Cars were still pulling into the parking lot of the M. Clifford Miller Middle School in Lake Katrine, 15 minutes after the 7 p.m. starting time for the Town of Kingston planning board special meeting there on August 29, their occupants ready to be seen and heard as a decision was to be met whether or not to rescind an earlier Negative Declaration of Impact, a key piece of the State Environmental Quality Review law regarding the manufacturing project planned for Route 28 in the town. The proposal calls for the creation of two 120,000 square foot buildings for a precast concrete manufacturing operation on property surrounded by the state-owned Bluestone Wild Forest, Onteora Lake recreation area, and newer-purchased trailed lands currently owned by the Open Space Institute.
But the planning board announced its decision to rescind the Negative Declaration and closed its special meeting within five minutes of its start. At first the audience was stunned and silent. But then everyone stood, clapped, and hooted uproariously.
“Wheras the Planning Board of the Town of Kingston has received comments during a public hearing and otherwise on the 850 Route 28 LLC project pending before the Planning Board that raised new issues that ought to be addressed by the Planning Board; and whereas the Town Board of the Town of Kingston has proposed Introductory Local Law No. 1 to modify the Town’s Zoning Map to place the property located at 850 Route 28 in the Mixed-Use 1 District, resulting in the Town Board becoming a State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) Involved Agency relative to the Project under review by the Planning Board, which is acting as the SEQRA Lead Agency,” noted the resolution read without added commentary by John Konior, Kingston Planning Board chairman.
Konior went on to note that the Planning Board would continue as lead agency on the 850 Route 28 LLC project review as well as that of the new law’s proposed zoning map change, and that they’d be rescinding their previous declaration of no major impacts because the new information raised in public hearings “may have a significant adverse environmental impact.”
A decision to move the planning board meeting was made in July after a June public hearing on the 850 Route 28 LLC application drew a crowd beyond capacity for the Town of Kingston’s meeting hall, and a July reconvening of that hearing was cancelled before it started because of crowd size.
In addition to the regular planning board meeting’s move in time and place, a second reconvening of the public hearing for the application has yet to be scheduled.
As folks started to leave the auditorium in Lake Katrine the evening of August 29, some greeted those still entering the room with news of what happened, while others spoke about other, non-zoning-related concerns for the company seeking permits to build in Kingston.
“We appreciate Town of Kingston Planning Board taking to heart the substantial comments and new information put before them by Open Space Institute’s expert consultants and attorneys, environmental, community and recreation organizations and so many citizens, and rescinding their SEQRA Negative Declaration,” noted Woodstock Land Conservancy executive director Maxanne Resnick. “The 850 route 28 project can now receive the type of comprehensive environmental review of impacts appropriate for a project of this magnitude proposed on lands directly adjacent to Catskill Forest Preserve lands, waters, habitat and cherished public recreational resources…”
Timothy McColgan, counsel for Thomas Auringer, owner of 850 Route 28 LLC, said this week that he had no comment for the press regarding the Kingston Planning Board’s actions, other than to note that his client had only been denied a county Industrial Development Agency grant once.
“We’ll be making all our comments to the relative boards,” the New Paltz-based attorney added.