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Kingston plan moving on after setback with county

KINGSTON — A plan guiding development in downtown Kingston may be back on track this month, after it was derailed before the County Board of Commissioners in December.

At a tense meeting Wednesday evening, County Commissioner Steve Bauer told Kingston Citizens Advisory Council members he believed their plan had flaws, but said the county hadn’t communicated its expectations well enough.

“What’s clear, in retrospect, is that the county didn’t have its act together from the start,” Bauer said. “I can’t defend what happened.”

The Advisory Council and Kingston Stakeholders had worked with county staff for more than a year to design a plan that would guide zoning, parking, streetscapes and other elements in the town’s core.

On Dec. 14, the Board of Commissioners approved a commercial zoning expansion for the downtown but didn’t approve the regulatory portions of the Downtown Kingston Master Plan, leaving Advisory Council members bewildered.

“It’s just the weirdest deal to get to the end and have everyone in the class get an F,” said Rick Lanning, who served on the downtown plan subcommittee.

Bauer said the plan was “beautiful” on paper but the commission did not think it was executable.

The plan didn’t adequately plan for parking and stormwater management, Bauer said, and placed the burden of funding street improvements on the county. He recommended the Advisory Council consider creating a local improvement district to pay for downtown projects.

Advisory Council members defended the plan’s standards and said downtown improvements wouldn’t cost the county much money because developers would pay shoulder most of the costs.

Several council members said a lack of funding for engineering studies had hampered the planning effort.

Bauer assured the Advisory Council he still agreed with the goals of the plan, and wanted it to move forward quickly.

“I’ll go home, put on Band-Aids, cover my bleeding spots,” Bauer said jokingly. “It’s been a useful conversation.”

County staff are already reviewing stormwater regulations in the plan, said Peter Sullivan, county liason to the Advisory Council.

Over the next month Advisory Council members will meet with county staff to revise the plan before it returns to the Board of Commissioners.

For more details on the Downtown Kingston Master Plan, visit the Kingston CAC Web page.

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