Zoning, the Mixed Use Overlay District, Comprehensive Plans and the Kingstonian Project

A comprehensive plan is a powerful document in New York State that creates a framework for making important decisions while guiding growth and development. Kingston’s own plan, adopted by the Common Council in April 2016, quite forcefully calls for an affordable housing requirement in new developments:

“Strategy 1.1.2: Require affordable housing for any new or expanded residential building or development project.  The City should consider expanding the number of projects that must provide a ‘fair share’ of affordable housing. Currently, affordable housing is only required for projects taking advantage of the mixed-use overlay district provisions.” (p. 21, Kingston 2025)

The City of Kingston continued to promote that goal in its 2017 Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) application in which the Kingstonian Project was proposed:

“Housing development in the Stockade Business District (SBD) has been limited, and a significant percentage of renters in the SBD and surrounding area are cost burdened, spending more than 30% of their incomes on housing costs.”  (Executive Summary of the City of Kingston’s 2017 DRI application).

However, in February of 2019, the developers of the Kingstonian Project submitted an application that includes 129 market-rate residential units in the Stockade District. The mandate for affordable housing that is outlined in Kingston’s Comprehensive Plan seems to be ignored with this substantial project.

At its first hearing on April 10th, the Kingston Planning Board began accepting public comments for the proposed Kingstonian. To date, the Board has not provided a timeline for review, a date for when the public comment period will close, or indicated when the Planning Board as lead agency will likely make a positive or negative declaration (pos or neg dec) in the project’s State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), a decision that is meant to be made within 20-days following the acceptance of lead agency.

Since February, KingstonCitizens.org has spoken with many stakeholders about potential significant environmental impacts as it pertains to the Kingstonian Project. We have also fielded questions about the applicant’s zoning listed in its  Environmental Assessment Form (EAF).

 

 

What is a C-2 Zone in the City of Kingston?

The mixed residential and commercial Kingstonian Project is located in a C-2 zone where residential use is not a permitted as-of-right use. The City of Kingston Zoning Code for a C-2, short for Central Commercial District (§ 405.17), outlines uses that are permitted as-of-right:

A building may be erected, altered, arranged, designed or used, and a lot of premises may be used, for any of the following purposes by right and for no other: Retail stores; banks, including drive-in windows; service businesses, such as, but not limited to, barbershops, beauty parlors, tailors and dry-cleaning stores, custom dressmakers, jewelry repair, shoe repair, travel agents, auto rental offices, appliance repair and duplicating businesses and job printing establishments having not more than 10 persons engaged therein; business, professional and governmental offices; theaters and assembly halls; restaurants, art or craft studios or studios for teaching the performing arts; libraries, museums and art galleries; manufacturing, assembling, converting, altering, finishing, cleaning or any other processing of products where goods so produced or processed are to be sold at retail, exclusively on the premises, in accordance with the requirements of § 405-16B(13); public and private off-street parking lots and parking garages unless accessory to and on the same lot with a use otherwise permitted, such garages and parking lots shall be limited to use by passenger automobiles exclusively.”

Wouldn’t the Kingstonian Project be required to gain a variance for residential use by the City of Kingston Zoning Board of Appeals? It doesn’t appear to due to it being within a Mixed Use Overlay District.

What is the Mixed Use Overlay in the Stockade District?

The Mixed Use Overlay District (MUOD) was adopted in 2005 as an amendment to the City’s Zoning Code following three years of debate. (See “Kingston council OKs Uptown/Midtown loft law,Daily Freeman, 5 January 2005. ) The primary purpose of it was to ease the regulatory burden of converting upper floors in existing commercial buildings to residential use. Instead of applying for a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals, building owners could apply for a less onerous Special Use Permit from the Planning Board.

There are two MUODs in the city: the Stockade and Midtown. The thinking of council members at the time was that by making the adaptive reuse of commercial buildings in these districts for residential lofts easier, it would incentivize the creation of affordable housing units. Much of the text of the amendment (which was created with assistance by Greenplan, a planning consultant out of Rhinebeck) focuses on affordable housing, which is “intended” to be based on guidelines outlined therein. It is intended to apply to adaptive reuse projects containing five or more residential units wherein 20% of those units must be maintained as affordable (defined as 80% of the Ulster County median income.) Such units are to be dispersed throughout the proposed housing project, be indistinguishable from market-rate units, and the affordable unit rents are not to exceed 30% of a household’s income.  

But there are few (if any) buildings in the Stockade that could accommodate five units or more. An analysis of these properties is likely to show that no affordable units have been created in the Stockade District with this regulation. (See  Upstairs Apartments Fail to Materialize in Stockade, Midtown Kingston,” Daily Freeman, 11 February 2007.)

In addition to promoting the creation of affordable housing, the MUOD text describes a second underlying purpose: “to encourage mixed-use, mixed-income, pedestrian-based neighborhoods.” (§ 405-27.1, subparagraph B-2) It seems that the Kingstonian Project, which neither proposes any affordable housing nor seeks to adaptively reuse any buildings, is narrowly interpreting this second clause as the basis for its qualifying for the more expeditious Special Use Permit application process. (In its Environmental Assessment Form, the applicant flags the MUOD as an applicable zoning measure.) To achieve this second purpose, the amendment allows “site and building enhancements that promote a mixed-use, mixed-income, pedestrian-based neighborhood” to qualify for a Special Use Permit. Apparently, “site enhancements” can be interpreted to mean new construction.

More on Market-Rate and Affordable Housing.

