Vacant lots could be used for parking
A lack of available parking in Kingston has often been a topic of discussion among city leaders, and now the Common Council is considering a proposal to allow vacant lots in residential areas to be put to such use.
During a meeting of the Common Council’s Laws and Rules Committee on Tuesday, members were asked to consider amending the city’s zoning code to allow parking to be the primary use of vacant properties within residential districts. Currently, the code prohibits such use even when the vacant lot is contiguous to a developed
parcel owned by the same individual.
Under the amendment, a request to make parking the primary use of a property would be referred to the city Planning Board for approval and a special-use permit. The Planning Board would be able to place restrictions on the use or require improvements to the property, such as landscaping or lighting.
“It’s going to improve the value of the lot,” Deputy Fire Chief Tom Tiano, who heads the city’s Building Safety Division, told the committee. He said his office would be notified of any such permits being issued, allowing for monitoring of the properties.
The committee voted 3-2 to move the proposal
to the full council, which next meets in December. Minority Leader Deborah Brown, R-Ward 9, and Alderwoman Maryann Mills, D-Ward 7, voted “no,” with Mills saying she still had questions about the change. Brown questioned whether the amendment would apply only to contiguous properties, which she would prefer.
In pitching the proposal, Tiano said the issue of using vacant properties for parking has come up multiple times and the Planning Board often is asked to consider waivers for project developers. He said property owners who have contiguous vacant parcels might not necessarily want to do a lot-line deletion to make one large piece of land because it eliminates the possibility of selling one of the parcels in the future.
Tiano also said some
parcels only are large enough for a building to be constructed without parking, such as for apartment complexes.
City resident Joseph DiFalco repeatedly said he felt the amendment was being advanced only to benefit the proposed Irish Cultural Center on Abeel Street.
“This is not specifically tied to any one project,” Assistant Corporation Counsel Daniel Gartenstein said, adding that the Irish Cultural Center developers no longer were requesting to use a vacant lot for parking.
Council Majority Leader William Carey, D-Ward 5, said the change simply would give the Planning Board another tool and that the board would not be “handing out coupons” for parking. Proposals still would need to fit within the city code, he said.