Saturday, September 13, 2008


A few weeks ago, my colleague Bill Reynolds, expressed a desire to modify our charter regarding “definition of family” to better match the State Constitution. He wants to eliminate any reference to the traditional family structure.

Our current zoning regulation that states no more than five unrelated people can live in such a dwelling or it’s considered a rooming house. Here is one example of a rooming house located on Clinton Avenue.

Reynolds was quoted in the Freeman: “The group living together must be permanent and stable. The occupants must share the entire dwelling unit, live and cook together as a single housekeeping unit and share expenses for food, rent or ownership costs, utilities and other household expenses - all in a way that is the functional equivalent of a traditional family."

Regarding ownership costs, I would offer that the occupants should have a sense of investment into the real estate equity as in a contract that they are part owner of the dwelling, since they are not blood relatives, the stabilizer in this equation would be the long term contract and fiscal attachment.

Taken right from the article: Reynolds said in his e-mail that residents of such a dwelling could meet his proposed "permanent and stable" standard by:

* Having minor dependent children regularly residing in the home and attending local schools.

* Having a common address for purposes of voter registration, driver's licenses, motor vehicle registrations and the filing of taxes.

* Being employed in the area and not being transient in nature

Enforcement of the rules will be the real sticking point for the Council. All too often, laws are passed without the qualified staff or authorities to keep track or levy punitive fines on violators. If there is no provision within the Building Department to enforce the revised code, we will have to create new language to fit the provision.

Everyone will remember my initial opposition to the proposed “Common Fire” operation in my neighborhood. The density of the use of the property and the increased traffic on such a minimal street as well as the Tax issue really fired up the neighbors and brought the whole “family unit” definition to the public’s attention.

Reynolds supports the co-op plan. He says his intent in seeking to change the zoning law is not to accommodate the Common Fire Foundation. I suspect it is, but the issue needed to be resolved anyway.


Brittany Turner said...

New Paltz is dealing with the same issue right now. I'm interested to see what Kingston comes up with.

The KoolAid Factor said...

Bill's definition of a family is taken basically directly from Common Fire's proposal. The very nature of being tenants is not permanent. It is my suspicion he is doing this for politically motivated reasons like trying to get the green folk on his side. He is not doing this for the good of the community.

Mr. Reynolds has been very friendly toward Common Fire. Perhaps he would like a group home like this next to his home, or maybe even a released inmate halfway house down the street.

If Kingston wants to go this route fine and I will support it. I think Common Fire is turning out to be a fairly decent non-profit. My arguments are not with them, but with the future of Kingston. Be aware that they will no longer be able to deny organizations the ability to make any housing co ops they see fit.

Anonymous said...

Clarification Mr. Parlamentian or in the absence of one, Mike??

If it really is an amendment to the Charter doesn't the voters of Kingston need to vote on it?

Anonymous said...

Please think this over very carefully, how could this definition of a "family" ever be enforced. This is solely intended
to accomodate Common Fire, the
repurcussions could be felt for years to come. Think this one through

Anonymous said...

"flies in the face of the state constitution" did Bill really say that?
What ever happened to home rule? When is a municipality able to make these decisions for itself? There are numerous instances where a city or town operates with tighter restrictions than the state or federal statute. When did Bill decide to clean up our own charter? When Common Fire rallied up the greenie crowd?
C'mon Bill...stick to the economic issues and crime in midtown. You've got real work to do.

Anonymous said...

Housing is a real issue in Ulster County. If we can keep one person from living under a bridge by allowing the Common Fire commune, then we did a good thing.

Anonymous said...

If this house was in Reynolds ward he wold not be supporting such a chnage in the current law. As he is the typicla not in my back yard person.