together that creates a distinctive environment and sense of place. Such character-defining qualities include the relationships of buildings to each other and to the street. Do the buildings form a continuous streetwall or are they spaced apart? Are they situated directly at the street or are they set back from it? What was the historical development trend that led to their existence? Is there a discernible rhythm or pattern of details, be it building sizes, roof massing, cornices, or windows? Many districts have multiple rhythms. Character is also defined by the type of buildings, their construction, and scale—the architecture of a single-family dwelling is different than that of a store-and-loft building in terms of massing, façade proportion, materiality, fenestration, and building features like porches and storefronts.

The qualities described above are aesthetic ones. It is incumbent on members of the HLPC to consider all of them when considering the appropriateness of new construction in a historic district, be it an addition to an existing structure or a wholly new building on a vacant site.

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VIDEO: Ianucci Development (formerly “Super Garage”) Public Informational Meeting

 

Last night, the developer Robert Ianucci hosted a public informational meeting in the Rondout, where we learned that his initial design was nothing more than “a concept.”  (Architect Paul Jankowitz @ 59:00 on Tape #1)

The public made some great points and suggestions, although a highlight for me, was the idea to create an architectural competition, to lay out guiding principals and then to invite some of the youngest and brightest architects from all over the world to consider what could be built there.  “It doesn’t have to be traditional – and anyway,  what you’re proposing doesn’t reflect the architecture of old Kingston at all.”  (Starts at 00:00 on Tape #2).

The location is nestled into a residential area and nearby Riverview Baptist Church and the AJ Williams-Myers African Roots Library – communities essential to engage going forward.

Some of Kingston’s best organizers were present, including Ann Loeding who is collecting names for upcoming meetings and to solicit comments going forward.  If you wish to be included, please contact her at:  aboatgrrl@yahoo.com

Thanks to The Kingston News for recording the meeting, brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.

(Photo credit:  Clark Richters)

VIDEO: City of Kingston and UCRRA Board and Staff Discuss Transition Strategy for Recyclables.

Today, Mayor Steve Noble and DPW Superintendent Ed Norman met with the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) requesting a short-term extension from single-stream recycling to dual stream recycling through June 30, 2019.   It appears some headway was made – and we appreciate everyone’s efforts.

You can review the full discussion below thanks to The Kingston News and brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.

VIEW:  “Kingston Residents Can Mix Recyclables Beyond Jan. 1, 2019” in the Daily Freeman

 

City of Kingston to Negotiate Single Stream Recycling Materials Through June, 2019.

By Rebecca Martin

On Wednesday, December 12th at 2:00 pm the UCRRA Board is hosting a special meeting to discuss the City of Kingston’s request to extend the acceptance of SSR (Single Stream Recycling) beyond December 31, 2018.  VIEW

This is an important step forward as if the City of Kingston and UCRRA can come to the table to agree, our single-stream recycling will continue to be managed by UCRRA through June 30th to allow the city of Kingston to complete its recycling transition plan. Otherwise, we will have to manage it on our own and that doesn’t make any sense in the short term.  It’s KingstonCitizens.org’s goal to encourage a compromise.

We ask citizens who can’t attend this week to support UCRRA and the CoK in their negotiations on our behalf.

CoK Mayor Steve Noble
mayor@kingston-ny.gov

UCRRA Executive Director Timothy Rose, PE
tros@ucrra.org

Thank you for your willingness to work together on Kingston’s single-stream recycling transition. We respectfully request that UCRRA continue to accept Kingston’s single-stream recyclables until June 30, 2019 to allow us to complete our recycling transition plan.

Thank you for your consideration. Please distribute our request to all UCRRA board members.

Name
Address

 

 

 

VIDEO: Kingstonian Proposal Informational Meeting at the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The Kingstonian proposal will appear on the Kingston Planning Board Agenda on December 17th at 6:00pm.

 

By Rebecca Martin

In what was a ‘coordinated review’ of sorts, project spokesman Joseph Bonura and members of JM Development Group LLC gave an informational meeting at the City of Kingston’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission (HLPC). It’s smart, because by meeting with our HLPC early – they will benefit by getting feedback on the proposal before their review process begins. This not only saves time in the long run, but it puts their best foot forward by starting off with a more realistic project in one of our historic districts. Already the project has improved by doing so – and we would expect that it will continue to go in the right direction with the input and guidance of our historic professionals.

