FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 5, 2022
Kingston Forward Zoning Code Draft 3.0 Released
Mayor Sends Draft to Common Council for Public Hearing
KINGSTON, NY – Mayor Steven T. Noble is pleased to announce that the third and final draft of the Kingston Forward zoning code has been released.
Mayor Noble began citywide rezoning efforts in late 2018, with a call for members of a Zoning Task Force to begin the process of updating the City of Kingston’s outdated zoning code. The task force worked to create an RFP for hiring a consultant to create a form-based code. In 2021, the Common Council authorized the City to hire Dover Kohl, whose team has been engaging with the community and data collecting since September 2021. The existing zoning code, which has not been updated since the 1960s, has been associated with confusion, frustration, litigation, red-lining, and arbitrary regulation. The proposed code update will be easier to understand and use, and will balance goals for preservation, equity, sustainable growth, and change.
During the creation of the new rezoning code, dubbed Kingston Forward, the team held more than 30 public meetings and offered online surveys that garnered hundreds of responses. As part of the public input process, two previous full drafts have been released with comment periods. The zoning team met with various stakeholder groups to ensure that their voices were heard and that the zoning team was able to fully understand their comments. All of the hundreds of comments received on the two first drafts were carefully considered and responded to and have been published for transparency on https://engagekingston.com/kingston-forward.
The new form-based code will:
- Introduce a new system of “transects” to regulate the ways in which land is developed. This categorizes zones from the most rural zone to the most urban zone: T1, T2, T3, T4 and T5. These zones are designed to encourage mixed-use, walkable environments. A form-based code allows the City to steer new development to ensure that it reinforces the historic urban fabric within each of these transects.
- Remove minimum parking mandates.
- Legalize accessory dwelling units, an affordable and flexible housing type, citywide.
- Reduce the administrative burden of building new housing in Kingston, especially for smaller projects that meet the review criteria of a new minor site plan review board.
- Mandate at least 10% of all units in residential projects with 7+ units be affordable and includes new incentives for affordable housing, including expedited review and discounts on site application fees.
- Introduce a fair and balanced approach to regulating short-term rentals and ensure STRs will have a negligible impact on the supply of long-term housing in Kingston.
- Legalize neighborhood-serving corner stores in many of Kingston’s neighborhoods, as had been the case prior to the adoption of the 1960s zoning code.
- Allow for “missing middle” housing, including duplexes and triplexes, as had been allowed prior to the adoption of the ‘60s zoning code, to encourage economic diversity and incremental development types.
- Reflect the goals and vision of the 2025 Kingston Comprehensive Plan and mirrors the priorities outlined in the City’s 2020 Open Space plan and Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, as dictated by the State's Coastal Management Program.
“I am very proud of the zoning code draft, which has taken into consideration best practices from other municipalities and ample community feedback,” said Mayor Noble. “This new code is truly the vision of our community – it will encourage incremental growth and smart development across the City, while preserving our open spaces. Crucially, this code reform will reduce barriers to the creation of new housing at every level and will help us combat the housing crisis. Ultimately, these changes to the code will make a more equitable city for all and I look forward to seeing it adopted.”
City of Kingston’s Director of Housing Initiatives, Bartek Starodaj said, “This is arguably the most significant land-use decision to come before the Common Council since the adoption of Kingston’s current zoning code in the 1960s. I’m proud of the years-long effort to update the City’s zoning code and map and the level of community input received on this project. I enthusiastically endorse the vision proposed by the code to right-size parking requirements, improve walkability, preserve open space, encourage infill development that is compatible with Kingston’s historic urban form, and meet other planning goals outlined in the City’s comprehensive plan. Most of all, this rezoning is about reducing barriers to the development of new housing and encouraging the development of different housing types in greater quantity. I urge the Common Council to move swiftly in considering the proposed zoning code.”
In response to the feedback on earlier drafts, major changes made to the final draft include:
- Changes to short-term rental rules. The new rules would set a cap on the number of whole-unit rentals in the City of Kingston and impose other restrictions, including limiting the number of short-term rentals to one per lot. The new rules also clarify that after proper registration with the Building Safety Department, room short term rentals, and whole-unit short-term rentals for less than thirty days per year would be allowed in most areas of the City. These rules would permit a limited amount of short-term rental activity and ensure this activity does not impact the supply of long-term rental housing.
- New incentives and requirements for affordable and workforce housing. Projects between 20 to 49 units must provide 5% workforce housing units in addition to the 10% affordable housing units. Projects with 50 or more units will have to provide 10% workforce housing units in addition to the 10% affordable housing units. New incentives have been added for encourage developers to meet or exceed the affordable housing standards, including site plan fee schedule discounts and an expedited review process. Bonus height provisions introduced in the first draft would also still apply.
- A new administrative process for street design standards. This new process clarifies how the street design guidelines would be enforced and outlines a review and approval process that involves the Complete Streets Advisory Council.
- A new height overlay that would allow greater heights in certain areas along Broadway and Cornell. This new height overlay would allow new projects to have up to six stories in certain locations along Broadway and Cornell Street by right. These are areas of the City that already have many five and six story buildings.
- A new Waterfront Special District. To be even more specific in designating standards that are in keeping with the community vision for the waterfront, previous City plans for the area, and comments we have received from this area, a new designation has been created: Special District Waterfront (SD-W). This new special district incentivizes mixed-use development and public open space along E. Strand and other areas along the Rondout and respects the cultural, historic, and natural resources of the area. The special district also recognizes that any development must be designed and built to withstand environmental conditions such as flooding.
The final draft has been submitted to the Common Council’s Laws and Rules Committee, asking that the final draft be referred to the City of Kingston Planning Board, Ulster County Planning Board, and the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission for review. The Council will set a public hearing schedule in early January 2023.
To read the final draft of the zoning code, including all comments received and the team’s responses, visit https://engagekingston.com/kingston-forward.