Monday, December 08, 2008

OPEN LETTER FROM ALDERMAN HOFFAY

The following is an Email I received from Tom Hoffay regarding the Washington Avenue Moratorium...


Dear Friends....

I waited a few days before responding to the many emails I received concerning the pending Moratorium Legislation, so that I could have a reasonable understanding of the concerns that have arisen in the course of progress of the legislation through the Laws & Rules Committee and to the floor of the Common Council. There has been a fair amount of discussion concerning both the legislation and the proposed CVS pharmacy proposal now before the Planning Board. In anticipation of the Common Council meeting on December 16, I would like to engage that discussion with my thoughts on the subject.

Since the moratorium was first proposed there has been heated discussion as to the application of the moratorium to proposals previously pending before the Planning Board. This has been the focus of the pro and anti CVS groups. At the Council meeting on December 2nd. I offered an amendment to the legislation that would exempt all pending proposals before the Planning Board. This was not the first amendment to the legislation, previously all internal
alterations to existing buildings, requiring a building permit, were also exempted.

As the author and floor manager for the legislation, I take full responsibility for the decision to cut loose any connection between the proposed moratorium and the opposition to CVS. It was not done lightly, but seriously considered and adopted unanimously by the Council as the result of a number of considerations.


Stopping CVS was never the intent of the legislation. CVS is not mentioned in the legislation, nor in the amendment. That the connection was mentioned, frequently, in the remarks of both opponents and supporters became an increasing distraction from what was its stated goal and that remains to provide time for the design standards efforts for Greenway, Gateway Grant given to the City of Kingston and Town of Ulster. At a certain point, it became clear to me, that continuing any association of the moratorium proposal and the CVS Pharmacy proposal would seriously jeopardize passage of the moratorium.

In caucus, with my council colleagues , I asked for their support for the legislation based on the number of pending studies and grants that would directly affect the Uptown community and the need to have design standards in place for the Washington Ave. Gateway. I received that support. It was always about controlling our destiny as a community by implementing designs that would become the standard for any new buildings proposed in the future. Any distraction from that goal would seriously undermine the efforts of the moratorium. In a number of public hearing held previous to the December 2nd meeting and in the Public Comment section of that meeting itself, it became quite clear that support for the moratorium and the resultant design standards was seriously imperilled by its linkage with the CVS proposal. If allowed to play itself out, the Mayor's expected veto and a return to the Council of the legislation would have divided the Uptown community and caused a loss of support for the very concept of design standards.

The CVS proposal is in the hands of the Planning Board and that is the process that should be the focus of those opposed to its approval. A moratorium intending to prevent the construction of a targeted project, is a misuse of the concept and subject to court action. CVS has a process already in place and the proper forum is the Planning Board. The moratorium legislation is the prerogative of the Common Council and will bind the Planning Board for future proposals.

I understand that not everyone will agree with my analysis of the state of these two proposals. I have spent a considerable amount of time at Public Hearings and Public Comment sessions and understand that there is a fierce debate , that may reflect on broader issues, for example the need for a Comprehensive Plan, the proper approach to Economic Development, box stores versus small business, even the role of public participation in the decision making process. These are important issues and need to be explored further. I look forward to continuing the dialogue.

What we must not lose sight of in these discussions, however, is that we are one community and the success or failure of our efforts will impact all of us. I was particularly distressed by the derision by proponents of CVS when discussing the Washington Avenue Gateway designs and troubled by the sarcasm aimed at anyone who disagreed with their point of view. I trust we will not do the same, nor seek to divide our own community.

respectfully
-Tom Hoffay

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are a number of studies still in the works focused on the Washington Corridor from the roundabout to Rt 32.
All of them expected to yield results within the next 12 months.
Any chance that this moratorium or lack there of will have an affect on the County and State planning for this area? They suggested a major traffic flow alteration last spring. I just wonder if the CVS or anything else sniffing around these properties are willing to modify their investments if the State dictates such.

Anonymous said...

HAVE YOU BEEN TO LABORREPORT.BLOGSPOT.COM ?

YOU GUYS ARE LOOKING PRETTY STUPID

Anonymous said...

Alderman Mike- great blog today- It created front page story for the Freeman. Although this is a step in the right direction, we have to create a better climate for new business. An economic program that informs our local business people and one that attracts new business. During my very brief tenure on the Common Council, I arranged a meeting with the NY State Small Business Development Center and Mayor Sottile. It was my understanding that this meeting brought some positive results.

More should be done to welcome these retailers in the city and to make certain that they are able to remain in business. Our economic development team must continue to solicit business that are disenchanted with their current locations and attempt to attract them here to Kingston's economic zone. Believe me, there are many companies seeking new areas. We have the workforce and ability. So why are they not coming?

These are challenging times. It is easy to be pessimistic, but just as simple to remain positive and attract attention to the city. Challenge creates OPPORTUNITY.
just my three cents,
Shelly Z

Anonymous said...

Great stories on that laborreport web site. Loved the video of Barney addressing the troops.

Anonymous said...

Mike, where were you on this whole issue?
Do you think the Moratorium will help or hinder business in the uptown district? I have the feeling this wont matter much to the uptown business traffic in any way, but sitting here in midtown, I have little patience with the KUBA mob anyway.

Rebecca Martin said...

PRESS RELEASE

January 6, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

KINGSTON RESIDENTS CHALLENGE LATEST CVS DESIGN AND SITING

A group of Kingston residents are suggesting changes to the latest version of a proposed new CVS building on the city’s Washington Avenue corridor to make it more consistent with the uptown Stockade Historic District. The ad-hoc group, including members of the Friends of Historic Kingston, plan to voice their ideas at the next regular meeting of the Planning Board at City Hall, on January 12th at 6 pm.

“CVS has over 4,000 stores and we know that they value their market identity and that they have a standard new building that they always prefer. They like parking to be visible in front,” said Lowell Thing, Chairman of the Friends of Historic Kingston’s Preservation Committee. “But we also know, that in a number of other cities, CVS has been willing to build something that blends into a historic place and to align the building on the street. We plan to mention several of those places and show what some alternative approaches might look like. Kingston is New York State’s First Capital and the Washington Avenue corridor is the most common way to approach it for tourists and those coming to the city for the first time. So how CVS builds here has economic significance as well."

A proposed development moratorium for the Washington Avenue Corridor has been passed by the Kingston Common Council and Mayor James Sottile has indicated he plans to sign the law. However, the CVS project was specifically excluded from the moratorium. Earlier, a petition of more than 1,200 signatures had been submitted to the Common Council urging a moratorium that would have allowed a new Design Guideline to be developed that could apply to the CVS project.

Rebecca Martin, an active supporter of including CVS in the moratorium, said, “It’s my belief that even without the Design Guideline, our Planning Board has the right to ask the developer to build in such a way that it fits into our historic community. We’re hopeful that the developer will agree to make the needed changes.”

The Planning Board meeting is open to the public and Kingston residents are urged to attend.

Contact: Lowell Thing (Chairman of the Friends of Historic Kingston Preservation Committee), 331-4985