At this time, all of the residential units planned for the Kingstonian Project will be market rate, which has no rent restrictions. A landlord who owns marketrate housing is free to attempt to rent the space at whatever price the local market may tolerate. In other words, the term applies to conventional rentals that are not restricted by affordable housing laws. So while the project entirely skips over the affordable housing purpose of MUOD, it is availing itself of the special use permit perk that comes with being in a MUOD.

A decade ago, the Teicher organization proposed a similar mixed-use project— though shaped differently and without a street closure—on a portion of the Kingstonian site. It received a positive declaration in SEQR with the attendant public scoping process. In its final scoping document, the Teicher team outlined an affordable housing plan where they would “…present a program and procedures that will result in at least 10% of the proposed housing units being set aside as affordable/workforce housing units as defined in the City Zoning Law.” It also stated that “…the plan may identify any appropriate options for promoting or creating such affordable housing units in off-site locations in lieu of within the proposed development.”

It is important to note that the City of Kingston’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) application touts the goals of the MUOD and places them in context of Kingston’s 2025 Comprehensive Plan as it pertains to affordable housing in commercial districts:

“…the overlay was mapped in 2005 to allow for the adaptive reuse of industrial and commercial buildings for rental and affordable housing and to promote the development of a mixed-use, mixed-income, pedestrian- based neighborhood. Properties within the overlay district have certain affordable housing requirements and pedestrian-friendly design standards. In addition, the City has a goal to simplify the district’s affordability standards while allowing for the adaptive reuse of former industrial and commercial buildings throughout the city, not just in the overlay district… . Kingston 2025 identifies the Stockade Business District (SBD) as the “Uptown Mixed-Use Core” neighborhood and specifies goals and strategies specifically pertaining to this area. The vision for the SBD as articulated in Kingston 2025 is to be a center ‘for local life providing nutritious fresh food, necessary personal services, transportation and mass transit options, employment opportunities at a range of incomes, a diversity of housing options, and nearby public and private recreational facilities…’. Kingston 2025 outlines several strategies for residential development in the SBD, including allowing mixed- uses in the C-2 zoning district, and moving toward city-wide standards for adaptive reuse and affordable housing. Therefore, it is likely development guided by the Comprehensive Plan will include more housing opportunities in the SBD.”

If not now, when?

Why are only some of the goals of the City’s Zoning Code being followed? Over the past generation, public officials and members of the community have repeatedly identified a clear need to keep housing affordable in Kingston. It is why the MUOD was created. As has been stated earlier, our 2025 Comprehensive Plan also recognizes the need for affordability throughout the city, which is also in keeping with the Courts’ recognition of the requirement for inclusionary zoning. Now that we have an adopted plan that states this, it has the full force of law, as noted by the NY State Department of State in Zoning and the Comprehensive Plan: “New York’s zoning enabling statutes (the state statutes which give cities, towns and villages the power to enact local zoning laws) require that zoning laws be adopted in accordance with a comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan should provide the backbone for the local zoning law.”

It goes on to note that public spending at any level of government must be in accordance with that plan: “Once a comprehensive plan is adopted using the State zoning enabling statutes, all land use regulations of the community must be consistent with the comprehensive plan. In the future, the plan must be consulted prior to adoption or amendment of any land use regulation. In addition, other governmental agencies that are considering capital projects on lands covered by the adopted comprehensive plan must take the plan into consideration.

At what point will Kingston do more than aspire for 20% affordable housing in all new development projects, reuse or otherwise? With each passing year that we lack good planning, we lose precious time in balancing the new opportunities coming to Kingston and the pressing needs of our existing community.

Public Input with a Positive or Negative Declaration in SEQR

In this image taken from the SEQR Cookbook, the top line “POSITIVE DECLARATION” illustrates robust public input for a pos dec determination in SEQR with many steps and opportunities. The bottom line “NEGATIVE DECLARATION” illustrates a neg dec determination where the review process concludes and there is no further opportunity for the public to participate as it relates to environmental impacts.

By Rebecca Martin

A recent Kingston Times article reported a claim by a member of the Kingstonian development team: “Dennis Larios is a civil engineer with long experience in Kingston. He’s currently working with JM Development Group on the Kingstonian project. Earlier this month, in a Facebook post, Larios suggested that his clients would likely walk away from the project if the planning board issues a “positive declaration of environmental significance.”

A day later, the Daily Freeman reported that a second member of the Kingstonian development team suggested that a determination of significance (and likely a negative declaration) would not be made for a very long time, as they had not yet provided the lead agency with all of the necessary information.

Attorney Michael Moriello said in a statement, “It is beyond presumptuous for these opponents to attempt to subvert the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) review process by insisting upon a positive declaration of environmental significance before any potentially large impacts have had an opportunity to be identified and mitigated….Because we intend to follow all environmental review requirements and as we have not yet provided all of the necessary information and studies, we do not anticipate a determination of significance under SEQRA for (a) fairly lengthy period of time….we are confident that we will ultimately obtain a negative declaration of environmental significance so that the vast majority of city residents, visitors and business owners will ultimately benefit from the environmental review and the Kingstonian’s attendant economic, cultural and employment benefits.”

When SEQR begins, a series of specific actions are to take place starting with a 30-day window for the involved agencies to approve or deny the request for lead agency.  An involved agency may also “state their interests and concerns regarding selection of lead agency and potential impacts of the overall action” (SEQR handbook, page 66, item #5).  That’s exactly what the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission has done as a responsible involved agency along with three interested State agencies which submitted comments to the Kingston Planning Board within the 30-day window for lead agency selection or the 20-day window for determination of significance which I describe next.

On the heels of the 30-day window for lead agency selection, for any Type 1 Action (which the Kingstonian Project is), there is a 20-day window for lead agency to make a positive (pos) or negative (neg) declaration (dec).

