Alms House common council vote stands


KINGSTON – Following a
recent controversial 5-4 vote by the common council essentially approving
RUPCO’s zoning change to develop the Alms House building into a
60-unit senior housing facility for those 55 and older, it was announced
to the public it would stand.

A petition submitted by the surrounding residents, allowing them to challenge
the action to have it re-voted on if 20 percent of those residents in
the surrounding area signed the petition, requiring a super majority,
was overturned due to pressure from a RUPCO lawsuit.

Kingston officials eluded at the time that the 5-4 vote would result in
a lawsuit.

During the monthly common council meeting Tuesday night, concerned residents
for and against the project addressed the council. Those who had signed
the petition were confused as to why it didn’t lead to a super majority

Common Council President James Noble noted that State Supreme Court Justice
Richard Mott ruled that seven votes were not required and that a simple
majority would stand for the zoning change.

Ulster County Legislator Brian Waltman whose district includes Kingston
said he did not said he didn’t feel there was enough competition
in this process and that the government should keep their distance in
these manners, such as making RUPCO lead agency.

“I don’t believe it’s for the government necessarily
to propose those. I believe those proposals should come from the public
and I believe in an open and competitive process we would’ve had
more than just one alternative that we’re presented with today,”
said Waltman.

He said this property is crucial to the city and this matter should’ve
been handled with more care.

“It’s a gateway to the entrance to the City of Kingston. We
will only have one chance in our generation to get this right and we need
more choices, rather than fewer choices,” he said.

However, there seems to be a trend in development of senior housing within
the city, with another prospective development for the same type of housing
on the Cedar Street property.

Mayor Steven Noble said this is indicative of the population getting older
in the city and they need proper facilities to live in where they can
have the care, as well as the community they need. Additionally, he said
the state’s putting pressure all around to get more of those developments.

The mayor expressed optimism in the RUPCO project, but he is also looking
to meet the community concerns as best he can.

“I think in general, senior housing is important to have. I think
good quality senior housing is even more important to have, and I think
that what I’ve seen so far, the projects proposed by RUPCO look
like it’s good quality senior housing,” said the mayor said.

Those residents are still not completely sold on the idea, but Noble assured
the matter will be handled by the planning committee where they will try
their best to address the community concerns as a next step in the process.