Sunday, July 23, 2017

Meeting Reminder

On Tuesday, July 25, the Greenport Planning Board holds its regular meeting, starting at 7:30 p.m. at Greenport Town Hall. It is expected that the Greenport Planning Board, as lead agency in the SEQRA process for the proposed Colarusso haul road, will formally decide at that meeting whether to make a positive declaration or a negative declaration on the project. A positive declaration is a determination by the lead agency that an action may result in one or more significant environmental impacts and starts the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. Given the board's responses, at a special meeting on July 11, to the items in Part 2 of the Environmental Assessment Form, it seems unlikely they will make a positive declaration.


  1. Greenport shouldn't be making a determination before identifying the City Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) as an "involved agency."

    To date, the Greenport Planning Board as SEQR "Lead Agency" has simply accepted the account of the applicant, A. Colarusso & Son, Inc., insofar as no zoning variances can possibly be required for the proposed action. The Lead Agency never even contacted our ZBA!

    On that subject, the NYS SEQR Handbook answers its own question, "Is there a penalty for failing to identify an involved agency?"

    "If the lead agency can show that it made a reasonable effort to identify all potential involved agencies, there is no penalty. But, if a known involved agency is not given an opportunity to participate, there may be grounds to nullify any approvals subsequently made regarding the action because of failure to comply with SEQR procedures" (SEQR Handbook, p. 58).

    In our public comments in May, we informed the Lead Agency that the ZBA must be contacted. Greenport didn't - or more probably wouldn't - do it.

    On the other hand, the City ZBA can simply announce its official "involvement" without asking anyone's leave. But the ZBA won't do it, while also refusing to explain why not?

    I don't believe one of its members has the slightest idea why not. It's just "no," and that's that (and damn your impudence for asking!).

    The ZBA has till Tuesday to make itself known as an involved agency. Please tell them that if there's any doubt in their minds, then they must do this.

    In the meantime, a complaint is being filed with the State of New York stating that the City has had over a year to understand - and to explain that it understands - its own Zoning Code. Unfortunately, that intervention will not happen before Tuesday.

  2. Why is the City not defending its Zoning Code?!

    Why are our officials so eager to follow the interpretation of a single City attorney who agrees with the applicant and the Greenport Planning Board, but who has yet to dignify residents with a reply to our claim that the C-R Zoning District is the width of a private road, and not an inch wider.

    Rather than defend our interests to the greatest extent possible (by acknowledging that the ZBA is an involved agency in the SEQR review), the City is getting away with something which offers an astounding advantage to the mining interest.

    The only way around what is written in the Zoning Code is pretzel logic, but the City is satisfied it can pull it off against the interests of residents. Why?

    It's simple beyond belief to inform Greenport that the City ZBA will be included in the SEQR review, and yet the City refuses. Why is this happening?

    By refusing our request for the ZBA to be an "involved agency," the City is fully cognizant that it's calling the bluff of its residents.

    It's because there's NO ADVANTAGE for the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to avoid an involvement with SEQR, it's totally gratuitous for the ZBA to now challenge residents to see if we'll sue the City. No advantage!!

    For the most part, the City's stubbornness is due to our officials' ignorance about how to interpret the Zoning Code. Even the ZBA's lawyer doesn't know how to interpret it, which is the actual reason our zoning officials are opting out of the SEQR review.

    Adding injury to injury (we're paying for this bad advice though our taxes), the City's inaction on this point is now blatantly destructive to our interests. The only resolution will be through a court challenge.

    Again, why is the City doing this to us? It's pointless!

    Why aren't our officials doing everything they can to protect us? Why haven't any of them explained themselves? (I've witnessed some tantrums, but that's no substitute for reason.)

    In an effort to be kind we'll attribute our officials' confusion to gross incompetence, but they must understand that their message to City residents is now crystal clear: "Go ahead and sue us."

    Pointless waste and self-destruction. Will this City ever change?