Members of the applicant’s team state that they “… do not anticipate a determination of significance under SEQRA for (a) fairly lengthy period of time.”
This suggests that their application may have been filed prematurely.

Why is the SEQR process being handled in the way that it is?

According to the SEQR Cookbook, “The lead agency has 20 calendar days to make its determination of significance. If the lead agency finds that it does not have sufficient information to make this determination, it may request that the applicant provide it. The lead agency must make its determination within 20 days of receipt of all the information it reasonably needs. In determining significance, the lead agency must consider: the whole action and the criteria [see 617.7(c)]; the EAF and any other information provided by the applicant; involved agency input, where applicable; and public input, if any.

Is the applicant interpreting the part of SEQR regulations that reads, “…if the lead agency finds that it does not have sufficient information to make this determination, it may request that the applicant provide it,”  to mean to work directly with the lead agency (Kingston Planning Board) to provide studies that they request for however long is necessary in order to achieve a neg dec in SEQR? 

The inevitable result of this approach the applicant and lead agency could be taking in trying to avoid a pos dec will be to cut the public and involved agencies out of the process.  Given that fact alone, the approach should be avoided.

Is there public input following a neg dec determination in SEQR? *

To cut to the chase, the answer is no, at least not as it relates to environmental impacts.

Kingston Mayor Steve Noble and members of the project’s development team have been recorded in recent weeks stating that the Kingstonian Project is anticipated to be a neg dec in SEQR. In other words, they are confident that there will not be a single potential significant environmental impact. If the project is a neg dec, the opportunity for an inclusive and comprehensive public process as it relates to environmental impacts is over and the project advances to routine permitting decisions. Public funds, which cannot be released until a neg dec is issued, are now available for use.  

Additionally, the Kingstonian Project as a Type 1 Action requires a coordinated review process. “A coordinated review is the process by which all involved agencies cooperate in one integrated environmental review. Coordinated review has two major elements: establishing a lead agency and making a determination of significance and in scoping an environmental impact statement.” (Ten agencies have been identified as “involved” in this review, including the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission and Kingston Common Council).

If a neg dec determination is made by the lead agency, then the discretionary reviews of the involved agencies will be bound by this decision. The law stipulates that following a coordinated review, a lead agency’s determination of significance is a binding one; no other involved agency may require an EAF or an EIS for an environmental impact as defined by SEQR.

This is significant, particularly when the timeline for input from the involved agencies is not clear. Right now, involved agencies of the Kingstonian Project have only until the public comment period closes (it was opened on April 10 and oddly, a deadline has not yet been set) to weigh in on the potential significant environmental impacts while the Planning Board as lead agency prepares to make its determination of significance (with a pos or neg dec).

Is there public input following a pos dec determination in SEQR?

Yes, a pos dec determination will allow for an inclusive and comprehensive public review process.

Currently, a record has been established with comments on potential significant environmental impacts, particularly those that pertain to historic preservation and community character. Only one potential significant environmental impact needs to be identified to trigger a pos dec.

In the event of a pos dec, the applicant would be required to create a draft environmental impact statement (draft EIS). Public scoping is automatic. It is an inclusive process to identify issues that should be studied in the EIS, including potential significant adverse environmental impacts of a proposed project and alternatives that could avoid or minimize these impacts. “As a result, the draft EIS is concise, accurate and focused on the significant issues…The draft EIS is a primary source of environmental information related to a proposed action (the Kingstonian Project.) The EIS also serves as a means for public review and comment on the potential impacts of the action. After a draft EIS is submitted by the sponsor, the lead agency must determine if it is complete and adequate for public review. Once the draft EIS is deemed complete, a minimum of 30 days is required for public review and comment. A final EIS should be prepared within 45 days of any hearings or 60 days after filing the draft EIS. The final EIS must include: the draft EIS and any revisions/supplements; a summary of substantive comments received; and the lead agency’s responses to the comments. Draft and Final EIS’s must be published on a publicly available website.”

We hope that many of you will come to our public educational forum on May 21st from 5:30pm – 7:30pm where we will present “SEQR: 101” to explore and to learn all about the SEQR process and answer questions.  Jennifer O’Donnell, a City of Kingston resident, urban planner and local government specialist at the Department of State will be our guest panelist. The event will be held at the Kingston Public Library, is free and will be filmed by The Kingston News for those who can’t make it.  Brought to you KingstonCitizen.org and co-sponsored by the Kingston Tenants Union. 

 

(*) An amendment to the post was made on 4/26

Mayor Steve Noble’s State of the City Address 2019

(This video brought to you by The Kingston News)

Good evening everyone and thank you for coming tonight. I want to thank President Noble and my colleagues of the Common Council for giving me the opportunity to share the State of the City. I also want to recognize our elected officials with us tonight. 

In addition, I want to acknowledge the members of our local media reporting here tonight. You have always had a tough job, but now, more than ever, we need journalists. 

About Growth 

Our city is growing. And growth can sound scary sometimes. It might seem easier to remain still, to keep things the way they’ve always been. It may feel more comfortable to ignore new ideas and to be surrounded by people who look and think alike. But that’s how cities crumble. We have far too much at stake to be lulled into complacency. Not when we’ve come this far. I believe wholeheartedly that we can continue to move forward while still holding on to all that makes Kingston special. Our city has strong roots- we were made to grow. 

Smart growth is possible, especially in a city as capable and committed as Kingston. We have a diverse, creative and engaged community, eager to build a successful city where everyone can prosper. We’re building new sidewalks, fixing underground utilities, improving our public transportation, creating socially responsible and progressive policies, preserving our historic assets, protecting our natural resources, and making the city’s largest investment into quality housing in decades. 

