By Tanya Garment
The City of Kingston adopted a new comprehensive plan on April 5, 2016, a vision and guide which replaces our old 1961 Comprehensive Plan. This new plan is called Kingston 2025. After Kingston 2025 was adopted, a committee to propose zoning to support the goals of our new comprehensive plan was formed. The committee was facilitated by the same consultant and met sporadically over the course of approximately a year, holding informational sessions and public forums. From this effort, the consultant drafted a document called “Proposed Comprehensive Amendments” and submitted it to the City of Kingston before their contract concluded on December 31, 2017.
Around that time, City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble stated that there was much rezoning work still to be done, and announced that a new group would be assembled to continue the job. The proposed zoning document was uploaded on the City of Kingston’s website in January of 2018 with the impression that a new group, once assembled, would rework the recommendations to eventually present to the Kingston Common Council for passage.
What came as a surprise to many watching this effort closely, was the recent official communication submitted to the Common Council (on March 28) by Assistant Corporation Council Daniel Gartenstein, requesting that the council move forward with one of the recommendations from the zoning document prior to the new group being established.
“RE: Combination of HLPC/HAC In the interests of coordinating the review of proposed projects in the City of Kingston, our office is recommending that the Council move forward with combining the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Heritage Commission. Our office has drafted proposed legislation which we believe addresses the issues discussed by the Zoning Revision Commission. I will be forwarding a draft of the proposed revised legislation in the coming weeks. Pending completion of the draft, I would request that you forward this communication to the Laws and Rules Committee for inclusion on their April agenda. I thank you in advance for your assistance with this matter.”
Below are notes on the aspects of what the Comprehensive Plan Zoning Committee worked on that have to do with the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission (HLPC) and the Heritage Area Commission (HAC). You will see that the consultants did not begin to prepare a proposal for the HLPC and HAC until April of 2017, and a first draft of code was written in October of 2017. The Comprehensive Plan Zoning Committee last met in April of 2017. This was followed by one presentation and three forums for the public to learn about what they had come up with.
I have included information on the proposed design guidelines because in ‘streamlining’ the two commissions, the combined HLPC and HAC would now be responsible for reviewing all plans submitted within design districts (outside of historic districts), for an advisory opinion. Also of note is that the area that is currently known as the Broadway Overlay Design District, while currently the purview of HAC, would now be decided by Kingston’s Planning Board for large projects and Department for smaller ones.
The document, Proposed Comprehensive Amendments, written by the consultants, Shuster-Turner, after the last public forum, as their contract was about to end shows no significant changes made as a result of public feedback or of feedback by members of HLPC and HAC who attended the forums.
10/12/16 Draft of Urban Core Design Overlay District
VIEW: Agenda with Memorandum
(Coordination Historic, Cultural, and Urban Design Review starts on page 5)
-The Urban Core Overlay District is proposed to replace:
§405.31.1., RF-R Development Standards (Planning Board)*
§405.31.2., Broadway Overlay District (HAC)
§405-63, Stockade Area Landmark District (HLPC)
*In the 1/10/17 Progress Report, they change the boundaries of the Urban Core Design Overlay District.
-“The Planning Board, the Heritage Area Commission and the Landmark Preservation Commission will each have a role, consistent with their responsibilities and expertise, in a manner that does not subvert their authority under existing law”
-Under Applicability and Administration, Administration is written “in preparation”. (LATER, 1/10/17 Progress Report designates Planning)
1/10/17 Progress Report drafted
(discussed by committee at 2/27/17 Meeting)
LINK: Progress Report
LINK: February 27th meeting minutes
-A plan to draft new zoning code for a combined historics (HLPC & HAC) is discussed at 57 minutes in of part 1 video.
– Zoning of Specific Geographic Areas starts on page 13
-Form-Based Zoning starts on page 59.
-Urban Core Design Overlay District starts on page 79.
– Urban Core Design Overlay District boundaries are changed here. “Design District Boundary. These Design standards apply to the actions set forth in (2) below within the designated Design Overlay Districts in the Stockade Area, Broadway and Rondout (lower Broadway) areas’ They do not apply to the RF-R Rondout Creek District which has separate standards.”
