Monday, January 30, 2017

About the Haul Road

At the Economic Development Committee meeting on January 19, Tom DePietro, chair of the Hudson Planning Board, was evasive when asked if the Planning Board was content to accept the Greenport Planning Board's position that the dock would not be considered in the SEQR process or if the Hudson Planning Board would continue to argue that it should be, saying that the matter was still under consideration. The argument is that, in assessing the environmental impacts of a haul road bringing gravel from the quarry to the waterfront, the review cannot stop where the haul road ends. It must include what happens when the trucks leave the haul road and continue on city streets over the railroad tracks to the dock and what happens when the gravel-laden trucks arrive at the dock. 

Whatever position the Planning Board ends up taking in the matter, a group of Hudson residents and business owners have decided they are not content with the Greenport Planning Board's definition of the project and have hired a lawyer, law use and environmental attorney John Lyons, to represent them. Last week, Lyons submitted a five-page letter to the Greenport Planning Board, making the case that the Greenport Planning Board, as lead agency in the SEQR process, must consider the "whole action." The letter's summary reads as follows:
The Planning Board's upcoming determination as to whether this application is deemed complete is an important one. As far as the issue of completeness is concerned, you must require the Application to contain detail about these impacts before you deem it complete. Without the information you cannot make a proper Determination of Significance.
Below we discuss why, as Lead Agency, you must require that the application contains sufficient, detailed information about how this proposed haul road will function in relation to Applicant's overall future plans for the operation of the mine. This is necessary to avoid improper segmentation. The information required should include a definitive statement from the Applicant as to the intensity and scope of the mining operation, as well as the present and future truck traffic figures if the road is approved. Without sufficient information about this Project, you cannot make a proper Determination of Significance as part of your environmental review.
Also discussed below are your responsibilities as Lead Agency to evaluate potential adverse environmental impacts which may occur in the City of Hudson, including, for example, potential adverse impacts to community character. Since the City of Hudson Planning Board is an Involved Agency, and Involved Agencies can make their own, independent State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) findings, it is important that the record have a thorough evaluation of all potential adverse impacts of this project wherever they may occur. Specifically, you should consider how this Project may impact the sense of place and quality of life, not only in Greenport, but also in Hudson. This includes evaluating impacts from traffic, dock activity, and impacts to the newer, and growing, aspects of Hudson's community character in the area of the river. This community character reflects the present day balanced and mixed-use water front which is less industrial now (and will be in the future per the City's zoning) and which will grow in orientation toward a character which reflects tourism, recreation and the aesthetic appreciation of Hudson's river front.
On another aspect of the haul road, two documents appeared recently on the Planning Board page of the City of Hudson website. The first is an undated letter from John Rosenthal, writing on behalf of an ad hoc group called Hudson for Hudson, introducing a second document which chronicles, in photographs, maps, and details from permit applications, the changes made to the haul road going east from Route 9G, over land that is part of the City of Hudson, without applying to the Hudson Planning Board for a conditional use permit, as required by Hudson zoning. The letter calls on the Planning Board "to take into consideration any proper action to remedy this situation."


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  2. Looked at from any angle, the insurmountable fact which undermines the landowner's assumptions is that it bought the property after we amended our Zoning Code. That means there can be no hardship argument on the basis of the zoning other than a self-inflicted one.

    What the company should be doing is looking at all available options under the existing Zoning Code to remove its trucks west of 3rd Street.

    Company spokesmen say they're sensitive to the underprivileged neighborhoods they use, and also to the City's shaky infrastructure. We'd really like to see if those fine words mean anything.

    So far it's the same old extortion in a new bottle: the only way residents will get Environmental Justice is if we set aside our Local Laws to favor an expansion plan (read: new bottle).

    By now, this company has clearly shown itself to be a questionable neighbor, and in that spirit it's the company's job to explore viable alternatives to the proposal, and not ours.

    Except now that the project sponsor is actually receiving violations from the City, the situation has changed again. Now, a prospective plaintiff would be certifiably stupid to discuss available alternatives, or at least to do so before the proper moment in the SEQR review.

    It's increasingly evident that this company bought a lemon, which is lately passed off as Hudson's problem somehow.