There is no doubt- the state of our city is strong. 

Read more…

VIDEO: City of Kingston and UCRRA Board and Staff Discuss Transition Strategy for Recyclables.

Today, Mayor Steve Noble and DPW Superintendent Ed Norman met with the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) requesting a short-term extension from single-stream recycling to dual stream recycling through June 30, 2019.   It appears some headway was made – and we appreciate everyone’s efforts.

You can review the full discussion below thanks to The Kingston News and brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.

VIEW:  “Kingston Residents Can Mix Recyclables Beyond Jan. 1, 2019” in the Daily Freeman

 

VIDEO: Kingstonian Proposal Informational Meeting at the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The Kingstonian proposal will appear on the Kingston Planning Board Agenda on December 17th at 6:00pm.

 

By Rebecca Martin

In what was a ‘coordinated review’ of sorts, project spokesman Joseph Bonura and members of JM Development Group LLC gave an informational meeting at the City of Kingston’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission (HLPC). It’s smart, because by meeting with our HLPC early – they will benefit by getting feedback on the proposal before their review process begins. This not only saves time in the long run, but it puts their best foot forward by starting off with a more realistic project in one of our historic districts. Already the project has improved by doing so – and we would expect that it will continue to go in the right direction with the input and guidance of our historic professionals.

The Kingstonian project will be on the agenda of the next Planning Board meeting on Monday, December 17th (new business) Items #11 and #12.  AGENDA

Video from last evening was made by The Kingston News, brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org.

 

City of Kingston Requests Additional Outreach for Citizen’s Potentially at Risk in EJ Area For Proposed Power Plant Project

By Rebecca Martin

Last evening, the Kingston Common Council unanimously passed Resolution No. 227 “Requesting an (Enhanced) Public Participation Plan for Lincoln Park LLC (also known as GlidePath and/or the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center) as per the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Policy (CP) 29.” This relates directly to a fossil fuel peak energy power plant being proposed in the Town of Ulster, where only 1.3 miles away (and downwind) is Kingston’s Rondout that includes an environmental justice area identified by the DEC.

What’s this all about and why is it significant?

For the last 12 months, KingstonCitizens.org – along with our environmental and citizen partners – have been following the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process for the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center, a 20 MW natural gas fired generation plant with diesel backup and battery storage project being proposed in the Town of Ulster, NY.

VIEW “Toolkit and Video: Residents of Ulster County and “G” Zone Counties: Temporary Moratorium on Fossil Fuel Power Plants to Address Zoning. 

During the public scoping process, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in its “Comments on Draft Scope” (March 20th, 2018) for the proposed “power plant” under Air Resources stated that, “Air Permit Applications are subject to the Department’s Environmental Justice Policy (CP-29).”

The intent of the Commissioner’s Policy (CP) requires the applicant to incorporate environmental justice into the permitting process and prepare a Public Participation Plan.

Kingston’s Environmental Justice area that was identified as being potentially impacted (in Rondout, Kingston, only 1.3 miles South of the proposed project location) would be provided with sufficient time, tools, and the opportunity to clearly voice, and have their comments be considered.

On July 23rd, 2018, Mayor Steve Noble wrote a letter to Kelly Turturro (DEC Region 3) as a follow-up, asking that the DEC “…send a written notice to the applicant requesting that it immediately commence compliance with the requirements of the Department’s Environmental Justice Policy, as specific in the Department’s March 20, 2018 Comments on Draft Scope.”

Process Steps:  Passing Resolution No. 227.

As we awaited an update from the DEC and GlidePath on this matter, on October 29, 2018 KingstonCitizens.org asked that the Kingston Common Council amplify the Mayor’s request and also ask that the DEC direct the applicant to prepare and submit an enhanced Participation Plan for review and approval, so that it can be implemented before the public comment on the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) is opened – which we are expecting to be delivered at any time.

VIEW: Page 1 of request
VIEW: Page 2 of request

The process steps included getting the item on the Public Safety Committee agenda for November for discussion. The resolution language was looked over by Kingston’s Corporation Council, and sent out of committee to caucus where it went to the floor to be voted on last night – and passed unanimously.

It was a great night for this item to be on the agenda, too, as we also got to witness the Municipal ID program as well as the Mayor’s 2019 Municipal budget all pass unanimously.  We’d like to thank our elected and appointed officials and staff alike for their thoughtful leadership and hard work.

Part One
18:20 – 21:40
Rebecca Martin, KingstonCitizens.org

Click on image for individual testimony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

37:15 – 38:40
Sue Rosenberg, CAPP-NY

48:55 – 51:33
Iris Marie Bloom, CAPP-NY


Part Two
Local Law of 2018 Municipal ID Program passes unanimously

Part Three

Resolution #220 to approve the city’s general fund budget for the fiscal year 2019, as Amended.

