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.
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.
Those in favor of the proposal speak to the the need for a safe place to practice shooting for liscensed gun holders and also, the need for education on proper gun use for others. Some are concerned about turning away the potential investment of up to the proposed amount of $500,000.
Recently, the Kingston Board of Eduction took a strong stand on Ulster County Sheriff’s recent comments, and passed a memorializing resolution opposing the project:
“The Kingston City School District Board of Education unanimously adopted a public statement designed to remind KCSD residents that it is illegal to possess a firearm on school grounds. In a separate resolution, the Board also voiced their unanimous opposition to a proposed shooting range and gun store in Midtown.
The BOE #48 resolution states:
BE IT RESOLVED that the Board hereby directs the issuance of the following public statement that shall also be communicated to all local law enforcement agencies, be posted on the District’s website and social media accounts, and prominently displayed at the entrance to every district building and sports venue: While the Ulster County Sheriff has advised all county residents who are licensed to carry a firearm to arm themselves, it is important to know that weapons are prohibited from being in the possession of students, faculty and all other individuals on school grounds, in school buildings or other school facilities unless they have the express written permission of the Superintendent of Schools. The New York State Penal Law makes it a felony to possess a rifle, shotgun or firearm on school grounds (Section 265.01-a Penal Law). It is also illegal to possess spring-guns, air-guns or C02 cartridge guns on school grounds. Anyone found to possess such weapons on school grounds without authorization from the Superintendent of Schools shall be reported to the police authorities.”
Whichever end of the spectrum you might be on, what is important to remember is that you, Kingston citizens, have a public speaking opportunity on Monday night to address the planning board. Therefore, along with everything else that you have in mind to relay, we suggest that you also incorporate items specifically for this body to contemplate that are within their purview.
Here are a few suggestions as you organize your comments for Monday night:
WHAT TO REQUEST:
1) A fair interpretation of Kingston’s current zoning /land use law (highest use of space) in this case.
We notice that most of what exists today in Kingston – Charter, Zoning, etc. – is written in such a way that’s up for interpretation. Therefore, it’s appropriate for the public to request that the planning board be clear about a decision based on their interpretation of zoning as it pertains to this location. That could mean that the zoning board of appeals plays a role in the decision making process to help all to clarify. KingstonCitizens.org’s policy and planning advisor Jennifer Schwartz Berky (who is also an expert in urban planning) is working on more information to share with the public, which we will do as soon as possible.
2) That the Planning Board schedule additional public meetings to answer all of the questions that the public relay on December 14th.
We anticipate a large number of questions to be relayed to the Planning Board and City of Kingston in general that will need to be contemplated and answered. Therefore, we suggest that the public request that the Planning Board schedule additional public meetings/hearings to appropriately answer all of the questions from the public – to the public – in real time (and not only in an online document).
To help move things along, and to respect everyone who wishes to speak on Monday evening as well as to protect the best use of the planning board’s time, speakers should prepare a statement in advance to be no more than 3 minutes in length.