Decision Makers Need To Clarify Zoning Petition Time Frame and Request Written Record of Zoning Interpretation for Kingstonian Project.

PUBLIC REQUEST: Please request that the Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee collect the official record from city staff (zoning officer, city planner and/or corporation council) to show – in writing – the city’s interpretation and application of the Stockade Mixed Use Overlay District (a zoning law created for adaptive reuse projects and affordable housing) to the Kingstonian Project (a new construction with market rate housing.)

By Rebecca Martin

Over the past many months upon discovering the Stockade Mixed Use Overlay District (MUOD) listed in the Kingstonian project’s application, we have asked how the overlay, created to encourage adaptive reuse to existing buildings for housing and including a percentage of affordable housing, could apply to a new construction without the affordable housing requirement.  The answer to that question has been virtually ignored by the City of Kingston so far. 

VIEW the original 2005 SEQR Findings Statement and Resolution that established the Stockade and Midtown Mixed Use Overlay district

Then, on June 4th, the Kingstonian development team delivered a zoning petition to the city requesting a zoning amendment to the MUOD to include a portion of the project property lot (about 0.313 acres, approximately 12% of the project) that was currently outside of the MUOD for inclusion.

Guided by Kingston Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein (who serves at the pleasure of the mayor), at the July 19 Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules committee meeting, members of the committee were told that they would need to pass the zoning amendment within a 90-day time period.  That evening, a resolution was passed to move the zoning amendment forward by setting a public hearing on August 12th. Materials would be submitted to the appropriate agencies that included the Kingston Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission (HLPC), Kingston Planning Board and Ulster County Planning Board for their 30-day comment period.  Plans were discussed to pass the zoning amendment by the full council in early September to occur just under the wire of the proposed 90-day requirement without any substantial questions or comments from council committee members (see what was the original proposed timeline for the zoning amendment below).

VIEW the Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee discussion of the zoning petition and 90-day timeline on July 19.

Both the Kingston Planning Board and Kingston HLPC discussed the zoning petition at their July meetings. Planning Board members were confused by the 0.313 acre lot. ‘It doesn’t make sense…this parcel is just hanging out there.” said one member.  “I agree with you.” said the planning board chair. Neither the Kingston’s Planning Department staff or Corporation Council – both present – explained to the volunteer board that the petition was outside of the original MUOD zoning law because it is not within the historic district boundaries and there isn’t any building on the lot that is rehab worthy.

VIEW Kingston Planning Board Discussing Kingstonian Zoning Petition

The Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission, also led by the city’s Planning Director and Corporation Council – passed the resolution without comment. 

Meanwhile, we learned that it was illegal in SEQR for a zoning amendment to be made during a project’s SEQR process.  After relaying that information to the city, council members sought out advice and confirmed it to indeed be the case.  Corporation Council backed off their original 90-day time frame directive, and we were told that the applicant could at their discretion elect to extend the amount of time.

With all this new information, we expect the city to correct the process publicly, as the 90-day time frame was placed on record. Perhaps they’ll do it tonight at the full Common Council meeting out ahead of next week’s public hearing on August 12. This will allow the public the clarity that it needs to properly shape their comments in preparation.

To recap, the original proposed 90-day timeline would have included the following steps.

June 5, 2019   City of Kingston receives a petition for a zoning amendment. The 90 day clock starts to pass zoning amendment.

June 19, 2019   Council Laws and Rules Committee meets to discuss the MUOD zoning amendment request that must pass before the end of the 90 day time period.  A public hearing is set for August 12.

July 10, 2019  Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission deliberates the proposed MUOD zoning amendment. Approves the change without comments. 

July 15, 2019  Kingston Planning Board deliberates the propsoed MUOD zoning amendment. Approves the change without comments. 

August 7, 2019  Ulster County Planning Board meets. The agenda is not currently available. To date, the board has not yet discussed the MUOD zoning amendment request. 

August 12, 2019 (written comments accepted through August 16):  Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee hold a required public hearing on proposed MUOD zoning amendment for the Kingstonian project.

August 21, 2019  Council Laws and Rules regular meeting. The proposed zoning amendment and comments to be discussed. The committee may pass the amendment out of committee and on to the floor for a vote.

September 2, 2019  Common Council Caucus

September 3, 2019  Common Council full meeting

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