8:58 – 11:30
Ward 2 Alderman Doug Koop (Chair of Finance Committee)

11:34 – 14:06
Ward 3 Alderman Rennie Scott Childress (Majority Leader)

14:08 – 15:01
Ward 9 Alderwoman Andrea Shaut

15:02 – 17:19
Ward 5 Alderman Bill Carey

17:24 – 18:08
Ward 7 Alderman Patrick O’Reilly

Resolution is adopted 9/0

Resolution #227 requesting public participation for lincoln park llc per dec policy 29 

23:57 – 27:13
Ward 6 Alderman Tony Davis

Resolution is adopted 9/0

GUEST EDITORIAL: A Landmark Day for Landmarks

By Marissa Marvelli

October 17 was a great day for historic preservation in Kingston for three reasons:

1) Mayor Noble, in presenting his proposed budget for 2019, announced that he is creating a permanent part-time preservation administrator position in the Planning Department. Members of the community have been advocating for such a position for years. If the Common Council approves the Mayor’s budget, The City of Kingston will soon have a knowledgeable person on staff to answer questions about district boundaries, help applicants with projects needing commission approval, promote historic tax credit opportunities, advance municipal preservation goals, and more.   (Click on image to review Mayor Steve Noble’s 2019 Budget Announcement starting at 15:50 – 16:36)

2) Following the Mayor’s budget presentation, the Common Council’s Laws & Rules Committee convened for its monthly meeting. Chair Bill Carey announced that the committee is no longer considering the Corporation Counsel’s draft legislation to merge the Heritage Area and Historic Landmarks Preservation Commissions (HLPC). Instead, other solutions are being studied to improve the efficiency of the two commissions, such as eliminating overlapping application reviews.  

Read more…

Fabian Marshall and the Kingston Police Commission.

 

CITIZEN CALL TO ACTION

  1. Request that the City of Kingston condemn police brutality in the City of Kingston.
  2. Request that the City of Kingston Police Department:
    • Provide a summary of changes that have been made to the City of Kingston Police policies and procedures since the Fabian Marshall incident in 2015;
    • Provide an action plan for continued improvements to the Department’s policies and procedure;
    • Provide an overview of trainings completed by Department personnel on an annual basis, as well as a  comprehensive description of the Department’s sensitivity training.
  3. As per Citizen Action of the Hudson Valley’s Petition  VIEW
    • Stop data by race and ethnicity, and use of force data including pepper spray and taser use;
    • Inform the public on the complaint process, including a detailed overview of the process beginning with the submission of a complaint form and through the Police Commission review, ruling, and if applicable, appeal;
    • Provide information on selection guidelines and term limits of Kingston Police Commission;
    • Release of information on the number of investigations into complaints against members of the department concerning domestic violence, excessive force, coercion, and verbal abuse, and the results;
    • Release of an immediate process to begin creating a community policing model that includes non-appointed members of the community as a civilian oversight board which would;
      • Conduct investigations into all cases in which a department member discharges his or her firearm, stun gun, or taser in a manner which potentially could strike an individual, even if no allegation of misconduct is made;
      • Systematically review reports and footage to conduct investigations into complaints against members of the department concerning domestic violence, excessive force, coercion, and verbal abuse, even if no allegation of misconduct is made;
      • To investigate the the conduct of members of the Department concerning any investigative category, (excessive force, sexual misconduct, a false arrest, or illegal search or seizure, and/or committed another civil rights violation or tort.) even in the absence of a civilian complaint, when, based on information and belief.

 

 

Tomorrow, the Kingston Police Commission will assemble for their monthly meeting to be held at 4:00 pm at Kingston City Hall at 420 Broadway in Kingston, council chambers (top floor). We are told that there will be a sign-up for citizens to speak at the beginning of the meeting, so please plan to arrive at 3:45 to do so and to secure a seat.  

As part of the agenda, the Police Commission will be reviewing a complaint filed by City of Kingston resident Fabian Marshall for discussion of an incident that occurred in 2015. 

According to the Daily Freeman VIEW, “Fabian Marshall, 27, was found guilty Friday of obstructing governmental administration, a misdemeanor, following a jury trial before City Judge Lawrence Ball. The trial began last Wednesday. The case against Marshall dates to September 2015, when members of the Kingston Police Department were responding to a report of an assault on Broadway, the District Attorney’s Office said in a press release. The release said officers tried to interview Marshall, who was in the same area of the reported assault and matched the description of the assailant, but that he refused to comply, became uncooperative and fought with police.”

The event was captured on a police cam and cellphone which was fortunately released for the public to review. (GRAPHIC)

“…officers tried to interview Marshall, who was in the same area of the reported assault and matched the description of the assailant, but that he refused to comply, became uncooperative and fought with police.”

Interviewed?

Being innocent of the alleged crime, Marshall seems uncertain as to why he was being approached by the police officer who acted in an aggressive manner without an explanation at the onset.

Uncooperative?

Marshall doesn’t appear to pose any danger to the officer carrying a gun and a taser.  In the video, it is alleged that he is tasered 21 times. One time, in this case, was too many.

STATE OF THE CITY 2017: Mayor Steve Noble Annual Address.

 

Mayor Steve Noble’s annual “State of the City” address. This video was brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org with thanks to Kingston News.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Steve Noble
State of the City Address
2017

“Good evening. I want to thank you all for joining us tonight for what I am confident will be another fine example of democracy in action. While I appreciate the opportunity to share with you what I believe are a number of significant accomplishments we have achieved together, tonight, just like any other night, is about the work. Following this annual message, the Common Council will resume its regular business, starting with an opportunity for public comment. It is this mechanism- this opportunity in which any individual can independently and respectfully express their support, opposition or general thoughts on city matters- that ensures your elected officials hear you. For those of you who showed up tonight to support a memorializing resolution I proposed reaffirming our great city as a welcoming and inclusive community- thank you. For those of you who showed up tonight to oppose this memorializing resolution- I want to thank you as well. If one of our greatest achievements will be to have created an environment in which the public is welcomed and engaged in the decision-making process of its local government, then I know we will have done right. While it is uncomfortable to hear opinions or views that are in such great conflict with our own, it is how we handle this conflict and how we treat those with whom we are in conflict that defines who we are as a community. I believe that tonight, just like any other night, Kingston will shine.