The Kingstonian project will be on the agenda of the next Planning Board meeting on Monday, December 17th (new business) Items #11 and #12.  AGENDA

Video from last evening was made by The Kingston News, brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.

 

City of Kingston Requests Additional Outreach for Citizen’s Potentially at Risk in EJ Area For Proposed Power Plant Project

By Rebecca Martin

Last evening, the Kingston Common Council unanimously passed Resolution No. 227 “Requesting an (Enhanced) Public Participation Plan for Lincoln Park LLC (also known as GlidePath and/or the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center) as per the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Policy (CP) 29.” This relates directly to a fossil fuel peak energy power plant being proposed in the Town of Ulster, where only 1.3 miles away (and downwind) is Kingston’s Rondout that includes an environmental justice area identified by the DEC.

What’s this all about and why is it significant?

For the last 12 months, KingstonCitizens.org – along with our environmental and citizen partners – have been following the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process for the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center, a 20 MW natural gas fired generation plant with diesel backup and battery storage project being proposed in the Town of Ulster, NY.

VIEW “Toolkit and Video: Residents of Ulster County and “G” Zone Counties: Temporary Moratorium on Fossil Fuel Power Plants to Address Zoning. 

During the public scoping process, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in its “Comments on Draft Scope” (March 20th, 2018) for the proposed “power plant” under Air Resources stated that, “Air Permit Applications are subject to the Department’s Environmental Justice Policy (CP-29).”

The intent of the Commissioner’s Policy (CP) requires the applicant to incorporate environmental justice into the permitting process and prepare a Public Participation Plan.

Kingston’s Environmental Justice area that was identified as being potentially impacted (in Rondout, Kingston, only 1.3 miles South of the proposed project location) would be provided with sufficient time, tools, and the opportunity to clearly voice, and have their comments be considered.

On July 23rd, 2018, Mayor Steve Noble wrote a letter to Kelly Turturro (DEC Region 3) as a follow-up, asking that the DEC “…send a written notice to the applicant requesting that it immediately commence compliance with the requirements of the Department’s Environmental Justice Policy, as specific in the Department’s March 20, 2018 Comments on Draft Scope.”

Process Steps:  Passing Resolution No. 227.

As we awaited an update from the DEC and GlidePath on this matter, on October 29, 2018 KingstonCitizens.org asked that the Kingston Common Council amplify the Mayor’s request and also ask that the DEC direct the applicant to prepare and submit an enhanced Participation Plan for review and approval, so that it can be implemented before the public comment on the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) is opened – which we are expecting to be delivered at any time.

VIEW: Page 1 of request
VIEW: Page 2 of request

The process steps included getting the item on the Public Safety Committee agenda for November for discussion. The resolution language was looked over by Kingston’s Corporation Council, and sent out of committee to caucus where it went to the floor to be voted on last night – and passed unanimously.

It was a great night for this item to be on the agenda, too, as we also got to witness the Municipal ID program as well as the Mayor’s 2019 Municipal budget all pass unanimously.  We’d like to thank our elected and appointed officials and staff alike for their thoughtful leadership and hard work.

Part One
18:20 – 21:40
Rebecca Martin, KingstonCitizens.org

Click on image for individual testimony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

37:15 – 38:40
Sue Rosenberg, CAPP-NY

48:55 – 51:33
Iris Marie Bloom, CAPP-NY


Part Two
Local Law of 2018 Municipal ID Program passes unanimously

Part Three

Resolution #220 to approve the city’s general fund budget for the fiscal year 2019, as Amended.

8:58 – 11:30
Ward 2 Alderman Doug Koop (Chair of Finance Committee)

11:34 – 14:06
Ward 3 Alderman Rennie Scott Childress (Majority Leader)

14:08 – 15:01
Ward 9 Alderwoman Andrea Shaut

15:02 – 17:19
Ward 5 Alderman Bill Carey

17:24 – 18:08
Ward 7 Alderman Patrick O’Reilly

Resolution is adopted 9/0

Resolution #227 requesting public participation for lincoln park llc per dec policy 29 

23:57 – 27:13
Ward 6 Alderman Tony Davis

Resolution is adopted 9/0

Brooklyn Real Estate Management Company Negatively Impacts Quality of Life in Ulster County.

 

Last evening, we attended the Sunset Gardens Tenant Association meeting at the Town of Ulster’s Senior Center.  One after another, tenants of apartment complexes in the Towns of Ulster and Esopus spoke of the shocking disrepair, unsafe conditions and treatment of those living at Sunset Gardens (ToU), Lakeshore Villas (ToE) and Black Creek Road (ToE).  Special thanks to Laura Hartmann and all of the citizens from Sunset Gardens who had the courage to organize.

