Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Haul Road and Beyond

This evening--Tuesday, January 24--the Greenport Planning Board holds its monthly meeting. The first item on the agenda is the Colarusso haul road. The meeting, which takes place at Greenport Town Hall, begins at 7:30 p.m.

Yesterday evening--Monday, January 23--the Hudson Conservation Advisory Council reported the following on its Facebook page:
We wrote to the Greenport Planning Board to assert that two environmental issues should be considered in deciding whether to approve Colarusso's proposed modifications to the South Bay causeway. Those are, in brief:
•  The need for a complete evaluation of current conditions on the causeway, and of potential impacts on habitats and species that may result from the proposed changes.
•  The need to restore tidal flow under the causeway to the isolated section of the wetland to its north.
The entire letter, which is dated January 19, can be read here

Meanwhile, on the waterfront, south of the dock, between the railroad tracks and the river, a new project involving gravel has been undertaken, on land zoned Core Riverfront.  

On September 26, 2011, about six weeks before the Common Council adopted the current LWRP, William Sharp, principal attorney for the NYS Department of State, in explaining the protections written into the LWRP for the Core Riverfront District, which includes the "causeway," stated: "It would be at the point where something happens on the property, where the paving of the road--or the road needs to be regraded--if that's regraded, they're going to have to get a conditional use permit for the entire property." The main clause of that sentence bears repeating: "they're going to have to get a conditional use permit for the entire property." Sharp can be heard saying this on the audio recording archived by WGXC, which can be found here. His statement begins at 1:08:26.


  1. It is worth noting that the new grading work in those photos intrudes into a 4.4 acre parcel of land which belongs to the City of Hudson. As the consequence of a badly executed transaction in 1981, title to that parcel was never transferred out of the City's hands.

    Gossips filed an extensive report on the issue, enclosed here-


  2. 1.

    It was explained by the City on Monday that even though some of the work may have taken place on Colarusso-owned land (for only one example, see the last four photos above), it wasn't the Colarusso company doing the work. For that reason, Colarusso Ventures wasn't responsible if someone else violated the zoning on Colarusso property.

    Hmm, does that make any sense to anyone? Not me.

    We're hearing that compromise is what's needed, but all parties already compromised when the zoning was amended in 2011. I say ALL parties because at one time or another every zoning initiative which was enacted was recommended by the previous industrial owner of the South Bay.

    Even so, when the "LWRP zoning" was finally amended, everyone felt they'd lost something. But no party could say they had to compromise their principles, and as a result we actually achieved a stable balance of interests at the waterfront. The zoning really did promote the mixed-use waterfront so many residents wanted, even by virtue of protecting the interests of the working dock.

    After the great compromise of 2011, the only thing left to do - and the only way forward now - is to apply one standard for all.

  3. 2.

    Now all of that is crashing down. Our immense efforts - the compromises made by all parties - are being discarded to suit a private investment made after the fact.

    Because the zoning was created three years before the current owner's purchase, any disappointment will be self-inflicted. There's no hardship that wasn't foreseeable if the buyer had studied the text of the Core Riverfront Zoning Code.

    But depending on the City department, or which City attorney you speak with, you get this increasing sense that residents are expected to accommodate the company's plans.

    There are no good reasons why we should abandon our hard-won waterfront zoning, which is why the industry's usual champions in City government (who may be investors for all we know) are carting out the same old extortion we heard a decade ago. Only now it's "trucks on the streets" versus an actual expansion of operations! That's pretty novel.

    The obvious response to this new extortion is that nowadays everyone is insisting on Environmental Justice, everyone except for those whose first priority is the company's bottom line.

    (Consider that at any time since the zoning was amended, the Colarusso company, and Holcim before it, could have implemented the DOT-approved 2009 site plan for rerouting trucks away from the City. It has to be asked, if these parties really cared so much about City residents and City infrastructure, then why did they choose to run their trucks through the 2nd Ward for more years than was necessary?)

    It's obvious what's going on. By underestimating the City's Zoning Code a private corporation bought a lemon. City residents are now expected to pick up the slack by helping protect the company's shareholders and their expansion plan.

    But the cooperation of city residents works directly against the express purpose of the amended zoning, which was a difficult balance these same residents helped bring into existence. But why should we toss our hard work?

    Meanwhile (incredibly), city residents are witness to the same corporation's appalling violations of the Zoning Code which residents helped develop. Right, the same Code we're being asked to set aside as a favor in future. It's all pretty stupefying.

    And while all of this is going on, what is City Hall's reaction? Looking to lawyers who're scrambling to think of a compromise.

