City of Kingston Releases New Zoning Code Draft


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By Miranda Reale

KINGSTON – The first draft of Kingston’s new zoning code and map was released last Wednesday. “This is the first draft of the new zoning code and map, and incorporates much of the feedback that we have received from residents since the rezoning process began.

This draft will go through several revisions before being considered by the Common Council this fall,” said Mayor Steve Noble. “As we’ve seen in other communities, form-based code is a proven framework for guiding neighborhood change while preserving the unique assets and character of a community. We look forward to hearing robust feedback from the community, as this will ultimately affect every Kingston resident.”

A potential development of Uptown’s Clinton Street was proposed last Wednesday as an example of what might come with the newly published draft code. Written public comments on the first draft will be accepted until July 1, 2022.
A potential development of Uptown’s Clinton Street was proposed last Wednesday as an example of what might come with the newly published draft code. Written public comments on the first draft will be accepted until July 1, 2022.

One of many projects led by Engage Kingston, the citywide rezoning effort has been evaluating the city’s current code since last fall. Noble was joined by Dover, Kohl & Partners consultants at a public meeting, explaining what this release means for the future of the city. Being that the process has been underway since last year, the first draft guide has come a long way; vision meetings and surveys taken in 2021 and public input meetings held in February gave rise to the current draft. Now in the process moving towards official public hearings and the future adoption by elected officials, feedback will be taken into account until July 1st. Naturally, the final result will look different than the published draft but as Mayor Noble pointed out, the proposed draft is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, he said, as residents have a chance to make achievable changes in their city.

Victor Dover, a town planner and urban developer with Dover, Kohl & Partners agreed with Noble saying that, “this is a really big thing and a historic moment in the life of any community. The land development regulations are like the genetic code from which all towns grow. If you get the code right you can grow a healthy community.”

Some of the major factors aligned by the code’s blueprints focus on the need for a wide variety of housing types, new and improved streets and parking, and affordability of these developments. In past meetings, residents expressed concern about how new zoning codes will affect the visual aspect of the city’s historic architecture. Victor Dover confronted this concern, assuring residents that the preservation of Kingston’s history is a top priority. “One of the reasons we were so excited to work here in Kingston is because we were able to study some of the most historic urban fabric in the country,” he said. By studying historic building types in Kingston, the draft code preserves built heritage and uses the future components of neighborhood design to fit in with historic precedence.

Up to this point, the process has been a transparent one with predictable outcomes, but this may change without the continued feedback of the community. Another main concern of residents is the threat of higher prices in the city and the lack of affordable housing. As it stands, only 10% of the proposed development units are dedicated to affordable housing. The poll sat precariously as 50% of voters said that they were not sure about the current draft plan, but nothing is set in stone until June 22 when the final draft code public meeting will take place via online and in person.

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