Laws and Rules Committee Public Hearing on January 15 at 6:00pm Regarding a Rezoning Request for the Kingstonian Project.

In June of 2019, after months of the Kingston Planning Board reviewing the Kingstonian project application and well into the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process, the project developers submitted a zoning petition to the Kingston Common Council to request an extension to the current Mixed Used Overlay District (MUOD) and zoning map to include 0.313 acres (approximately 12%) of the Kingstonian project site that lie outside of the MUOD. But as it turned out, the council would need to postpone any discussion or decision-making for this request (and all of its discretionary decision making for the project) until after the SEQR process concluded.

With the SEQR process behind us (in December of 2019, the Kingston Planning Board as Lead Agency issued a negative declaration determination), the Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, January 15 at 6:00pm at Kingston City Hall (council chambers) located at 420 Broadway for a request to rezone a portion of the Uptown property where the Kingstonian mixed-use development is proposed to be built

KingstonCitizens.org will deliver its petition requesting that the common council provide a full accounting of Kingstonian public funds before it proceeds and that Ward 5 Alderman Don Tallerman recuse himself of any decision-making given his early public support and conflicts of interest (see our testimony below for more details).

The public is invited to provide testimony that evening of approximately 2-3 minutes in length (the time allotted will be set by the Laws and Rules Committee chairman Jeffrey Ventura-Morell). It is uncertain whether there will be an open public comment period following the public hearing. If you are unable to attend, we recommend that you submit your comments to the council members (listed below) as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about the public hearing, please contact Jeffrey Ventura-Morell directly.

Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee

Jeffrey Ventura-Morell, Chair
ward1@kingston-ny.gov

Rita Worthington
ward4@kingston-ny.gov

Don Tallerman
ward5@kingston-ny.gov

Rennie Scott-Childress
ward3@kingston-ny.gov

Patrick O’Reilly
ward7@kingston-ny.gov

Andrea Shaut, Council President
commoncouncil@kingston-ny.gov

To the members of the Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee from KingstonCitizens.org:

In the summer of 2019, KingstonCitizens.org organized a petition drive that requests that the Common Council uphold the affordable housing mandate of the Mixed Use Overlay (MUOD) and request a full accounting of Kingstonian public funds as was required by the City for earlier development proposals. While the developers have finally incorporated some affordable housing units into their project (but only by expanding an already overscaled development), the total amount of taxpayer dollars that the Kingstonian developers say is required to make the project happen has yet been disclosed.

Beyond the $6.8 million in New York State grants that have been publicly awarded (Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Restore NY, and a separate Empire State Development Corporation grant), the public remains in the dark about the following: 

  1. The value of tax breaks to be sought from the Ulster County Industrial Development Association through what is known as a PILOT;  
  2. The value of all municipal real estate to be given over to the project, including Fair Street Extension and the city parking lot parcel on North Front Street; 
  3. The municipal parking revenue that will be lost once the lot is sold; 
  4. The total cost of infrastructure upgrades the City will have to undertake to accommodate a project of this magnitude; and, 
  5. Any other public grants, tax credits, or subsidies the developers may be seeking but have not disclosed.  

Given the long-term profits that the development team stands to gain with this project, the total public investment to be made to realize this project must be outlined. It is the Common Council’s fiduciary responsibility to determine whether the public benefit is worth the public cost. As the Ulster County Planning Board wrote in its September 4, 2019 letter to the City of Kingstons’ former Common Council President James Noble, “It would be appropriate as part of the public/private partnership that this project represents that the public understand how much of a role they are being asked to play.”

On behalf of KingstonCitizens.org, we present a hard copy of the petition with 240 signatures respectfully requesting that you obtain and disclose the full accounting of all public subsidies to be used for this project as well as a copy of the developers’ pro forma before you consider amending the Mixed Use Overlay District boundaries and any other discretionary approvals for the Kingstonian project. 

Additionally, we request that Ward 5 Alderman Don Tallerman, who is a member of the Council’s Laws and Rules Committee, recuse himself from any decision-making pertaining to the Kingstonian project. Not only does he appear in a promotional video on the developer’s website he has also delivered public testimony in favor of the zoning change (while opposing the call for affordable housing for the project and supporting the PILOT its parking garage). His testimonies occurred months after he had already declared his candidacy for the council (Daily Freeman 2/20/19: Kingston Democrats Choose Slate of Candidates for November Election). Because he operates an event venue, the Senate Garage, that is directly across from the project site, he stands to significantly benefit directly financially from the development which represents a conflict of interest.

Thank you.

Ward 5 Alderman Don Tallerman, who currently serves as a member of the council Laws and Rules Committee, speaks in support of the Kingstonian Project months after he was tapped as the Kingston Common Council Democratic Ward 5 Alderman candidate.
Ward 5 Alderman Don Tallerman, who currently serves as a member of the council Laws and Rules Committee, delivered public testimony in favor of the zoning change (while opposing the call for affordable housing for the project and supporting the PILOT for its parking garage). His testimonies occurred months after he had already declared his candidacy for the council

(UPDATE: Following our post, the Kingstonian Project removed Don and Judy Tallerman’s video of support from their website, as seen above. But we still have it)


Additional Reading:

READ: Kingstonian Zoning Amendment and the Kingston Common Council

READ: Take Action and Written Comments Accepted for Kingstonian Zoning Amendment Through Friday, August 16 (from 2019)

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