The Common Council
At a special meeting on Thursday night, the Common Council, predictably, passed a resolution "Adopting the findings statement for the City of Hudson Waterfront Revitalization Program and Implementing Laws." The vote was ayes: Don Moore, Geeta Cheddie, Robert Donahue, Richard Goetz, Abdus Miah, Wanda Pertilla, Sheila Ramsey, Sarah Sterling, Orhine Stewart; and nays: Ellen Thurston and Chris Wagoner.
In spite of the fact that this was billed as a special meeting of the Common Council to "consider" the GEIS Findings Statement, very little considering went on. Council President Don Moore made an opening statement in which he read the section about findings statements from the SEQRA handbook and then explained that "once a positive findings statement is accepted, the LWRP can proceed." The aldermen were asked, for the record, to affirm that they had all read the findings statement, and they all did so.
Third Ward Alderman Ellen Thurston expressed her concern that none of the agreements in the LWRP about easements or land transfers has been negotiated with Holcim and there are no guarantees that things outlined in the LWRP are actually going to happen. She called the two-phased plan for moving truck traffic to the waterfront "a problem" and said she had no faith that Phase 2 would ever happen, pointing out that the City has no way of making Holcim/O&G stop running trucks through South Bay. She concluded by saying the LWRP and GEIS were "flawed documents" and she could not vote yes on the findings statement.
In response to Thurston's criticism, Cheryl Roberts talked about the triggers that would require Holcim to obtain a conditional use permit from the City of Hudson Planning Commission. She noted that the "causeway" is not currently being used because of damage to the roadway as a consequence of Hurricane Irene and noted that "if this [LWRP] gets passed within the next month, they would have to get a conditional use permit to fix it." She also noted that the "triggers," which she seemed to consider "hair-triggers," although she never used the term, were proposed by the Department of State, and Roberts said, "DOS has promised to defend if the City gets sued by Holcim."
Moore then declared: "This document gives us what we need to control what we want to control. . . . I personally am proud of what we've gone through." He went on to say that he hoped "the groups"--by which he meant Scenic Hudson, Friends of Hudson, The Valley Alliance, and the South Bay Task Force--"don't feel excluded, because I don't think they have been." Interestingly, yesterday Scenic Hudson sent a letter addressing the findings statement to Moore, intended for the full Council. There was no mention of the letter at the meeting and no evidence that it had been distributed to the aldermen before they were called upon to vote on the resolution. The South Bay Task Force has also produced extensive comments about the findings statement. Roberts dismissed the comments and criticisms of "some of these groups," saying they were "full of misunderstanding of the document."
The Planning Commission
The special Common Council meeting adjourned at 6:50 p.m., and at 7:00 the "workshop" meeting of the Planning Commission was called to order. Although, it had been described as an opportunity for the members of the commission to ask questions about the proposed zoning changes, none of that happened. Roberts talked them through the Coastal Consistency Review Law, which among other things creates a three-member LWRP Consistency Review Board to be appointed by the mayor; led them through the answers to the five questions, described as "threshold questions," submitted by Friends of Hudson; and then coached Planning Commission chair Don Tillson as he went through the criteria outlined in Chapter 325.40 of the City Code. No one on the commission, except for Tillson himself, seemed more than occasionally engaged in this process. In fact, one member appeared to be dozing off.
In the end, needless to say, the job was done, and Roberts, who had said earlier that she would have a draft of their report ready for this meeting, said she would have the draft prepared for the commission's review at their next regularly scheduled meeting.
The LWRP marches on.