The culprit – E & M Management – the real estate investment and management company based in Brooklyn, NY is mostly new to the area, gobbling up apartment complexes that include “68 apartments across from the Rondout Creek” in downtown Kingston and a vacant parcel near the Maritime Museum to build the “Kingston Waterfront Plaza”, a mixed-use project.  There is speculation that they are looking at Dutch Village, too – in uptown Kingston.

Although the planning process in Kingston is complete for their new build downtown – with a negative declaration in SEQR which is absolutely unbelievable – we are continuing our efforts to advocate for an improved development process for our planning department and planning board. We will keep a close eye on this company and work with our neighbors to assure that if E & M and all of their LLC partners want to come to our community, it is not on their terms.

Thanks to Clark Richters of The Kingston News for filming the event, brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.

 

VIDEO: Kingston Planning Board – ICCHV, Verizon Communication Tower, “Super Garage” Proposal

By Rebecca Martin

There was a big turn-out at last evening’s Planning Board meeting, where several items of interest were discussed. They included a Communications Tower being proposed near Colonel Gardens (a public housing complex in Ward 7);  The Irish Cultural Center’s (ICCHV) site plan public hearing; and a new proposed project, the ‘Super Garage’ located in the Rondout, Kingston. 

Here are highlights. 

The outcomes were mostly predictable.  The proposed Communications Tower was tabled while the applicant performs a balloon test for visual impacts and looks at a secondary site in the Town of Ulster; the ICCHV was also tabled, although there was some confusion from the public as to what they were expected to comment on without materials or any communication/guidance by the planning department, and the “Super Garage” project and lot line revisions were both tabled as well.

We asked the planning board to table the proposed communication tower project (which they were going to do anyway), in light of learning about New Hempstead’s model law for cell towers.  In order to allow the Kingston common council to analyze the overall planning issue and to decide where and under what conditions tower constructions may proceed, a brief moratorium on cell towers given our ongoing comprehensive plan and zoning amendment work could be requested.

VIEW
Model Law (New Hempstead)

VIEW
NYSDOS Recommendation on Communication Towers

VIEW 
NYSDOS Moratoria on Land Use

Robert Iannucci, the project applicant for the “Super Garage” project, will host a public informational hearing on Thursday, December 6th at 6:00pm at the Cornell Steamboat Building located at 108 East Strand in the Rondout.

VIEW
Facebook Event on “Super Garage” Public Informational Hearing

Read more…

TONIGHT. Important Topics at Kingston’s Planning Board Meeting. What They Are and What You Can Do.

By Rebecca Martin

At tonight’s City of Kingston Planning Board meeting, there are three topics that we are following. You can view them below to learn what they are and suggestions for what the public can do.

The meeting will be held at Kingston City Hall (420 Broadway) 3rd Floor, Council Chambers. For items without a public hearing, please arrive early to sign-up to speak. Public comment occurs at the top of the planning board meeting.  Tonight’s meeting will be filmed by The Kingston News thanks to KingstonCitizens.org

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Verizon Wireless Communication Tower in Ward 7

Item #7: #261 Flatbush Avenue SPECIAL PERMIT/SITE PLAN to install a wireless service facility/communication tower. SBL 48.74-4-31. SEQR Determination. Zone RR. Ward 7. Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless/applicant; John & Tirzah Sheehy/owner.


WHAT IS THIS?

When this item came up last month at the October Planning Board meeting,  the Board “voted unanimously to table the application and refer it to the Ulster County Planning Board. Staff will work with the applicants on preparation of visual simulations as well as a balloon test to show the height of the tower. The public hearing will remain open until the November Planning Board meeting.”  Ward 7 Alderman Patrick O’Reilly spoke during public comment (O’Reilly represents Ward 7 where the communication tower is being proposed).  According to last month’s minutes, O’Reilly was  “interested in knowing how much radiation is emitted from these types of towers. He said that there are already cell towers on top of the neighboring water tower and that this would be in addition to those. Also, he is interested in the visual of the tower and how it would look from the surrounding neighborhoods. He said that there are beautiful views in that area and he would like to know how these views would be affected.”

Of note, the location of this tower is in close proximity to one of Kingston’s public housing complexes.  

