Jamie Larson has a follow-up on the paving in South Bay in today's Register-Star: "Clash over causeway resurface heats up." One fascinating bit of information reported in the article is that Mayor Scalera is now saying that "he was given the legal opinion by City Attorney Cheryl Roberts that O&G did not have to go to the city Planning Commission to get approval to repair the previously pothole-dotted dirt causeway." This a direct contradiction of what Roberts told Ken Faroni of O&G in a letter dated October 19, 2009: "The the City [of Hudson] has steadfastly maintained that O&G will require site plan approval from the City of Hudson Planning Commission prior to undertaking this action." This action was defined earlier in the letter as "the construction of a roadway beginning in a mine owned by Holcim, LTD, in Greenport, New York, and terminating at the deep water port located in Hudson, New York."
Judging from what Scalera is quoted as saying, Roberts' new opinion seems to be based on the familiar but questionable claim that driving trucks along the old rail bed through South Bay is a "pre-existing use." Back in the bad old days, when a conveyor--a remnant of which can still be seen crossing over Route 9--ran along the path of the old rail bed, pickup trucks used the path below and beside the conveyor to deliver workers to parts of the conveyor in need of repair and maintenance. Ten or so years ago, the road was used on an emergency basis to haul contaminated sludge from the waterfront when Niagara Mohawk was cleaning up the site, in the 19th century, of the Hudson Gasification Works. Whether or not that is adequate to constitute a "pre-existing use" seems questionable.
On the issue of whether or not a site plan review by the City of Hudson Planning Commission was required, the City now seems to be splitting hairs. The opinion now attributed to Roberts by Scalera is that site plan review and approval were not required for O&G/Holcim to pave the path through South Bay, but O&G "would likely need approval to begin actively trucking on the causeway."