Letter: Kingstonian project must be subject to thorough review

A rendering of the Kingstonian, with North Front Street in the foreground.

The Kingstonian is a substantial and potentially transformative project for the City of Kingston. At this pivotal moment in our community’s history, with an affordable housing crisis, a $10 million grant from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), and heavy speculation from New York City developers, what happens with the Kingstonian will determine if this will be a positive transformation. It could be a statement about our city’s priorities and vision for the future, and a testament to a resilient, inclusive community where all residents’ input and needs are considered equally.

We assert that the project should receive a positive declaration of significance from Kingston’s Planning Board, pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) 617.7 (c) (1) (iv): “The creation of a material conflict with a community’s current plans or goals as officially approved or adopted.”

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The City of Kingston’s newly adopted Comprehensive Plan (Kingston 2025, page 21), 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.” An adopted plan has the full force of the law and is the collective vision of our community. The Kingstonian’s lack of affordable housing is a material conflict with that vision.

In 2006, the Three County Regional Housing Needs Assessment: Ulster, Orange and Dutchess Counties from 2006-2020 (RHNA) called for 1,005 new affordable apartments to be built by 2020. In the years since, only 55 units have been built. This project is an opportunity to create new affordable housing units to add to that total.

The project falls within Kingston’s zoning section 405-27.1 for the Mixed Use Overlay District, calling for 20 percent of the units in the district to be dedicated for affordable housing, with the rental of those units to be calculated as not to exceed 30% of a household’s income, with the maximum income at 80 percent for the Ulster County median income. This project does not follow the zoning guidelines for the MUOD.

Additionally, Kingston’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission (HLPC), an Involved Agency in SEQRA for the Kingstonian project, has gone on record stating that ” … the potentially large impacts on the Stockade Historic District and nearby landmark buildings … weigh toward a positive declaration of environmental significance.” In other words, the HLPC sees the potential for a significant adverse environmental impact, which is grounds for a positive declaration under SEQRA.

We urge the Planning Board to recognize these concerns and issue a positive declaration, and outline plans for a public scoping process. Such thoroughness will ensure that this project benefits the Kingston community to the greatest extent possible.

KingstonCitizens.org
Kingston Tenants Union
Kingston Midtown Rising
Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson
Rise Up Kingston
Citizen Action of New York Hudson Valley Chapter


Related:

Planners could decide scope of Kingstonian review June 3

There are 5 comments

  1. Alejandra Stanford

    Two facts:

    One: This developer does not have to build “affordable” housing as part of this mixed-use plan. There are
    more than 100 market-rate apartments proposed, along with a hotel, retail and office space. The demand by “progressives” that the plan be different is irrational, unreasonable, and frankly, ignorant.

    There are literally thousands of Kingston landlords who should be picking up that baton and THEY are who the issue of affordable housing rests with – so knock it off. Tying an “environmental review” to “affordable housing demands” is a bait and switch by radicalized groups who’d rather see unemployment exist and EMPTY land sit fallow producing no revenue, jobs, business our housing for Kingston. Again, bite off your nose in spite of your face. Ridiculous.

    Two: 90% of the proposed footprint CURRENTLY SITS EMPTY AS SURFACE PARKING LOTS. Generating ZERO for Kingston…the other 10% is a non-historic warehouse that replicated a previously burned down historic building. The existing warehouse was so drastically altered in the late 1940’s that it hold ZERO HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE.

    The objections to The Kingstonian are based on one simple, misguided premise – Classism and fake fear.
    Shame on these “progressives” as they represent NOTHING PROGRESSIVE IN THIS CASE.

    Approve The Kingstonian, Build The Kingstonian. There are literally hudnreds of your neighbors who are local business owners who employ hundreds more local residents who wil stand to benefit from this development, which will benefit all of Kingston.

    Any other argument is political BS. Stop!!! Enough!!!

  2. Grant Ryder

    $10 million grant should be annulled, withdrawn and obliterated. With that as a happenstance, there is no reason for the State and U.S. taxpayer to have to subsidize this and all grant-projects like it. Make this project work without a grant.

  3. Neal Grover

    (to the previous poster, (Alejandra Stanford) A request for an environmental quality review is neither classist nor fear-inducing. It is simply an attempt to get development that is well thought out and transparently reviewed for possible regrets in the future. “The environment” legally includes all quality of life factors for those citizens who are currently living without the project and, when built, will be living with it. It is State mandated good sense to provide the complete impact as best can be determined before granting the permit to develop. We of all classes and levels of comfort or anxiety deserve to have the tax budget administered according to the good of everyone. When tax breaks are given to developers it means that people like me are paying for the developer’s use of our infrastructure to get something up and running. If it is going to adversely affect the environment in which I currently live and in which I hope to thrive, I want to know abut it and have my representatives consider my most important needs over those of someone not yer “here” who wants me to finance part of their capital gains. It seems fair. When RUPCO wanted to take over and develop the derelict unused building now called “Alms House,” it sounded like a dream come true. When the citizens most in its proposed shadow raised concerns about the exact intended use and how it would play out, they were met with disrespect and called names. They were owed an explanation of how their worries were going to be addressed and their nightmares not brought about. They got finger-pointing shame and a quick override. Now it seems that several details were “swept under the rug.” For instance, the current sewer system has been recently discovered to be inadequate for the pre-development neighborhood. It is failing. No upgrades were proposed by the developer and none were required by the City government. Oops!

    I think we need lots of responsible economic development in Kingston. I think it is clear that if we do it without careful planning and review then we will reap some problems and regrets. I just don’t feel the reason behind the tome of your rebuttal. What is classist and fear-faking about legal responsible state mandated environmental quality review? Just because you declare something to be “BS” does not make it so. It just means you don’t like it and wish it would go away. If the progressives are pushing BS then their claims will not stand the scrutiny of the review. Progressives, like conservatives come in all shapes and shades. I believe it is best to sort out the flak by simply following procedures equitably and to the letter. There will be a significant impact. It will need to be established what the impact is and what is required to prevent it from being one that outweighs the benefits. A solution will be reached, things will be built, some regrets and injuries will be prevented.

    1. Steven L. Fornal

      Mr. Grover

      Finally, a person that gets the process. Your letter couldn’t be more correct. I would hope that you (and any like-minded people you may know) make yourself available to become a member of the Planning Board. Such understanding as you’ve displayed in this letter can only be of great consequence to the people of any community.

      You’ve restored my faith that there are people who “get it.” Thank you!

  4. Sixth Grade Student

    Chappeli, Hill, Hutchinson, Kiley, Neil, and Osami are the six names listed on the City of Kingston web site as the members of the City Planning Board.
    None of these names are listed in the City of Kingston 2019 tax rolls.
    Is this project in the City or the Town of Kingston; are these members renters owning no property to pay taxes on and therefore not listed in the tax rolls; has the web site not been updated; are these members out-of-city residents?

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