Friday, November 18, 2011

South Bay Zoning: 2009 and 2011

At the public hearing on November 10, Timothy O'Connor, representing the South Bay Task Force, argued that the zoning proposed in the 2009 version of the LWRP was on the way to providing greater protection for South Bay than the zoning that the Common Council is about to adopt. In the zoning proposed in 2009, all of South Bay became a Recreation-Conservation Zone and the roadway fondly known as the "causeway" was a nonconforming use.

In January 2010, Holcim/O&G submitted their comments during the public comment period. The zoning of South Bay was of particular concern to them, and here's what they had to say (boldface added): "The Plan proposes to rezone a significant portion of the Industrial (1-1) Zone to Core Riverfront Zone (CR) along the immediate waterfront and Conservation-Recreation Zone (R-C) for South and North Bays. The text is unclear as to the status of the causeway within the R-C district at the South Bay, although we interpret the intent to be that the use of the causeway for industrial transportation purposes will be considered a non-conforming use since the R-C zone will no longer allow industrial uses and it further implies that the use and related upgrading will require local permits. Holcim and O&G oppose this zoning proposal to treat the transport of materials by vehicle across the causeway as a nonconforming use of land. Nonconforming use status would greatly limit our ability to expand or change the use, e.g. transport by means of a conveyor system, and may even limit our ability to maintain a particular use given the onus placed on the property owner. Our suggestion is that either: (1) the CR district be extended to encompass the right-of-way of the causeway; or (2) the private transport of goods/public access across the causeway be added as a use as-of-right in the R-C district. . . ."

As a consequence of this suggestion from H/OG, we have the South Bay zoning currently being proposed. The Core Riverfront Zone has been extended, as requested, to encompass the length of the causeway, bisecting South Bay, which should be treated as a single ecological entity.

No official map has thus far been provided to show the width of the "causeway corridor" or to clarify what happens when the haul road takes a turn to the north and strays into other zoning districts on its way to the Broad Street railroad crossing, but the South Bay Task Force has created this visual. 

The South Bay Task Force stated its position in a My View that appeared in the Register-Star on  November 10--the day of the public hearing. Few, if any, on the Common Council seem to have read it or heeded it, but even though the public hearing is over and it looks likely that the Council will adopt the zoning changes at a special meeting on November 30, SBTF's My View is still recommended reading for people who want to understand what's been going on with the LWRP in the past two years, without community involvement or public consensus.


  1. Carole, do you know if any public comment will be entertained when the Council actually votes on this? That's Nov. 30? What is very odd -- though not surprising -- is the failure of the city to produce a zoning map showing the new zoning proposal. Since a zoning MAP is actually an official part of the zoning law, my is that the failure to make it available at the public hearing would be a violation of Article 78.... But thank you for reminding us that the proposed change was made in deference to a private company, giving lie to the city attorney's assertion that it was made because of "public comment."

  2. I rather doubt it. The opportunity for public comment is over. I wasn't at the public hearing, but I get the sense from people who were there that the Common Council President took it upon himself to refute comments that were made. If that actually happened, it was certainly inappropriate. The aldermen should have been listening to their constituents and trying to determine what was valid and true and in the best interests of Hudson's future.

  3. For the record, attorney Cheryl Roberts was not present at the public hearing.

    So when the Register Star allowed her to totally mischaracterize an argument made by several speakers at the hearing, our "newspaper of record" contributed to a whitewash.

    Over the course of a week I'd written two emails (brief) to the story's author, offering the Register Star the same maps which Carole has published here (free and unattributed, if that was what would have pleased them).

    The evening before the week-late story appeared I got an email from the author, but I wasn't informed of Roberts' gross mischaracterization.

    More importantly, I wasn't told by the journalist that it was the 11th hour before he finally asked if there was anything I'd like to say.

    I got right to the task, but by the time I had emailed the reply (circa 2 am) the irresponsible story was already published. (Notice that there have been no online comments allowed, though not for a lack of them.)

    We should all be extremely wary of the damage that this new author has already managed. He is shaping up to be our latest disaster.

    From the looks of their schmoozing at Council meetings, he may already be one of Mr. Moore's creatures, the first evidence just coming in. Some learning curve.

  4. The list of broken rules is still growing, but the clock is already ticking on the Statute of Limitations for the GEIS.

    The South Bay Task Force is preparing a further critique of a specific procedural oversight, which comment must be allowed by the Department of State because its contents were contingent on the results of a FOIL request made prior to the acceptance of the Final GEIS.

    (This is the stuff that a "newspaper of record" should also be covering, but we were fortunate to get that op-ed in anyway.)

    And once "the action" is engaged on November 30, before the DOS rejects the Common Council's Findings Statement, what then?

    The city's gamble is that enforcement of SEQRA - which falls to citizens - will never happen.

    So despite the steamrolling of the public and the multiple breaches of SEQRA, Roberts' and Moorescalera's fake mantra continues uninterrupted: that H/OG might sue the city.

    And when the South Bay Task Force asks how the company can sue over something they themselves suggested (see O&G's suggestion #2 in the Gossip's post above), the reply is predictably to a question that was not asked:

    “'The opinion was the zoning in 2009 was more protective than what you have right now, and that is not actually accurate,' said Roberts."

    These sneaky, evasive prevaricators are utterly contemptuous of the public they are sworn to serve.

    Their names should forever be associated with their deception, which is why the road-width zoning through the wetlands should forever be remembered as the "DMZ," the Don Moore Zoning.

    (Of course no one is entitled to know if the zone is truly only a road-width since there is no description of it anywhere. Rather than bang down the doors of City Hall on behalf of the ecology, we're too busy occupying Wall Street. I have a great idea: let's find out the answer only after they pass the law!)

  5. Nowhere did it mention in the Rag Star's article that the Valley Alliance provided a CD with 28 pages of comments to the Common Council before the public hearing, nor what the contents were. I am wondering if the Valley Alliance is going to take a stance after the inevitable vote to approve this sham of an LWRP?? Nor were my comments noted in spite of the fact that the reporter asked how to spell my name.