This year, some of our most challenging issues transcended the boundaries of our small city and reflected a greater divide of philosophy and values in our nation. Questions of gun control or immigration, both of which are long-standing, divisive topics that have yet to be resolved on the national level, entered into our daily conversations with our neighbors and friends. We eventually updated our City’s firearms law and are now considering a memorializing resolution to reaffirm the City of Kingston as a welcoming and inclusive community for all, including immigrants- something that has never been done before in our community. These have not been easy topics to broach and deliberate. Even our discussions around parking fees, an issue that most cities must grapple with, have delved into important questions of fairness and equity.

However, the fact that our community members hold such conflicting and opposing values from each other reminds me that Kingston is indeed a diverse community. It is my responsibility as your Mayor to ensure that each of you, regardless of our differences, is heard.

As we reflect upon our successes and challenges of 2016, I am more confident than ever before that we are moving forward. As you will see from the annual report that will be posted on our website this week, our departments are providing an incredible variety of essential public services.

A glimpse into our successes

Read more…

FAQ Sheet: The City of Kingston as a “Welcoming and Inclusive City”.

Here are key facts to clarify much of the misinformation on the matter of Kingston’s proposed memorializing resolution on being “welcoming and inclusive”. We hope it is helpful to citizens of Kingston as they prepare their testimony on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.  Please arrive at Kingston City Hall (420 Broadway, Kingston – council chambers) at 6:45pm to sign-up to speak and to get a seat. The Mayor’s ‘state of the city’ address will begin at 7:00pm, and the Common Council will have their January council meeting following at approximately 7:30pm.  Public comment will take place at that time.

 

VIEW
Initial letter from 21 City of Kingston faith groups requesting Kingston declare itself a ‘sanctuary city’.

VIEW
Memoralizing Resolution
“Kingston as a Welcoming and Inclusive City”.

IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON DECLARING ITSELF A “SANCTUARY CITY”?
No.  In the memorializing resolution, although the “whereas” states that “these practices are generally considered to be ‘sanctuary city’ principles”, the proposed action of the City of Kingston is simply to reaffirm that it has always been and will always be that of “a welcoming and inclusive city”.

VIEW: Mayor Steve Noble’s reasoning why the memorializing resolution is not titled a ‘sanctuary city’.  (Begins at 23:56 – 25:28)

WHAT IS A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION
?
A memoralizing resolution does not set forth policy or law. Instead, it creates text to cause people to remember. It is a tool to both educate and in this case, to remind us of our principles and values.

WHY IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON PROPOSING A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION THAT “REAFFIRMS KINGSTON AS A WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE CITY”?
In November of 2016, Kingston’s Mayor Steve Noble received a letter from 21 members of the local faith community requesting that Kingston declare itself a ‘Sanctuary City”.  In response and following process, the mayor issued a communication to Alderman-at-Large James Noble requesting that their concerns be referred to the appropriate council committee for discussion. The matter was assigned to the Kingston Common Council’s Laws and Rules Committee. After  much research and collaboration, extensive questioning of both Mayor Noble and Police Chief Egidio Tinti, debate and public comment, a memoralizing resolution was drafted based on models adopted by municipalities from across the nation, reaffirming Kingston as a “welcoming and inclusive city”.  The memorializing resolution passed positively out of the Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee for a full council vote on January 10th.

VIEW:  Mayor Steve Noble explains the context of the memorializing resolution (begins at 1:10 – 7:54).

IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON VIOLATING ANY LAWS BY PASSING A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION THAT “REAFFIRMS KINGSTON AS A WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE CITY”?
No.  The City of Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti reviewed the memoralizing resolution and found no conflicts with existing practices and procedures of the Kingston Police Department.   Immigration is federal law, not local law. Kingston, and all US municipalities, is barred from making laws relating to immigration.

IS THE CITY OF KINGSTON AT RISK OF LOSING FEDERAL FUNDING BY PASSING A MEMORALIZING RESOLUTION THAT “REAFFIRMS KINGSTON AS A WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE CITY”?
No. The current memoralizing resolution does not change any existing laws, rules or practices of the City of Kingston or the Kingston Police Department and is consistent with the principles of the NYS and US Constitution.

READ: “Trump Can’t Force “sancutary cities” to enforce his deportation plans.” in the Washington Post. 

Public Educational Forum “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know” on January 28, 2017

Jon Bowermaster will be in attendance to speak and to show his film “A Pipeline Runs Through It’ to be presented at the beginning of the event.

By Rebecca Martin

KingstonCitizens.org to host a public educational forum and discussion called “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know and How Local Action Makes Global Impacts” on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at Kingston City Hall Council Chambers located at 420 Broadway, in Kingston NY from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.  Guest panelists include Jeremy Cherson of Riverkeeper, Sue Rosenberg of Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline/CAPP-NY, Jen Metzger of Citizens For Local Power and a Rosendale Town Councilwoman and Andy Bicking of Scenic Hudson. The short film “Hudson River at Risk 6: A Pipeline Runs Through It” will be presented by Writer, filmmaker and adventurer and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council Jon Bowermaster.

The event is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Co-sponsored by Riverkeeper, Citizens for Local Power, Scenic Hudson, CAPP-NY, the Local Economies Project and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Kingston Land Trust, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Woodstock Land Conservancy, Earth Guardians NY, Citizen Action NY and Sustainable Hudson Valley. With support from the City of Kingston, the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council, Town of Rosendale, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Ulster County Legislature and 103rd District Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.

 

VIEW Event on Facebook for up-to-date information on this important local event.

