It has been almost two years since the concept of a Conservation Advisory Council was presented to the Common Council, in August 2012. Since then, Alderman David Marston (First Ward) has been working steadfastly to make it happen, and his efforts came to fruition on May 20, when the Council voted unanimously to adopt the legislation that would make it happen.
Earlier this week, on Tuesday, June 4, Mayor William Hallenbeck held a public hearing on the CAC legislation. Common Council president Don Moore opened comment by saying he was proud of Hudson. "We are a small city, but we have large aspirations to preserve our open spaces and our quality of life." Marston expressed his gratitude to the Council "for doing a careful and thorough job" of moving the legislation forward. Noting that Kingston and Newburgh already have CACs, Marston said that a CAC in Hudson would help inform the decisions the City makes that impact the environment and the river.
Despite the unanimous support of the Council, a pall seemed to rise on the CAC's prospects when the mayor asked Marston if the mayors of Kingston and Newburgh had executive powers in those cities' CACs. The mayor expressed concern that a CAC would reduce or limit the powers of the mayor and questioned if creating a CAC might not require a referendum. He made the point that the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program) gives the mayor the power to create a Waterfront Advisory Committee and questioned how that would "mesh" with the CAC and how the CAC would mesh with decisions the mayor makes about parks with DPW superintendent Rob Perry.
Gossips left the hearing worried about the fate of the Conservation Advisory Council, which is so desperately needed as the City makes plans to eliminate CSO (combined sewer overflow) events and contemplates changing zoning to increase the permitted lot coverage. The good news is that the mayor, after almost two days of uncertainty, signed the legislation today. Hudson shall have a Conservation Advisory Council, whose members have expertise in conservation and are appointed by the Common Council.
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