    Well we have news for them, the compromise took place five years ago, which was three years before the property changed hands.

    The only thing left after the great compromise of 2011 was to apply one standard equally, which is all we need to do going forward.

    That's why we choose to defend the LWRP zoning, which was compromise enough.

  4. How does a revitalization plan result in a decade of fewer users?

    1. What parts of the revitalization plan can be "used" when only the LWRP zoning became law?

      But as soon as some giant with a giant lawyer takes whatever it wants, the City can't even enforce that much of it. Officials ignore zoning violations until residents protest, at which time City Hall scrambles to appease the violator rather than city residents.

      I know it's killing you, who's Colarusso's "big lawyer"? Well he's from a li'l old firm in Albany, calls itself McNamee, Lochner, Titus & Williams.

      (Go for it, Joe.)

  5. Precisely, unheimlich. The zoning IS the compromise. The only parties that seem to want to confuse the issue are the City's attorneys and Colarusso. I can understand why a private corporation would want to manufacture a crisis to win a zoning change in their favor, but I cannot understand why the City would feel any need to oblige such a fiction. To have a balanced, mixed-use waterfront we must enforce the existing Zoning Code, not bend it to the will of an outside business. No one is questioning Colarusso's right to their legal property. We respect the fact that they wish to do business, as is their right. However, they cannot dictate and bully the City as to what our Zoning Code says just because the existing Code gets in the way of their plans for expansion. A good neighbor does not act like this.

    1. This is a manufactured crisis to cover a bad bet. The only party falling for it is City Hall.

      Residents will stick with the all-around compromise already achieved.

      We want to ask instead why our "good neighbor" made no effort to get trucks off City streets when the company and its predecessor already had DOT-approved crossings at Routes 9 and 9-G?

      And out of that an expansion plan was born?

      This is a fiction with missing chapters (very like the site plan with its missing information).

  6. the only citizens that "lost something" due to the ignorance of those sitting at the Monopoly board (LWRP) were the hundred or more NYS licensed fishermen, hunters, trappers, boaters that had been using the North Dock area as a stepping off point to the river's bounty, continuously and safely, for over a hundred years. they lost "everything" and were never invited to any "compromise". how about giving that back to the citizens before we give "anything" else away.

    1. You're wrong. There were always representatives of the shacks involved at every stage of the process.

      The hunters, trappers, fishers, and boaters were no more or less represented in the compromise than anybody else, which is to say we were all pretty much ignored.

      But in our vociferous criticisms, together we did manage to shape the only substantial outcome, which was the zoning.

      But however that sausage got made, the LWRP zoning is now the law, except the City is telling us the law doesn't mean what we know it means.

      Actually, we're better interpreters of the zoning than our own City lawyers, who'd be wise to listen to us. Instead, the City is hunkering down and reverting to its traditional distrust of the citizenry.

      Do you see, this is the same complaint you're making, except for your belief that only your interests were slighted. Not true, and also not helpful to our shared argument.


  7. For the want of a rail our shore was lost...

  8. The Conservation Advisory Council letter distills the environmental questions at the heart of concern about the expansion of the haul road in Hudson's South Bay. The CAC has judiciously and firmly highlighted where the environment of the South Bay may be at risk. This is important for the very reason we have SEQR, to evaluate the environmental impact of an "action". What binds the "action" of expanding the haul road and port to the SEQR process are the issues of possible substantial changes elaborated by the CAC. Arguably, there are other impacts, but the CAC properly exercised its advisory authority on environmental conservation questions just as those of us who supported its creation intended. The CAC's questions must be resolved before SEQR can be completed.

  9. Approximately one third of the new work took place on the property of Colarusso Ventures. This included grading at the point and resurfacing of the access road.

    Incredibly, the City is satisfied that if Colarusso didn't do the work, then it doesn't matter who the landowner is. Well, that's just flat out incorrect.

    For good measure, and to avoid further investigation, the City is saying that all of the lands in question are owned by the railroad.

    The City's WRONG! and already possesses the easement maps to learn exactly how wrong. We FOILed the easement survey from the City in 2013, and have since conducted the mapping work which the City desperately wants to avoid.

    Does anything ever change in Hudson?! It seems to make no difference who we put in office, in the end Hudson's politicians end up despising the public.

    Note to City Hall: you're getting crap advise from your experts. So why not listen and learn from the public instead? Yes it's a crazy experiment, but please let's try it just once.

    Maybe one day you'll even let us explain the City's Zoning Code to you, before it has to be explained to you in court.

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