 

Kingston, NY – Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC has proposed to construct two parallel pipelines that would run along the NYS Thruway and through private property—one pipeline carrying Bakken crude oil south from Albany, NY, to a refinery in Linden, NJ, and the other carrying refined products north. The 170+ miles of pipelines, together with nearly 13 miles of lateral pipelines, would impact 31 communities in Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland counties, as well as 30+ communities in New Jersey. The carrying capacity of each pipeline would be 200,000 barrels (or 8.4 million gallons) per day, which would more than double the number of trains carrying volatile Bakken crude to the Port of Albany at the peak of Bakken crude production in 2014.  The increase in crude-by-rail volume means that the project will also impact many communities north and west of Albany through which the CSX and Canadian Pacific rail lines run.

Read more…

Council Votes Tonight. Support the City of Kingston 2017 Municipal Budget.

By Rebecca Martin
The 2017 City of Kingston Budget passes unanimously out of Finance Committee on 11/28. Those in favor include Doug Koop, Rennie Scott-Childress, Tony Davis, Steven Schabot and Deborah Brown.
The 2017 City of Kingston Budget passes unanimously out of Finance Committee on 11/28. Those in favor include Doug Koop, Rennie Scott-Childress, Tony Davis, Steven Schabot and Deborah Brown.

This year, we have witnessed many unprecedented, positive changes in the city of Kingston. One of which was a whole new way of engaging the community with a budget forum held at Kingston City Hall in August as well as an online survey where citizens had the opportunity to voice in on the Mayor’s 2017 municipal budget.

Soon after, the finance committee met on a weekly basis for about six weeks to interview department heads who unveiled their department’s needs.  To be thorough, Kingston Mayor Noble also requested a special committee meeting to discuss special events, fees and to respond to any other concerns raised about the budget. I can’t recall a time when I have seen such transparent and collaborative efforts made between all elected and appointed officials in the City of Kingston.

After hours upon hours of research and discussion, the finance passed the city’s 2017 budget out of committee and on to last evening’s council caucus (12/5). Its fate is now in the hands of our entire common council who will vote to pass the budget or not this evening (12/6).

Some say that the 2017 COK budget is the first in decades where a balanced budget has been achieved that also includes a tax cut.  It’s a forward thinking document; one that places the COK on solid footing for the future.

The highlights include a tax levy of $17,650,940, which is a $0 increase from 2016. What’s really exciting is that it slowly addresses the long-standing issue of the homestead / non-homestead, decreasing the homestead tax rate from $10.16 per thousand to $10.10 per thousand and the non-homestead tax rate from $18.31 per thousand to $18.13 per thousand.  Items such as raises were determined through a multi-member committee. It was a long and well-vetted analysis, using comparable salaries from similar communities. The result moves toward fair pay for all (for both male and female employees alike) and gives Kingston a competitive edge when openings become available in attracting the best and the brightest.

The city will continue to provide extensive services at a cost effective rate, too. You’d be hard pressed to find a private hauler for the price that most are paying through the City of Kingston’s Department of Public Works. We know how important that is to Kingstonians.

BRINGING SOME CLARITY AND UNDERSTANDING TO POTENTIAL DEBATE THIS EVENING. 

With ample time for discussion throughout the estimated three-month process, we still expect several items to come to the floor this evening for debate. Below, we’ve tried to pull together a little background to help citizens follow along.

Hiring a part-time clerk for Kingston’s Common Council.

A part time common council clerk position was implemented to assist the council in their administrative needs. This would include creating timely agendas, minutes and even audio recordings of all caucus and council meetings.  It’s the sort of thing that we have been advocating for since we began this work in 2006. It’s an exciting prospect for all citizens. 

1) In the City of Kingston’s charter, the city clerk (who is appointed by the mayor) manages all “records, documents and other papers for the city”.  Their role also includes being the council’s clerk without any detail outside of going to monthly council meetings.  In other words, a single position is to maintain the needs of both the executive and legislative branches of government, the latter to a degree.

2) Some believe that it makes sense for our common council (legislative branch) to have its own PT clerk that can work independently of our city clerk (executive branch).  It may avoid any potential conflicts as to how much time is applied where given that the city clerk position is appointed by Kingston’s Mayor.

What are some of the concerns? 

As we understand it, Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills wants the council to move the $16,000 allotted amount towards an asset management ‘manager’ position.

1) To date, the City of Kingston is awaiting recommendations from Barton and Loguidice, LLC, the consultant hired to provide the city with an asset management gap assessment several years ago. In 2015, recommendations in three phases were made to move Kingston toward adopting a citywide asset management software system. Long term maintenance and sustainability may be part of phase three, which could give the city a better understanding of the role an asset management ‘manager’ could play, including their qualifications and pay.  Some say that without this critical information, making any determinations on what and how to fund this position is premature.

2) There are also other key variables that would come into play, such as a grant that was written to cover a fleet manager position and that would manage all vehicles in the city. Kingston should learn if they have secured this grant soon and if so, the position might reduce the responsibilities of a future asset manager.

Making Kingston’s Corporation Council a full-time position. 

Historically, Kingston’s Corporation Council has been a part-time position, allowing those appointments to work for the City of Kingston while also maintaining a private practice. Although at a glance, none of which is reflected in Kingston’s charter.

1) Kingston’s Corporation Council is another appointment made by the mayor, serving at his/her pleasure. In the charter, it states that: “The Corporation Counsel shall be the primary legal advisor to the Mayor, Common Council and of all commissions, departments and other offices of the city. The Corporation Counsel shall conduct, supervise or monitor, as required, the prosecution and defense of all actions or proceedings brought by or against the city or by or against any of its officers in their official capacity and appeal from all such orders, decisions and judgments as he or she deems advisable.”

