A State Supreme Court ruling will put Rupco’s proposal to build 66 units of affordable senior housing at the site of the former Kingston Alms House back before the city’s planning board. The decision by judge Richard Mott comes six months after the board voted to deny site-plan approval for the proposed Landmark Place, citing density, zoning, environmental and infrastructure issues.
Landmark Place would create 66 studio and one-bedroom apartments for low-income adults over the age of 55. The development would be located at the site of the former Kingston Alms House at 300 Flatbush Avenue.
Some 32 units would be located in the former Alms House itself. Another 34 would occupy a newly constructed building on the 15-acre site. A portion of the apartments would be set aside for vulnerable populations, including the formerly homeless, those with substance abuse and other behavioral health issues, disabled veterans and the frail elderly.
The project proposes on-site support services including nursing staff to provide the support needed for residents to live independently. Rupco CEO Kevin O’Connor has said that the project would provide badly needed permanent supportive housing to a population that currently lives in crowded and unsanitary boarding houses, homeless shelters or on the street.
In August 2017, the city planning board, after a 15-month review, denied Rupco’s site-plan application without explanation. In a follow-up vote the next month, members of the board opposed to approval cited issues like density, potential impacts of the sewer system, and lack of pedestrian accessibility.
In a lawsuit filed shortly after the denial, Rupco argued that the board was influenced by neighborhood opposition to the project based on the populations that it would serve. During a series of public hearings, many neighbors raised objections that the prospective residents would pose a danger to the neighborhood and contribute an excessive concentration of low-income housing both in the neighborhood and in the City of Kingston in general.
Those objections, attorneys for the housing non-profit argued, were banned from consideration under state and federal fair housing statutes which prohibit discrimination based on race, age disability and other factors. Other objections raised by board members, wrote Mott, were not supported by evidence.
In his decision this week, Mott ruled that the planning board’s denial of the site plan was “arbitrary and capricious.” He wrote that the reasons given by members contradicted the board’s previous finding that the project did not have a significant environmental impact requiring more extensive review. Mott’s decision did not grant Rupco’s attorneys’ request to declare the site plan approved. Instead, the ruling overturns nullifies the denial and returns the issue to the planning board for consideration.
“The matter is remitted to the board for further proceedings consistent herewith,” Mott wrote, “including further inquiry and/or the imposition of any reasonable conditions and restrictions, pursuant to the city’s zoning laws.”