Tuesday, August 9, 2011

To and Fro, from the Quarry to the Dock

Once upon a time, the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan) stated that "the City supports" the use of the causeway for moving gravel to the dock. In the most recent revision of the LWRP, that language has been tempered by the phrase "as a temporary measure." No matter what the final language in the LWRP, it seems the City's support for routing trucks through South Bay is about to rise to the level of law.

Last night at the informal Common Council meeting, Council President Don Moore revisited an idea suggested by City Attorney Jack Connor at the Legal Committee meeting on July 27: passing a law that would require O&G to route their trucks through South Bay. Moore introduced the topic of legislating heavy industrial traffic into South Bay by saying, "It's going to be a while before we get to it [the LWRP], but we now have an opportunity to do something about trucks." Reminding the Council that the loaded gravel trucks heading for the dock now travel through South Bay but trucks leaving the dock empty continue to travel on city streets, Moore said, "We can relatively quickly address the issue of getting trucks off the streets . . . [by drafting] a local law to prohibit [gravel] trucks going through the city." 

When an alderman raised the issue of the "road" on the old rail bed being only wide enough for one vehicle, Moore acknowledged that "they're going to have to do some staging" and offered the opinion that "there is plenty of room to stage," adding, "That's why God created cell phones." 

There may be more problems with this quick solution than Moore anticipates. When Holcim/O&G were proposing the direct route from the quarry to the dock, which crossed Route 9 and passed through the wetlands in Greenport between Routes 9 and 9G before crossing 9G and entering South Bay, the Department of Transportation was involved, because the trucks would be crossing two state highways. In discussions about legislating trucks to use South Bay, however, there has been no mention of DOT. Wouldn't having a regular parade of giant gravel trucks slowing down to make the turn into South Bay and pulling out from South Bay and entering traffic have as great an impact on traffic flow on a state highway as having the trucks cross the road? 

Another problem with this quick solution is the whole issue of segmentation. When a project impacts two municipalities, a lead agency must be determined and there needs to be a coordinated review of the project by the two municipalities so that approval by one municipality does not put unfair pressure on the other municipality to acquiesce. In October 2009, Cheryl Roberts, attorney for the City of Hudson, sent a letter to Ken Faroni at O&G warning that "seeking approval from the Town of Greenport Planning Board in advance of a declaration of lead agency and undertaking a coordinated review . . . amounts to segmentation in violation of 6 NYCRR 617.3(g)." Wouldn't it also be segmentation for the City of Hudson to pass a law requiring Holcim/O&G to do what is essentially the Hudson part of their proposal?

Moore and Connor talk about getting gravel trucks off the city streets, but unless the law they are proposing forces the trucks to by-pass Hudson altogether, circling around by way of 23B, 9H, 9, and 23 to approach the city from the south on 9G before making the turn into South Bay, we're still going to have gravel trucks rumbling through the city--passing houses and businesses on Green Street (and passing over those water mains that seem to cause DPW so many problems), passing a radio studio, a recording studio, music and arts venues, a county office building, houses, and businesses on Columbia Street en route to Third, crossing Warren Street at a major gateway intersection, and passing businesses and the Youth Center (and the future Senior Center) on Third Street on the way to South Bay. The quick solution is only a partial solution. Gravel trucks will be eliminated only from the three blocks of Columbia Street below Third and from Front Street between Columbia and Broad streets.                    


  1. Timothy O'Connor, from the South Bay Task Force, submitted this comment:

    Segmentation can also occur within a municipality, and usually does. The idea got fixed in Hudson that it only occurs between municipalities ever since we went down that road with Greenport. Put most succinctly:

    "segmentation is defined as the division of the environmental review of an action so that various activities or stages are addressed as though they were independent, unrelated activities needing individual determinations of significance."


    Now whether or not Connor's proposed law would technically commit a "segmentation" (it certainly would do so if this discussion was unequivocally taking place in the context of the GEIS), it is in the spirit of segmentation to split decisions which can be shown to place limitations on subsequent decision making which may or may not adversely affect the environment.

    To make a decision that locks O&G into using its new road would alleviate the responsibility of the Planning Commission, the DOT and possibly the Zoning Appeals Board from meeting their own SEQR responsibilities (at least if these reviews could determine that O&G cannot use their road, which it is not the Common Council's or our business to predict).

    If an ordinance requires that O&G must use only the causeway road, then any subsequent decision that said otherwise would thereby "take" the road and O&G's business from them. A legal taking can only be accomplished through eminent domain.

    The drafting of Connor's law must itself be measured against SEQRA, and possibly then declared a negative or a positive action. Do you suppose that anyone on the Council has considered this?

    The attempt to divorce the drafting of such an ordinance from a consequent locking-in of another agency's SEQR deliberations is so much in the spirit of segmentation that it may in itself pull the SEQRA trigger.

    From my standpoint, the sooner that trigger gets pulled the better.

  2. We have a weak and ineffective city government. That's the root of the problem.

  3. What spineless vision - kow-towing to a rich international corporation that is only interested in bullying - while this town plays victim - willingly.

  4. WGXC is the radio station you try to use to make a political argument! But WGXC believes in street noise, uses mics to pick up street noise. Your post is the equivalent of Ronald Reagan using "Born in the U.S.A." as a campaign song. Bring the noise! I am not commenting on the truck situation, but it is wrong to use a community radio station to buttress your political argument, especially when said radio station holds the opposite opinion of what you imply it has. WGXC is in favor of street noise. Please refrain from using WGXC as a political football in the future.

  5. Tom--I was hardly using WGXC as a "political football." I was merely noting some of the buildings and establishments that the gravel trucks will continue to pass even after there is legislation requiring them to use the route through South Bay.

  6. No, Carole, you were mentioning businesses not merely on the trail, but supposedly affected by the noise. It was a political argument, and no big deal, but to say you were merely listing places that happen to be along the street is wrong. You were listing places that you believed were negatively impacted by truck noise. Clearly, you were incorrectly using WGXC to make a political statement. Your response seems dishonest.

  7. Gee, Tom, I love your certainty that you know better than I do what my intention was. Given your obvious omniscience, I may as well just shut up. After this experience, I don't know any way to ensure that I will never unintentionally offend you in the future except to avoid ever mentioning or alluding to WGXC.

  8. Carole, you listed businesses you thought were affected by sound. You did not mention Vasilow or Operation Unite. If your intentions were otherwise you would be a bad writer, which I do not think you are. Gossips of Rivertown is a great blog, a wonderful community service, and provides another perspective on events in Hudson. I do not understand what the problem is here. Of you want to cop to bad writing, I'll give you a pass, but I don't think you are a bad writer. Mr Hirsch is on record that the truck sounds on Columbia St. negatively impact his business. You also mentioned WGXC because either you were positing the same, or bad writing. My whole point is, yes, do not mention WGXC when making political statements like that. You can put a media blackout on any subject you want, and your readers will be underserved and wonder about your judgement, so go ahead and ban WGXC from your pages like the Register-Star and Sam Pratt. We will still mention you no matter what because news does not hold grudges.