Friday, August 18, 2017

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Alms House buffer zone surprises RUPCO opponents

KINGSTON – The ongoing Kingston controversy regarding a proposed senior housing development on Flatbush Avenue took a complicated twist on Thursday night, when the city common council’s Law and Rules Committee considered an unusual amendment to the Alms House re-zoning petition.

Local developer RUPCO, whose Landmark Place project was procedurally stalled by opponents in July, has rebounded with a revised application, altering lot lines.

Under the new plan, the parcel, which requires a zoning change to proceed, would be separated with a 101-foot buffer zone.

The move prevents adjacent property owners from petitioning for a supermajority vote from the city common council, as they did last month, when an attempted zoning change fell short on July 11.  The new buffer envelope would be granted to the municipality, making Kingston the immediate neighbor, rather than actual existing neighbors themselves. This end-run eliminates standing under the invoked statute.

Ten-year old case law cited in the 29-page RUPCO brief, provides a legal precedent for the buffer zone method, established in 2006 with the Town of Greenbush, NY.

The amended zoning petition was stamped received by the city clerk on July 11, but nevertheless caught opponents by surprise, when it unexpectedly appeared five weeks later on Thursday’s committee meeting agenda as a recommended action.

RUPCO officials and their attorney were not present for the committee meeting Thursday. More than 18 irked neighbors however did attend, and convinced members to table the matter until their own lawyers have time to examine the unfolding paperwork.

Ninth Ward Alderwoman Deborah Brown said that she only learned of the buffer zone curveball 48 hours before Thursday’s meeting.

“They waited until we had no time to really review it; I’m glad it was tabled.”

Brown and outgoing 7th Ward Alderwoman Mary Ann Mills both oppose the RUPCO Landmark Place project, slated for the historic Kingston Alms House site, until recently utilized by Ulster County Health Department ans was surplus after the health department was relocated.

Mills also expressed concern that DPW is tearing up Clifton Avenue to improve the sewer system, without notice to homeowners, allegedly on behalf of the RUPCO project. The official SEQRA paperwork failed to mention such impact, she said.

Amended Petition: https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/93144/20170809110538.pdf


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