FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2023
Kingston Forward Approved by Council
Mayor Noble Signs New Zoning Code into Law
KINGSTON, NY – Mayor Steven T. Noble is pleased to announce that he has signed the new citywide zoning code into law. The City of Kingston is now one of only a few communities nationally that have entirely replaced an existing zoning code with a citywide form-based code, making our community a model for comprehensive change and progress.
On August 1, the City of Kingston’s Common Council unanimously approved adopting a form-based zoning code in the City of Kingston. The code, developed over the course of three years with community input and the assistance of consultants at Dover Kohl & Partners, encourages affordable housing, promotes walkable and accessible neighborhoods, safeguards historic building patterns, and preserves Kingston’s open spaces. The new code also allows the development of mixed-use spaces and diverse housing types, provides incentives and mandates for creating affordable housing, regulates short-term rentals, and sets standards for creating a safer, more walkable city.
“I am very proud of the zoning code, 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.”
The new code, which goes into effect immediately:
- Ends minimum parking requirements citywide
- Legalizes accessory dwelling units, an affordable and flexible housing type, citywide
- Legalizes multifamily and infill development citywide, including “missing middle” housing such as duplexes, townhouses, and live/work housing types, to encourage economic diversity and incremental development types
- Streamlines the development approvals process through a new Minor Site plan review process
- Creates flexible form-based standards to ensure that new development contributes to the City’s walkability and historic assets
- Legalizes many types of mixed-used development, including corner stores/neighborhood businesses
The new code is also easier to understand and use, and will balance goals for preservation, equity, sustainable growth, and change. Kingston’s success provides a potential roadmap for other New York municipalities looking to increase the size and quality of their housing stock at a time when Statewide housing action has stalled. Crucially, the code was drafted to respond to the unique concerns of Kingston residents.
Mayor Noble continued, “This is arguably the most significant land-use decision to be passed by 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 thank the Common Council for moving swiftly in considering the proposed zoning code, our wonderful consultants at Dover Kohl, and all the residents who participated in the drafting and adoption process.”
Ulster County Jen Metzger said, “Congratulations to the City of Kingston on unanimously passing a city-wide rezoning that centers equity and prioritizes smart development. The form-based code design will allow for Kingston to continue to grow and develop in a way that is respectful and understanding of its past while embracing positive mixed-use developments to enhance housing options that people can afford and prioritize small business growth. All Ulster County municipalities should consider moving to a form-based code, and for any municipal leaders who are interested, our County Planning Department stands ready to assist.”
Common Council President Andrea Shaut said, “Today is a new era for the City of Kingston – one where we step away from Euclidean zoning, a method of zoning historically based on racial segregation, and enter a community-driven, forward-thinking code. The form-based code will assist in affordability, promote walkability, encourage small businesses, and give a true sense of neighborhood to Kingston. As with any change, some sense of concern is inevitable, and I would like to assure the public that the Common Council is committed to the success of the new code and will keep a watchful eye on the progress in the months and years ahead. Personally, this has been a thrilling journey, and I am profoundly grateful for the community members whom I have had the pleasure to work with and who have dedicated countless hours to see this project to fruition. This historical moment, the beautiful future of our beloved city, is thanks to their hard work and dedication.”
Rachel Fee, Executive Director, New York Housing Conference said, “We applaud the Kingston City Council for unanimously passing the Kingston Forward code to address their housing shortage and support diverse housing types that will serve their neighbors at every stage of life. The long-term planning and robust public engagement process that Kingston undertook resulted in a plan that was responsive to the community while aggressively tackling the issues we face today and preparing us for the future. Kingston Forward is a model for equitable planning that we hope will be replicated throughout the state. It's proof that municipalities can plan for smart, sustainable local growth in a way that responds to their unique needs.”
Jolie Milstein, President and CEO, New York State Association for Affordable Housing, said “With its new zoning code, Kingston is leading the state in pro-housing land use reform. This new zoning code will directly enable the development of affordable housing while respecting Kingston’s historic character. NYSAFAH congratulates Mayor Noble and the Common Council for having the vision and will to respond to the housing crisis in this thoughtful, effective manner.”
Adam Bosch, CEO of Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress said, “The City of Kingston should be commended for thoughtfully updating its zoning to reflect modern patterns of development, walkability, and other factors that affect the vibrancy of the city. Zoning is the most powerful tool that our local governments have to encourage development, enhance and preserve neighborhoods, and shape the future of their communities. Kingston’s new zoning– and the public process that yielded it – is a model for other cities and villages across the Hudson Valley who value smart growth, and vibrant downtowns where people can live, work, and recreate.”
Consultants at Dover, Kohl & Partners said, “The Dover-Kohl team was honored to have the opportunity to work closely with the City and community over the last two years, helping draft these new standards to meet your goals and priorities. We are excited to see the results as the code is put into use.”
Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO said, “This is a milestone event for the City of Kingston, one that marks a real turn in its ability to affect affordable housing and add vibrancy in the City by legalizing accessory dwelling units, increasing density, housing tenures and mixed-use development. This change in zoning removes barriers to affordable housing and leverages our collective investment in the City’s infrastructure to work for all of us. Kudos to Mayor Noble for leading this change!”
For more information, visit https://engagekingston.com/kingston-forward.
Mayor Noble established the Department of Housing Initiatives in 2020 to support housing planning in the City of Kingston. The Department manages housing-related grants, supports the construction of new market-rate and affordable housing, develops policies to protect existing residents, and addresses the connection between housing and sustainability, health, and mobility. The Department also reviews the disposition of city-owned property suitable for housing development and collaborates with local and regional housing organizations. Current projects include city-wide rezoning efforts, short-term rental guidelines, the ARPA Affordable Housing Fund, the Emergency Tenant Protection Act, the Midtown Brownfields Opportunity Area, the Disposition of City-owned properties, and many more. Visit https://kingston-ny.gov/housing.