Of interest is the fact that the terms of three members of the Planning Board--Cleveland Samuels, Glenn Martin, and Gene Shetsky--expire at the end of this month, and DePietro intimated that all three are to be replaced with new members.
Although no public hearings took place, it turned out that, except for the two applicants those public hearings were cancelled, the rest of the people had come to City Hall for what actually did take place: an open discussion of the proposed Colarusso haul road from Newman Road in Greenport to the Hudson waterfront.
DePietro told the audience that the Planning Board was in the process of drafting a letter to the Greenport Planning Board, which has been granted lead agency status in the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The letter, DePietro explained, would define "what our interests in Hudson are." He said he wanted people to know that the Hudson Planning Board's review of the proposed haul road would be "an open and careful process," and he encouraged people to attend Greenport Planning Board meetings, to let them know that the project was of concern to the people of Hudson. He then invited questions and comments from the audience.
Timothy O'Connor was first to speak, bringing up what he called "the east causeway"--the part of the haul road going east from Route 9G through a part of Hudson zoned Recreational Conservation.
O'Connor pointed out, as he has before, that the conversion of what was a rutted trail into a gravel road should have come before the Planning Board for site plan review. DePietro told O'Connor that the decision of whether or not something came before the Planning Board was made by the code enforcement officer. Mitch Khosrova, counsel to the Planning Board, suggested that the easement for the road, which Colarusso presumably inherited from Holcim, may have been the width of the current road, and in widening the road, "they are just taking advantage of what they had all along."
Khosrova asserted that there was no established baseline and hence to way to determine if what had been done exceeded what was permitted. O'Connor alleged that everything had been documented in a letter written by former city attorney Cheryl Roberts, but no one could find that letter.
The discussion then switched from the "east causeway" to the dock, where a major revetment project was completed within the past week or so. In this case, Gossips has learned, Hudson's code enforcement officer has maintained that only the Army Corps of Engineers had jurisdiction over the work that was done.
|Work in the "causeway" going west in 2011|
When Khosrova pointed out that the proposed haul road would mean many fewer trucks going through city streets, Tony Stone said he didn't want "the city attorney to pit citizens against each other." Trucks going to the dock now enter the city on Route 23B from Newman Road, follow Green Street to Columbia Street, take Columbia Street to Third Street, and Third Street to the entrance to the causeway. This entire route, up to the turn into South Bay, is on state designated truck routes. Trucks going from the dock back to the quarry do not use the route through South Bay. Instead, after crossing the railroad tracks on Broad Street, they go north on Front Street to Columbia Street and up Columbia Street, where, once they have crossed Third Street, they are back on the state truck route, and they retrace their path back to Newman Road. The reason they don't go back through South Bay is that the Department of Transportation will not permit heavy trucks emerging from South Bay to make a left turn onto Route 9G, but, as Stone pointed out, they could make a right turn and bypass the city by returning to the quarry by way of Routes 23 and 9H.
Khosrova called the information that trucks could make a right turn onto Route 9G, which has been known for at least three years, a "show stopper," but is it? Could the City, were it to have the will, force Colarusso to route its trucks on a longer path that would keep them off Hudson's streets both coming and going? Even if this were possible, it doesn't address the problems that remain ours: an industrial haul road through a significant coastal habitat, truck traffic at the only entrance to the waterfront, industrial activity at the dock, and the fugitive dust.
Melissa Auf der Maur recalled that ten years ago no trucks passed Basilica Hudson. "There were no trucks and no people. . . . The fight was to get people to the water." She asserted there was something wrong in the city planning. "How did we get to this point of industrial expansion?" She pointed out that the level of industrial activity, as it is now, is unacceptable. She noted that the gravel trucks are interfering with the hundreds of people who are going to work every day in the former L&B building, where Digifabshop and other enterprises now operate.
Reacting to Auf der Maur's statements, Rosenthal raised the question of whether or not Colarusso was a good neighbor and asked, "Why should we favor a business interest in Greenport over business interests in Hudson?"
There is also a report about the Planning Board meeting by Rosa Acheson in today's Register-Star: "Road expansion proposal faces tough questions."
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