Support the City of Kingston's Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission

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On September 25th, 2017, the City of Kingston’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission (HLPC) denied the Irish Cultural Center application for 32 Abeel Street in Kingston, NY, a preservation notice of action, which is needed before a building permit can be obtained in the City’s historic districts. 

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After almost two hours of discussion and deliberation that evening, the Irish Cultural Center’s lawyer asked the commissioners, again, to summarize and explain the reasoning for their votes. HLPC commissioners cited concerns with

  • the width of the building
  • the proposal’s harmony with existing buildings and the desired character of the neighborhood
  • relation of the proposed building to other buildings surrounding it
  • and proportion (how it fits in overall with the district)

Commissioner Leslie Melvin, a college coordinator of academic technology, said, “That’s the crux of the problem.  You’ve chosen the most difficult site, perhaps, in the Rondout to choose to build... Ultimately, I feel like this is a truly difficult site to try to build a mixed-use building that would tie into [two] neighborhoods successfully.” 

Commissioner Alan Baer, an architect, said, “To like a lot of aspects, but have to ultimately vote, no, is a very painful thing; we don’t do this lightly. But our mandate is to look after this beloved historic district.  And I know you guys can get it right–just keep trying to look at that proportional aspect.”

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Rather than working with the Commission to make necessary, requested changes to their proposed design, the Irish Cultural Center, instead, is appealing the decision to the City of Kingston’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

  • The ZBA hearing is anticipated to be held on Thursday, January 11th, at 6p at 420 Broadway, Kingston City Hall. Citizens are invited to attend and give testimony in support of the HLPC.

About the ICC's appeal to the ZBA, the HLPC's Vice Chair, Marissa Marvelli, a historic preservation specialist, told the newspaper:

"I strongly urge the ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals) to consider the impact this project will have on the overall character of the Rondout-West Strand Historic District, a big reason why so many residents and visitors are attracted to the area in the first place," Marvelli said in an email. "As is our responsibility, the [landmarks commission] carefully studied the proposed center's siting, scale, articulation, materiality and appurtenances."

Marvelli said the [S]eptember decision "came after months of review and deliberation."

If the Zoning Board of Appeals were to grant the applicant’s request, it would undermine the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission–a fellow City of Kingston regulatory commission.

  • The Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission is empowered by the City and the State.  Its existence is a condition of Kingston's Certified Local Government status, so it is subject to state and federal rules which qualifies the City of Kingston for grant money and eligibility, as well as a certain status.  The Zoning Board of Appeals is not the HLPC's ruling body.

We respectfully request that the Zoning Board of Appeals support the diligent work of their colleagues at the City’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission, and respect the extensive knowledge and experience this commission has in evaluating the special considerations necessary for the protection of the City of Kingston’s historic districts.

We, the undersigned, urge the Zoning Board of Appeals to support the decision of the City of Kingston’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission.



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