Tuesday, March 20, 2018

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Neighbors pack Kingston Planning Board hearing on Alms House

Large crowed for hearing on the Alms House proposal

KINGSTON – It was a full house at Kingston City Hall Monday night, and a family reunion of sorts, for the Planning Board meeting. Seven of the nine sitting City Council members were in attendance, along with three former aldermen.

Most attended to observe the public hearing for a special permit and site plan application by Rural Ulster Development Corporation (RUPCO), concerning the proposed Landmark Place / Alms House project at 300 Flatbush Avenue.

Over a dozen residents spoke out against the RUPCO application. Two city council members, arguied on their own behalf, including 7th Ward Alderman Patrick O’Reilly, representing the neighborhood where the project is to be located.

“This facility lacks the basic safety for 66 units of housing and the people who are going to have to live in that neighborhood have no safe place to walk down the street without threat if getting hit by a vehicle,” O’Reilly said. “Now these aren’t young people who can jump out of the way either. They are 55 and older and many of these people have some kind of condition.”

Alderman William Carey, former 7th Ward Alderwoman Mary Ann Mills, and former 9th Ward Alderwoman Deborah Brown, made statements against the RUPCO project.

Many of the remarks were off-point, not directly pertaining to the purpose of the hearing, or the purview of the planning board. Among these numerous statements were complaints about taxes, police, fire, and other city services that might be potentially affected by the project’s approval.

Concerns about the inclusion of mentally ill and elderly among the future tenants were repeatedly raised. Deborah Brown mentioned the existence of an old graveyard on the property. Mary Ann Mills spoke about sewer system issues. Carey said that he wanted more commercial property in the area, to increase the job base.

RUPCO President Kevin O’Connor and his staff sat quietly listening and taking notes. Their attorney Michael Moriello spoke last, objecting to many of the statements being made.

“My client and I object to any statement being made into the record that are SEQR related, being introduced at this point. SEQR is completed, it’s done, the time period for SEQR is over,” Moriello said.  “With respect to what is germane for comment tonight, has to do with site plan and special use issues. That does not include character of the neighborhood, socio-economic impacts, taxes, and services.”

“Zoning and land use issues deal with the use of land, not the people who own or occupy it,” Moriello maintained, citing court rulings.

The planning board voted to extend the public hearing period for this matter one more month, at the upcoming meeting on April 16th.

 


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