Ir­ish Cul­tural Cen­ter de­ci­sion nears

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Paul Kirby pkirby@free­manon­ paulat­free­man on Twit­ter

There is an out­side chance that the city’s Plan­ning Board will come to a con­clu­sion this month on a mat­ter in con­nec­tion with the pro­posed Ir­ish Cul­tural Cen­ter, ac­cord­ing to two city of­fi­cials.

City Plan­ner Suzanne Cahill and Plan­ning Board Chair­man Wayne Platte say some sort of de­ci­sion is pos­si­ble at the Oct. 17 meet­ing of the Plan­ning Board. The mat­ter is listed on the Plan­ning Board’s agenda for the 6 p.m. meet­ing at City Hall.

Cahill said it is pos­si­ble, though far from de­fin­i­tive, that the Plan­ning Board would make a de­ter­mi­na­tion on whether the project has any sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.

The Plan­ning Board con­sid­ers this fac­tor un­der the State’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity Re­view Act, or SEQRA as it is com­monly known.

The board is charged with de­cid­ing whether to give the project a “neg­a­tive dec­la­ra­tion,” which means it would not have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment. It could is­sue a “pos­i­tive dec­la­ra­tion,” which means the project would have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.

If a pos­i­tive dec­la­ra­tion is given, the de­vel­oper would need to take steps to mit­i­gate the spe­cific im­pacts.

The Plan­ning Board also needs to grant site plan ap­proval in or­der for the project to pro­ceed. Still, Cahill and Platte say, a de­fin­i­tive an­swer on whether the Plan­ning Board will make any de­ci­sions on Oct. 17 would wait un­til af­ter Wed­nes­day’s pub­lic hear­ing. That hear­ing is to be held at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 420 Broad­way.

‘We have not yet had the pub­lic hear­ing which I an­tic­i­pate will bring out sev­eral par­ties, both pro and con,” Cahill said Thurs­day.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Ir­ish Cul­tural Cen­ter and its op­po­nents are await­ing a de­ci­sion from the Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals on an ap­peal filed by the op­po­si­tion.

The le­gal chal­lenge stems from a code en­force­ment opin­ion that uses out­lined for the

pro­posed Ir­ish Cul­tural Cen­ter are al­lowed at the Abeel Street prop­erty. It is un­clear when that de­ci­sion will be made but the Zon­ing

Board of Ap­peals meets next on Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

On Wed­nes­day, the city’s Heritage Area Com­mis­sion ex­pressed con­cern with the scale of the pro­posed Ir­ish Cul­tural Cen­ter on Abeel Street while re­view­ing whether the project

was con­sis­tent with Kingston’s Lo­cal Water­front Re­vi­tal­iza­tion Pro­gram.

The com­mis­sion ul­ti­mately de­cided the project was con­sis­tent with the pro­gram, so long as mod­i­fi­ca­tions were made to re­duce the pro­posed cen­ter’s scale.

The com­mis­sion’s non­bind­ing find­ing will be for­warded as a rec­om­men­da­tion to the city’s Plan­ning Board. That board could also sug­gest a sim­i­lar change and take no ac­tion.

The 0.44-acre par­cel where the cen­ter is pro­posed to be built is bor­dered

on two sides by pri­vate prop­er­ties and to the rear by Com­pany Hill Path and a re­tain­ing wall.

The Ir­ish Cul­tural Cen­ter pro­posal calls for con­struc­tion of a 16,889-square-foot build­ing over­look­ing the Ron­d­out Creek. The cen­ter is to

in­clude a 185-seat the­ater, a film and mu­sic pro­gram, an art stu­dio and ex­hi­bi­tion gallery, a dance stu­dio, record­ing fa­cil­i­ties, a mul­ti­pur­pose so­cial area, a pub and tea room, a 150seat ban­quet fa­cil­ity, a roof gar­den area and a learn­ing op­por­tu­nity area.

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