On December 2, 2021, the City held a public hearing which took place as a hybrid remote/in-person meeting, based on the modifications to the Open Meetings Law by NYS Chapter 417 of the Laws of 2021. The Hearing was overrun with technical errors that led to a legal action including an affidavit filed by City of Kingston resident James Shaughnessy (who paid for his own representation in order to participate) who was present – in person – that evening. Mr. Shaughnessy’s comments were not heard through Zoom or on YouTube due to the technical difficulties.
Judge Richard Mott issued a stipulation that rescinded the Kingston Common Council vote on December 7 that approved the partial abandonment of Fair Street Extension. The judge required a new public hearing to be set for January 12 at a location that could accommodate 200 people under Covid restrictions. That location must be designated by the Kingston Common Council no later than December 24.
In a letter dated December 27 and submitted to the City of Kingston Corporation Counsel Kevin Bryant, Alderperson-at-large Andrea Shaut and the Honorable Richard Mott as a follow-up to his stipulation, the lawyer Wayne Thompson, wrote on behalf Kingston resident James Shaughnessy regarding the Common Council’s proposal to abandon Fair Street Extension and identified the following:
“…the order (stipulation) included the directive that the City name a location for the hearing by December 24. As of the time of this writing, counsel has not been notified of the location nor has any information regarding this important hearing been put on the City’s website calendar.”
He also wrote that given the current surge of Covid-19 cases at this time, the circumstances dictate the necessity for modifications to the original order (stipulation) to protect the safety and heath of the public that would include a hybrid meeting and that if the City chooses, it could hold an in-person meeting only at a later date when the current surge of infections have passed.
“…the City must safeguard the health and safety of its residents and take steps to ensure that any interested member of the public can fully participate in the (January) public hearing.”