The Town of Kingston planning board is preparing for a 2020 on par with its tumultuous 2019, now that consultants for 850 Route 29 LLC, Thomas Auringer’s proposal to build a new 240,000-sq-ft manufacturing facility off Route 28 on property have filed a revision to their earlier application, which was sent back to them in late August.
The property on which the proposed project sits is surrounded by the Bluestone Wild Forest and associated conservation lands recently purchased by the Open Space Institute.
According to the first descriptive sections of the 592 page Environmental Assessment Form Addendum that Kingston Planning Board chair John Konior said his department received “just before the weekend” of December 7-8, the new documents were filed “with supporting documentation and responses to public comments” from a series of public hearings held between March 18 and July 15, 2019 on an original Site Plan application submitted to the Town of Kingston a year previous, on July 18, 2018.
While a Negative Declaration of Impact on an original EAF required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) law was issued on March 20 of this year, that “Neg Dec” was unanimously rescinded by the planning board due to “a procedural error in the prior rezoning” of the Auringer property that the EAF and application had been based on, according to the new papers.
Prepared and filed by Barry Medenbach of Medenbach & Eggers Civil Engineering and Land Surveying P.C. of Stone Ridge, the new paperwork starts off by purporting that the zone in which the Auringer property lies — while surrounded by state “Forever Wild” and dedicated park lands, and at one time zoned to restrict all but non-industrial uses — had a history of industrial uses.
The paperwork further delineates how the proposed manufacturing facility’s “approximately 60 employees” would work in three shifts (6 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 2p.m. to 10 p.m., and 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.), with actual production predominately in the first two shifts. Environmental degradation from past uses as a quarry are stressed; mitigation for possible effects to habitat proposed; and concerns regarding raised sound levels harming recreational uses of surrounding state lands and trails countered.
The entire document seeks to answer all questions raised at a series of public hearings that lasted into last summer to the point where one in July was called off because of crowd size and rescheduled for August 29 at the M. Clifford Miller Middle School in Lake Katrine, where the board announced its decision to rescind the previous Neg Dec, and zoning change, and await new submissions from the applicants. Some assertions brought up in public hearing and letters were countered, others mitigated.
Comprehensive look desired
“A holiday gift from our favorite 850 Route 28 applicant,” was how the Woodstock Land Conservancy, which helped lead the questioning of Kingston’s planning process last summer, put things in a mass e-mail last Friday, December 6.
“WLC and Catskill Mountainkeeper did hire a lawyer some weeks ago and sent a letter to the Kingston Planning Board and Town Board that we want a ‘Pos Dec’ (Positive Declaration of Impact) and full EIS (Environmental Impact Statement),” noted the land conservancy’s executive director, Maxanne Resnick, in an email this past weekend. “We haven’t received any response yet.”
“Following the Planning Board’s rescission of their Negative Declaration determination, SEQR requires a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) — for the benefit of everyone. It allows a comprehensive look at impacts and project alternatives — for Town of Kingston residents as well as all those who recreate at the surrounding NYS Bluestone Wild Forest, enjoying Onteora Lake, Pickerel Pond and the extensive trail system,” added Resnick in a statement on December 10.
Konior, speaking for the Kingston Planning Board that he chairs, said on December 9 that he, too, had yet to read the submitted materials, adding that the 850 Route 28 LLC application would not be on his board’s agenda for Monday, December 16.
“It would be best to check with our lawyer on all this,” he added, referring to Richard B. Golden of Burke, Miele, Golden & Naughton, LLP of Goshen, who the planning board hired after a huge crowd appeared at their June public hearing, and before Golden adjourned their July meeting for crowd size.
“Nothing has been arranged, but we are hoping to schedule a Planning Board meeting in January at the to begin to address the new submission by 850 Rte 28, LLC,” Golden noted this past week.
More as that date comes into view.