De­ci­sion is boost for Ir­ish cen­ter

Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals af­firms en­force­ment of­fi­cer’s con­clu­sion

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ariél Zangla azangla@free­manon­ ArielAtFree­man on Twit­ter

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.

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