That’s a pretty large list of responsibilities for part-time council. As a side note, and if their position is indeed 20 hours, what happens when/if they have not choice but to go over their allotment of time?

2) Some believe that it isn’t realistic or fair to expect corporation council’s full attention to city matters when they are also being pulled by a necessary private practice.  Others suggest that in addition, maintaining both private and public work in tandem could open up the possibility of conflicts of interest (especially in a small city such as Kingston).

We support the 2017 City of Kingston Municipal Budget. 

We appreciate the mayor, common council, all Kingston city departments and citizens for their hard work since the summer to craft such an exemplary budget for Kingston. Their efforts deserve our wholehearted support.  We encourage citizens to sign-up to speak tonight at Kingston City Hall (420 Broadway, Council Chambers at 7:30 pm) in favor of passing the 2017 City of Kingston municipal budget through council. In doing so, we are placing our best foot forward as we go into the new year.

VIDEO: Mayoral Candidate Debate 10/22/15

KingstonCitizens.org is pleased to bring you video from last evening’s Mayoral Candidate debate (10/22/15). Special thanks to Kingston News for helping us to make it possible.

Please mark your calendars and VOTE on Tuesday, November 3rd. The polls are open from 6:00am – 9:00pm. To locate your polling place, please visit the BOE POLLING PLACE site for more information.

Don’t forget that the Water Sales/Supply Referendum will appear on the BACK OF THE BALLOT!  Please consider a YES vote and give Kingston citizens the opportunity have a voice in any future water sales outside of our community.

Thanks.

Read more…

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Why Does Passing The Water Referendum on November 3rd Matter?

Referendum

By Rebecca Martin

As part of our ongoing effort to educate citizens on the upcoming Water Referendum that will appear on the November 3rd  ballot,  we are happy to present this piece, “In their own words” to share insight from residents who live and work inside and out of the City of Kingston.

Our lives are intimately impacted by the decisions made by our elected and appointed officials on all fronts.  In this case, regarding water, by voting ‘YES’ to include the Common Council on all sales of water outside Kingston’s corporate limits, we have a real opportunity to assure better decisions to be made.

Please take note. The Water Sales Referendum will be on the BACK OF THE BALLOT on November 3rd.

Read more…

VIDEO: Kingston Mayoral Debate

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We are pleased to provide the Mayoral Debate in its entirety from tonight (8/24/15) organized by Temple Emanuel and moderated by the League of Women Voters.

Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Thanks to Clark Richters of Kingston News for filming tonight’s event.

 

 

PART ONE

00:00 – 5:00  Ground Rules
5:18 –  8:26   Steve Noble, Opening remarks
8:37 – 11:59   Shayne Gallo, Opening Remarks

#1 – What is the most pressing issue for the City of Kingston?
12:17 – 13:39    Shayne Gallo
13:42 – 15:30   Steve Noble

#2 What are you proposing for job growth in the City of Kingston?
15:50 – 17:42    Steve Noble
17:50 – 20:29   Shayne Gallo

#3 Do you believe the City Mayor should have more input or oversight into the Kingston school district and their budgets and board of education?
20:52 – 21:55    Shayne Gallo
21:57 – 23:50    Steve Noble

#4  As Mayor, what will you do to resolve the ex-fire chief litigation without raising taxes?
24:08 – 25:27  Steve Noble
25:28 – 27:35  Shayne Gallo

#5 What is your position on drug policing in Midtown, do you think URGENT has been excessive and bad for community or important for bringing safety to the community?
27:56 – 29:53  Shayne Gallo
29:59 – 32:15  Steve Noble

#6 Do you have any plans or proposals to improve the complaint process, and would you support or work towards some form of civilian oversight of the city police?
32:40 -34:42  Steve Noble
34:45 – 37:01  Shayne Gallo

#7  Do you support initiatives such as the Rail Trail, ‘Building a Better Broadway’ and the Riverport?
37:15 – 38:40  Shayne Gallo
38:47 – 40:55  Steve Noble
41:00 – 41: 28  Shayne Gallo rebuttal

#8 How important do you think the traffic flow problem in Uptown Kingston is and what will you do to move it forward?
41:45 – 43:46  Steve Noble
43:54 – 45:55  Shayne Gallo

#9 Do either of you have concerns about nepotism in City Government?
46:27 – 48:05  Shayne Gallo
48:07 – 50:04  Steve Noble

#10 Explain the logic behind the sale of the fireman’s museum, and can you explain what happened with the fishing pier project and how can this be avoided in the future?
50:39 – 52:42  Steve Noble
52:46 – 55:06  Shayne Noble

#11 Considering the issues highlighted by Black Lives Matter, how would you move Kingston towards a police force that exemplifies excellent community policing?
55:27 – 56:50  Shayne Gallo
56:51 – 59:03  Steve Noble

 

PART TWO

#12 There are numerous questions about community. How will each of you include the minority community in your administration and what could the city do to communicate with the residents?
00:40 – 2:35  Steve Noble
2:40 – 4:11     Shayne Gallo

#13  Do you have a plan to improve the housing stock for the poor without forcing them to sell?
4:20 – 5:55  Shayne Gallo
5:56 – 8:07  Steve Noble

#14 What is your position on the upcoming water referendum and the appointment of new water board members?
8:25 – 10:09  Steve Noble
10:15 – 11:30  Shayne Gallo

#15 If you think in terms of the two most important initiatives for the mayor, what would you be most concerned about continuing if you were elected, what would you be most excited about promoting if you were elected mayor?
12:31 – 14:00  Shayne Gallo
14:02 – 16:28  Steve Noble

Closing Statements
16:50 – 21:49  Shayne Gallo
21:50 – 27:07  Steve Noble