Jamie Larson has the story in today's Register-Star: "Trucking company paves South Bay causeway." Although the move on the part of O&G took many by surprise, Larson reports that Mayor Richard Scalera knew this is going to happen, and it seems that Common Council President Don Moore may also have had some inkling. [ADDENDUM: Gossips has received word from someone who was with Moore when he learned what was happening on the causeway attesting to the fact that he was genuinely surprised. Truth be told, although Gossips has spoken with Moore about the paving of the causeway, the issue of who knew and when they knew was not been fully explored.]
According to Scalera, O&G received a permit to do this work from the Department of Environmental Conservation in October 2009. In December 2009, however, Scenic Hudson appealed the permit to the Freshwater Wetlands Appeals Board, and the stipulation agreed to by Scenic Hudson and DEC as a consequence of that appeal does not permit the extent of work that was done in South Bay yesterday. Gossips learned that Scenic Hudson has notified DEC, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of State and is investigating the situation to determine if the stipulation has been violated. The Valley Alliance issued a formal complaint to DEC, DOS, ACE, as well as to the City of Hudson Planning Commission and Code Enforcement Officer. Several citizens called the DEC TIPP hot line to report an environmental violation.
Among other things, the work was being done without delineation flags or markers to prevent encroachment into sensitive wetland areas. Apropos that, this picture shows the new roadway crushing butterfly-weed, considered an "exploitably vulnerable species" by DEC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In the context of city government, what's most interesting is that this project never came before the City of Hudson Planning Commission. (Curiously, mayor's aide Carmine Pierro is a member of the Planning Commission.) In October 2009, when O&G initially presented its permit application for the Greenport section of the haul road to the Town of Greenport Planning Board, city attorney Cheryl Roberts sent a letter to Ken Faroni at O&G stating: "Though 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 [i.e., "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"], the City Planning Commission has not received a permit application from O&G to date. In addition, it appears that the NYS Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also may be involved agencies in this action." Roberts goes on to warn that "seeking approval from the Town of Greenport Planning Board in advance of a declaration of lead agency and undertaking a coordinated review . . . amounts to segmentation in violation of 6 NYCRR 617.3(g)." So what does constructing half the road without a coordinated review or a review by the Planning Commission of municipality in which it is located amount to?