-Urban Core Design Overlay District B.(3) (a)Administration “These Standards will be applied by the City Planning Department and City Planning Board during its review of the actions set forth in 2.a and b. above, in accord with $_, with the assistance of the Code Enforcement Officer”
It does not mention HLPC/HAC, other than that they give an advisory report.:
“B. (3)(b)Referrals All actions subject to approval by the Planning Board shall be referred to the (Heritage Area and/or (?) Landmarks Preservation Commission) for an advisory report.”
*It is in the 4/10/17 memo that we are told that historics is regulatory for landmarked districts and buildings.
3/23/17 Special meeting about combining HLPC and HAC
-Actual code for this not yet drafted, by this meeting.
3/27/17 Updates reviewed and HLPC/HAC discussed
-Discussion about a proposal to combine and reorganize the duties and responsibilities of HLPC and the HAC is at 18 minutes in.
4/10/17 Memo drafted regarding the combining of the HLPC and HAC
-“Set forth below is an outline of the necessary steps to achieve the above objectives…….Upon agreement as to the basic approach, the detailed language for the proposed legislation must be drafted.” (Is was drafted on 10/12/17)
-“3.b. Design Review The Commission will be responsible for the architectural design review function now distributed among three agencies (Planning Board, Landmarks Preservation and Heritage Area) for the three different design overlay districts established in the Zoning Law [*See 1/10/17 Progress Report ‘Referrals All actions subject to approval by the Planning Board shall be referred to the (Heritage Area and/or (?) Landmarks Preservation Commission) for an advisory report.’] Cross references will be made to the Urban Core Design Standards proposed in the Zoning Law. Design review in designated historic districts will be the sole responsibility of the Commission. Decisions by the Commission in designated historic districts may be appealed to the Common Council. ”
4/19/17 Combination of HLPC and HAC was discussed
10/12/17 HLPC/HAC code drafted
VIEW: Draft code
-This draft was never reviewed in a Comp. Plan Zoning Committee meeting, as the last meeting, was in April. Some members of the committee commented on it at the, later, October public forum.
-This code is not proposed to be in Chapter 405, Zoning. It is proposed to go under General Legislation.
-“§ 264-12. Review in Design Overlay Districts To be completed including reference to specific Design Standards to be included in the Zoning Law (Chapter 405)”
12/17 Proposed Comprehensive Amendments drafted
Uploaded to City website 2018
-A “Revised” version of the 1/10/17 Progress Report. HLPC/HAC code is incorporated here.
-This draft was written AFTER the last public forum (12/17) AND AFTER the last Comp. Plan Zoning Committee meeting (4/17).
– Zoning of Specific Geographic Areas starts on page 51
– Form-Based Zoning starts on page 52.
– Proposed Revisions To the RLC District starts on page 63.
– Strategy for Uptown Core Area Zoning starts on page 66.
– Landmarks Preservation and Heritage Area Commission starts on page 115
-Page 5 says “Historic Preservation/Design Review ln consultation with the HLPC and HAC, a new Commission consolidating both current Commissions is proposed to administer the functions requiring review by these two bodies, as well as the Planning Board…”.
*It is important to note that the consultants and Comp. Plan Zoning Committee developed this independently from the HAC and HLPC. The HAC and HLPC were apprised of the plan after it was developed.
-Page 6 has added: “Since the City has been awarded a large grant by New York State to undertake further detailed planning for the Uptown Area, it would be premature to propose specific zoning amendments until that process is completed.”
-RLC and Uptown Core sections here replace Urban Core Design Overlay District section of Jan. ’17 draft.
-Midtown Form Based Zoning section says “(12/31/17)”, but is unchanged here aside from the layout.
Changes from Oct. ’17 draft of Landmarks Preservation and Heritage Area Commission code:
Purpose and Intent B. is rewritten.
-Appeals now would go to ZBA (EARLIER draft, it was to Common Council).
-Review in Design Overlay Districts is re-worded.