Read more…

2018 General Election Ballot and Proposal No. One “An Amendment for Independent Redistricting”.


 

By Rebecca Martin

(Click on the image to view the Ulster County Board of Elections Sample Ballot)

Attached is a copy of the 2018 General Election Ballot that includes Proposal Number One, “An Amendment Shall Section C-10 of the Ulster County Charter be amended to provide for the creation of an independent Redistricting Commission, designed to exclude political influence in revising county legislative districts, as proposed and unanimously approved by the Ulster County Charter Revision Commission.”  Make sure on election day, that you turn the ballot over to find the referendum, located on the back of the ballot. 

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GUEST EDITORIAL: A Landmark Day for Landmarks

By Marissa Marvelli

October 17 was a great day for historic preservation in Kingston for three reasons:

1) Mayor Noble, in presenting his proposed budget for 2019, announced that he is creating a permanent part-time preservation administrator position in the Planning Department. Members of the community have been advocating for such a position for years. If the Common Council approves the Mayor’s budget, The City of Kingston will soon have a knowledgeable person on staff to answer questions about district boundaries, help applicants with projects needing commission approval, promote historic tax credit opportunities, advance municipal preservation goals, and more.   (Click on image to review Mayor Steve Noble’s 2019 Budget Announcement starting at 15:50 – 16:36)

2) Following the Mayor’s budget presentation, the Common Council’s Laws & Rules Committee convened for its monthly meeting. Chair Bill Carey announced that the committee is no longer considering the Corporation Counsel’s draft legislation to merge the Heritage Area and Historic Landmarks Preservation Commissions (HLPC). Instead, other solutions are being studied to improve the efficiency of the two commissions, such as eliminating overlapping application reviews.  

Read more…

A Correct Path for a Complete and Proper Reset of Historic Preservation in Kingston (and just in time).   

By Rebecca Martin

At last evening’s Kingston’s Historic Preservation Landmarks Commission (HLPC), the group introduced a draft of an updated preservation ordinance, modeled after the 2014 preservation ordinance, in accordance with the Certified Local Government guidelines (SHPO) and with preservation ordinances from Saratoga Springs, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester.

Kingston having the rich history that it does, and seemingly everyone’s support to preserve it, requires clear guidelines, policies and laws which we simply haven’t had in place for a long time. Additionally, and for decades, the City of Kingston’s HLPC has been siloed from everything else. Today, we are on a clear path for a complete and proper reset of what is old and fragmented preservation guidelines. We encourage everyone to view this 50-minute discussion.  It’s illuminating and exciting to see a process like this being handled so professionally.

You can follow along with the video (starting at 2:00) and the powerpoint presentation (click on image below for the entire PowerPoint) created by HLPC’s Vice Chair Marissa Marvelli.

Read more…

Invitation to Webinar (Earn Credits) Tuesday, September 25 @ 3pm: Living in the “G” Zone: GlidePath, Peak Energy Power Plants and Zoning.

KingstonCitizens.org is presenting a webinar specifically for all planning and zoning professionals living in the “G” Zone (Ulster, Orange, Greene, Rockland, Putnam and Dutchess Counties). We hope that you or someone you delegate can attend on Tuesday, September 25 from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm.     A Q&A segment will be allotted at the end of the presentations moderated by Rebecca Martin of KingstonCitizens.org.

WATCH Webinar

Attendance to this free webinar event provides credits for the following: AICP (American Institute of Professional Planners) and NYS Planning and Zoning Board

This webinar event is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org in partnership with Scenic Hudson, Citizens for Local Power and Riverkeeper.   With support from TownOfUlsterCitizens.org, CAPP-NY, Catskill Mountainkeeper, NP Climate Action Coalition. Additional supporters TBA. 

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“Strong” Turnout for Press Conference on the Proposed GlidePath Fossil-Fuel Power Plant in Town of Ulster.

Today, over 25 residents gathered at a press conference organized by TownOfUlsterCitizens.org and Pat Strong, candidate for District 46 State Senate. The group met on Riesely Street in the Town of Ulster, a densely populated residential neighborhood and ‘ground zero’ for the proposed Lincoln Park Grid Support Center, a gas-fired fossil power plant project by GlidePath.

“Glidepath, a company from Illinois, who has never built a fossil fuel project, wants to come into our town, and build something we don’t want, we don’t need, and that gives us no benefits whatsoever.” said Laura Hartmann, one of the founding members of TownOfUlsterCitizens.org. “They come because they can get their emissions permits easier because of our clean air.  They come because of the financial incentive from NYS of $1.4 million before they even flip the on switch.”

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