Members of the city’s planning board will have to explain why they rejected a proposal by Rupco to build 66 units of affordable senior housing at a site on Flatbush Avenue that once held the city’s alms house. The board will also have to hold a second vote to formally accept or reject Rupco’s site plan for the project.
The vote, slated for the board’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, comes one month after the board stunned Rupco officials and observers by voting 3-2 to reject Landmark Place’s site plan approval. The denial came after a lengthy review process in which Rupco officials altered designs and made other changes in response to the board’s feedback on the plan. Rupco bought the site from Ulster County for $950,000 in April and had hoped to begin construction later this year.
Board members Charles Polacco, Jamie Mills and Bridget Smith-Bruhn, who voted against site plan approval, did not explain their reasoning or offer Rupco guidelines on how to overcome any issues with the plan as presented. The Landmark Place proposal has faced opposition from some neighbors who have objected to its design or argued that the property would be put to better use as a commercial parcel. Others in the community have argued against the project by noting that some of the units would be set aside for the mentally ill and recently homeless. Those comments led Rupco attorneys and some members of city government to warn that rejection of the plan could put the city at risk of a lawsuit under federal fair housing law.
According to Kingston Assistant Corporation Counsel Dan Gartenstein, last month’s vote merely rejected the site plan approval resolution as written. The board will have to vote on a second resolution to deny further review of the plan. If the board votes again to reject the proposal, Rupco would have to begin the planning process from scratch. The housing nonprofit could also file an Article 78 lawsuit in state Supreme Court, arguing that the board’s denial of site plan approval was “arbitrary and capricious.”
On Wednesday, Mayor Steve Noble said that he had not spoken to members of the planning board about the issue and still had no idea why three members had voted against the site plan.