After lengthy discussions about changes to the code having to do with private trash haulers and the regulation of taxicabs, the Common Council Legal Committee meeting on Wednesday night got around to considering the resolution, proposed for a second time by First Ward Alderman Sarah Sterling, authorizing Mayor Richard Scalera to negotiate with Holcim US to purchase the property the corporation owns in Hudson--the dock and South Bay. In a lawsuit over property taxes, Holicm is claiming that the property is worth only $1.5 million, and Sterling's resolution suggests that if this is the value Holcim puts the property, the City should take it off their hands for that amount.
The moment Legal Committe chair Ellen Thurston introduced the topic, Fifth Ward Alderman Dick Goetz moved to table the resolution until some undetermined later date, and First Ward Alderman Geeta Cheddie seconded it. Common Council President Don Moore said he would not support a motion to table the resolution because of the degree to which Holcim and O&G have thumbed their nose (Gossips' words not Moore's) at the City, citing as an example how they are now using the "road" through South Bay to haul gravel while continuing to use city streets.
Moore's statement seemed to be a cue for City Attorney Jack Connor to point out that, since the path through South Bay is now being used, the City could pass a law requiring O&G to use that route exclusively--for trucks loaded with gravel going to the dock and for empty trucks leaving the dock--thus eliminating gravel trucks on Columbia Street below Third and on Front Street. The problem is, of course, that the path through South Bay is only wide enough for one truck. O&G's original plan, explained at the Greenport Planning Board, called for two turnouts that would allow trucks going in opposite directions to pass, but creating those turnouts would involve review and permitting, since widening the path at two points would involve further encroachment into a sensitive wetland. Nevertheless, it seems that Connor will be writing legislation for the Common Council's consideration to force O&G to use the path through South Bay for trucks going in both directions.
Voting on Goetz's motion to table the resolution to buy the dock, Goetz, Cheddie, and Second Ward Alderman Wanda Pertilla supported the motion; Thurston and Moore were opposed.
Before the committee went into executive session to discuss ongoing litigation, David Marston, Democratic candidate for alderman in the First Ward, asked that the City, in the wake of the Hudson Chainsaw Massacre that took place recently on lower Union Street, consider enacting a tree ordinance to manage the planting, maintenance, and removal of trees and to preserve trees designated as "heritage trees" throughout the City. Marston presented for the committee's consideration DEC guidelines for tree ordinances and sample ordinances from other municipalities. Marston's proposal met with differing degrees of indifference and derision from Goetz and Cheddie, but Moore accepted the documents Marston provided, saying, "Let's look into this."