Saturday, February 25, 2017

On the Haul Road

Word is that the revised narrative about the proposed Colarusso haul road has been completed and submitted to the Greenport Planning Board and the Hudson Planning Board. It is not yet available on the City of Hudson website because the sheer size of the document is making it difficult to upload. Meanwhile, Nick Olivari, who apparently has seen the revised document, has an article about the proposed haul road in today's Register-Star: "Hudson residents remain skeptical of Colarusso proposal."

The Greenport Planning Board, which is the lead agency in the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process, is expected to begin consideration of the project at its next meeting, which takes place on Tuesday, February 28. The workshop session begins at 6:30 p.m.; the regular meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.


  1. There's not much new in the latest Project Narrative, aside from some previously omitted studies and DEC documents.

    The ecological data issued last August by the DEC which did not appear in the December Narrative are now included, but the State's account of the South Bay's listed species appears alongside the unaltered previous claims that no such species exist in South Bay.

    One such claim was last year's flawed EAF (the SEQR-required Environmental Assessment Form), which is re-presented with none of the obvious corrections needed for rare and listed species.

    Nor was EAF changed to reflect the permitted hours of operation given in the City Code. The hours given by the applicant are from 5 AM to 8 PM ("During Operations"), which seems to depart from the permitted hours in the Code at "Standards for Conditional Uses," in the Core Riverfront Zoning District:

    "Loading or unloading operations at the docks and truck arrivals and departures shall be limited to the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. This limitation shall not apply to on-water operations by tugboats and barges" (§325-17.1F(2)(c)).

    (In his appeal to the City's violation order, the company's lawyer observes that the requirements of the Core Riverfront District "specifically embrace and acknowledge the Company commercial dock operations." If the company will equally acknowledge its dock operation, then it may give a better account of its hours of operation in the next EAF.)

    At least we've moved beyond the initial argument, still heard at last month's Planning Board meeting (incredibly), that the dock and the new revetment are federally-regulated only; things over which the City can exercise no authority.

    But the oddest item I found in the new Project Narrative was a single changed answer in last August's EAF. When asked if "the project site contain[s] a designated significant natural community?," the applicant changed its answer from "No" to "Yes."

    Although it was proper to change at least one of the EAF's incorrect answers, the revision wasn't noted anywhere. Moreover, not only is the original date of the document preserved (thus giving the misleading impression that the correct answer was provided last August), but a magnifying glass shows that the original "No" was carefully removed with white-out (top of p. 12).

    Although I can believe that this behavior was part and parcel of the new Project Narrative's overall sloppiness, the company might want to take stock before it issues its next, long-overdue EAF revisions:

    "Project sponsors are responsible for the accuracy of the information they provide for EAFs and EISs. Presentation of misleading or knowingly false information by an applicant may lead to rejection of his proposal, or to subsequent litigation. Presentation of a misleading or knowingly false statement on such a document could also result in criminal prosecution of the person making the statement. This action would be considered 'Filing a false instrument,' a 'D' felony in New York." (New York State "SEQR Handbook," p. 68).

  2. The Register-Star article is excellent reporting - the kind of investigative print journalism we've longed for in Hudson for many years.

    But one line is flat-out wrong, based as it is on the landowner's claim:

    The causeway is "an existing roadbed dating back to the 1870s ..."

    Not true.

    It was a RAILROAD bed in the 19th century, and only replaced with a road bed in the 21st century.

    Even more recently, successive owners' trucks began using City streets in their round-trip routes to transport stone, a practice not seen since shortly after the Civil War.

    But even though we're talking about practices which are relatively new, because a road created in 2004 is technically "grandfathered," it becomes more palatable thanks to the fake historical aura. Don't fall for it.

  3. We read in the Register-Star story that "a representative said the company would not be commenting beyond the updated narrative at this time."

    To have the last word is a wonderful thing, but company representatives may discover this is not necessarily up to them.

    The most glaring omission of the new Project Narrative is that it says nothing about the City's waterfront, particularly the manner in which our waterfront may be impacted, for better or worse, as a result of the whole project.

    (One aspect of appealing the City's violation order is that the company will not have to reveal its plans, if any, for the dock.)

    Thus, the continued absence of our waterfront in the latest Project Narrative means that the technical issue of "segmentation" persists. Segmentation, which is a SEQR no-no, was already identified by both municipalities in the previous Project Narrative.

    So it's a matter of pure convenience that the company has no plans to comment beyond the updated narrative, when instead it ought to acknowledge the responsibility it brought upon itself by launching the proposal in the first place.

    The City of Hudson must reject all culpability for this development; we have nothing to apologize for and, increasingly, much to resent.