On May 23, 2016, the City of Kingston’s Planning Board held a special meeting on the Hutton Brickyards’ project, Smorgasburg. On page 4 of the minutes from that meeting: “W. Platte asked if there are any plans to have special events on the site when the market isn’t in operation. K. McManus said that there is a possibility for other events but that nothing is set yet. Staff advised that if an event is planned, they will need to contact the Planning Office to coordinate for traffic, noise, public safety, etc.”
The Hutton Brickyards permit was for six months for a multi-use market, and was renewed in November 2016 for one year. Under item 6 of the minutes from that November meeting: “K. McManus also stated that there are no changes currently proposed for the special permit but that the applicants are looking to consider private events at the site next year. They are aware that any changes in use will need to return to the Planning Board.”
These conversations indicate that events and private event rentals would be considered a change in use and would require additional permissions from [the] planning [board]. The interpretation by the assistant corporation counsel that every conceivable use need not be outlined in the original permit is in direct contrast to this.
Our group, Grow the R-T Responsibly, is for responsible development, and this concerns us on behalf of the people who live near the Hutton Brickyards. The conversation at planning board meetings was always that events were in the realm of possibility, but would need to come back before the board if it did become a reality in the future.
If you look at the zoning map for the City of Kingston, you’ll notice that the Hutton Brickyards is surrounded by RRR and R1 — single family residences — except for one unit, which is R2, a double family unit. As it states in both the current zoning codes and the comprehensive plan zoning draft, the planning department and planning board of the City of Kingston is charged with “consideration of the public health, safety, and welfare; the comfort and convenience of the public in general, or the residents or users of the proposed development and of the immediate neighborhood in particular … ” It doesn’t say that preference shall always be given to developers or that the department or board should encourage development at all costs: development for development’s sake.
Had the Hutton Brickyards been required to come back before Kingston’s planning board to further discuss plans for events, perhaps these families would have come forward with comments. We don’t know. There might have been a public hearing. But when assistant corporation counsel interpreted the city’s codes to simply extend the existing multi-use market permit to the Bob Dylan concerts, that opportunity for the neighboring homeowners was forever lost. The Hutton Brickyards now has a permit for events and could use that to host private events in the future, so now these families are living next to an event space, without ever having had the opportunity to weigh in on that.
Is this another situation where the city is bending the rules to accommodate favored development? And in this case, did it specifically disadvantage the residents, home owners, and small businesses of Ponckhockie?
I personally love the Smorgasburg Market. My family attended last summer and enjoyed what was offered. And as someone who grew up in Woodstock, I think bringing Bob Dylan back to the area is a wonderful thing for everyone.
The point is that even when we like a project and want it to succeed, the rules still need to apply. Because every time someone gets special treatment, someone else is being disenfranchised.