The Kingston Common Council is considering zoning changes designed to create more affordable housing in the city. The changes would amend a number of different sections to the city’s zoning code. It would adopt a new section titled “Affordable Housing,” which would allow the planning board to deny site plan approval for development if the applicant does not comply with a number of different requirements for affordable housing.
The requirements include:
- Ten-percent the units of any new development or renovation of an existing structure must be dedicated to affordable housing.
- The rent in those units must not exceed 30 percent of the renter’s household income.
- The maximum income for a household to occupy an affordable housing unit will be 80 percent of the Ulster County median income, which is adjusted for family size and is updated yearly.
- Affordable housing units must be spread throughout the development and should be indistinguishable from market-rate units in design, appearance, construction and quality of materials.
- Affordable housing units must be made available at the same time as market-rate units in developments with extended “build-out” periods.
The proposed legislation also states that units designated affordable must remain so as long as the building has residential units. Additionally, it encourages “mixed use, mixed income, pedestrian neighborhoods” in both existing and new commercial and industrial buildings.
Tenants who reside in these affordable housing units must provide documentation that shows their eligibility, including written verification of income.
“I urge the members of the Common Council to reconsider my proposal and support a city-wide form-based rezoning effort,” said Noble during his state of the city address on January 5. “Our current zoning code is needlessly complicated. Form-based zoning has been extremely effective in spurring economic development and smart growth while encouraging the creation of much-needed housing. The sooner we adopt this code, the faster we make new housing a reality.”
The proposed legislation has been discussed since May 2020.
On January 7 the Common Council held a public hearing for the legislation, during which no members of the public spoke. One part of the legislation, requiring ten percent of the units in new developments of five or more units be set aside for affordable housing, was the subject of an executive order by the mayor last month. Noble said at the time that because executive orders are only good for 30 days, though they can be renewed, he was issuing this one as a stop-gap while the council weighed a more lasting solution to the city’s affordable housing needs.
The proposed legislation will next go to the Laws & Rules committee on Wednesday, January 20. If the committee votes to move it forward, it would then go to the Common Council on Tuesday, February 2.