As readers are aware, in order for the Kingstonian project to proceed, they will need to take over two public properties that are in the midst of very different processes. The first, a parking lot located on 21 North Front Street that the city has been working to transfer to the Kingston Local Development Corporation to handle the sale, which will be contingent on the Kingstonian’s project site plan approval by the Kingston Planning Board.
The second, Fair Street Extension that serves both as a pedestrian walk and public street. This item began moving through committee in October, where the Kingston Common Council’s Finance and Audit Committee “…endorsed a plan to abandon and close a portion of Fair Street Extension to through traffic” for the Kingstonian’s proposed luxury apartment development. The full council is set to vote on this item next week.
Then, on Friday afternoon (11/5), the City of Kingston’s Corporation Counsel received a letter from Victoria Polidoro of the law firm Rodenhausen Chale & Polidoro regarding the city’s plans for 9-17 & 21 N. Front Street and Fair Street Extension, threatening a temporary restraining order.
“Based on the discussion during the Finance and Audit Committee meeting (see below) and the lack of a public hearing notice for November 9, 2021, my clients are concerned that the City will not be following the requisite procedure for the closing of a public street and subsequent conveyance of an interest in the former street bed…our clients are prepared to seek a temporary restraining order from the Ulster County Supreme Court preventing the City from discontinuing and conveying an interest in the Fair Street Extension until all statutory requirements have been followed.”
In the letter, Polidoro outlines the process and procedure for closing a public street and conveyance of public land. “The rights of the public in city streets are inalienable, and may only be sold or conveyed in limited circumstances.” wrote Polidoro. “To discontinue a City of Kingston Street, the Code first requires the City Planner to establish a list of streets or portions of streets which are no longer used as “public thoroughfares” and are now vacant.”
“Code §355-56. The Code then directs the circumstances under which these streets are to be offered for sale, with sale as the only provided for manner of conveying or otherwise disposing of a street: “The [Common] Council shall determine whether the street is of public use or whether it is in the interest of the City of Kingston to sell such street.” Code §355- 58. Property descriptions, assessments, public hearings, and ultimate approval of any deal to sell the public street by the Common Council and Mayor are required before a public thoroughfare can be conveyed. Code §355-61-63, -65. The City must hold a public hearing on ten days’ notice regarding the proposed sale before it can be approved. Code § 355-62.
The Kingston Common Council will likely discuss their anticipated vote on the Fair Street Extension conveyance and easement to the Kingstonian developers during their caucus on Monday, November 8. If they foolishly proceed as previously planned, they will vote on this item at the full monthly Common Council meeting on Tuesday, November 9.