Decision is boost for Irish center
Zoning Board of Appeals affirms enforcement officer’s conclusion
The proposed Irish Cultural Center would be permitted to operate at 32 Abeel St. under the city’s zoning code, the Kingston Zoning Board of Appeals has determined.
The Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday voted 4-1 for a resolution affirming a previous decision by the city’s zoning enforcement officer that said the uses planned for the proposed Irish Cultural Center were allowed on the Abeel Street property.
Voting against the decision was board member Andrew Champ-Doran, who said after the meeting that he simply did not agree with the majority.
Champ-Doran said each member made their decision based on their understanding of the city’s zoning code.
In June, city Building Inspector Joseph Safford ruled the property was properly zoned for the center because, in his opinion, the land fronts a section of the RT District that allows commercial use of the property.
Neighbors of the property had challenged Safford’s decision, leading to the Zoning Board of Appeals action.
In its resolution, the Zoning Board of Appeals said it reviewed all the files and records maintained by the city in relation to 32 Abeel St., as well as various maps, surveys, deeds and information submitted by the individuals who filed the appeal of Safford’s decision and those representing the Irish center.
The resolution also noted that, in the Planning Board’s ongoing review of the proposed project, it should require that the main entrance of the Irish Cultural Center face West Strand. That way, the intent of the zoning code applying to the property would be fully met.
Owen and Hillary Harvey, among the neighbors who filed the zoning appeal, said in a statement that they were disappointed with the decision.
They also said they were frustrated the Zoning Board of Appeals “didn’t even extend to us the courtesy to make the determination available for us tonight so we could review their research and understand their thinking on the issue.”
“Now we have to petition the Building Department for it, which adds an unwarranted burden on citizens who are simply concerned for their neighborhood,” they said.
The Harveys said they wanted to review the board’s decision before deciding whether they would appeal it in state Supreme Court.
Deborah Robbins, an attorney for the Irish Cultural Center, said her office was pleased with the outcome.
“We have no further comment until we get to read the decision, but of course we are happy with the result,” Robbins said.
The Irish Cultural Center is to be a 16,213-squarefoot, three-story building that would have a theater on the ground floor accessed from West Strand and Company Hill Path. The first floor would have performance space and a “tea room,” as well as a kitchen and some gallery space, while the second floor would include a large classroom area, offices, a recording studio and storage. The roof of the building would feature a garden.