Thursday, February 12, 2015

Problems for the Planning Board

The Register-Star reports today that Don Tillson has resigned as chair of the Planning Board. Tillson served on the Planning Board, formerly the Planning Commission, since 1998, and his resignation comes at a time when the board and the City of Hudson are having to deal with a fairly sticky situation: a building--now complete--that was not constructed in the location that was approved by the Planning Board in its site plan review and that is 10 percent larger than the building that had been originally proposed and approved. 

The problem of the misplaced building, constructed to be a ceramics studio, came to public notice at the Planning Board's January meeting. At that time, Andy Howard, legal counsel to the Planning Board, advised that the board needed to do a new site plan review, as if the project, now complete, were just coming before them. If the board determined that the building could be approved as it exists, a certificate of occupancy could be issued; if they could not approve it, it might have to be moved.

At last night's Planning Board meeting, the new site plan review began and went on for a full hour. At one point, Planning Board member Cleveland Samuels expressed frustration with rehashing issues of building use. "Why are we discussing all this stuff," he asked, "when the problem is the location of the building?" 

When someone on the board made reference to the plan, mentioned at the January meeting, to demolish the little building that is the location of Enterprise Car Rental, Frank Roche, attorney for the property owner, assured the board, "We are not going to tear down Enterprise Rental in the foreseeable future. We're here because we screwed up." Notwithstanding that statement, Neil Pelone, the architect for the building, maintained, "We were under the impression that we were in communication with the City throughout [the process]." The representative of the City with whom they were in communication seems to have been Craig Haigh, the code enforcement officer, but it seems that it wasn't discovered that the building was being constructed in the wrong place until it came time to issue a certificate of occupancy.

Howard, counsel to the Planning Board, requested a "chance to review the data against code," and Planning Board member Glenn Martin expressed the desire to "examine all the documents" before a public hearing is held. The Planning Board also requested additional information: a lighting study "to determine how ambient lighting might affect the neighborhood" and a report from the Department of Public Works on how waste water from the ceramics studio enters the city sewer system. Planning Board member Cappy Pierro asked if there was any money in escrow to pay for specialists the Planning Board might have to hire.

The review of the project will continue at the Planning Board's next meeting on Wednesday, March 11, after which a public hearing may be scheduled. At some point along the way, Mayor Hallenbeck will have to appoint someone new to chair the Planning Board. 


  1. "[I]t wasn't discovered that the building was being constructed in the wrong place until it came time to issue a certificate of occupancy."

    Huh? This construction was fully visible from Green Street, the most heavily used street in Hudson, over a period of months. If you move even 20 feet to the right of the point from which that picture of the Enterprise car rental building was taken, you see it looming in the background. Where was Haigh?

    1. that's a good question. Is code enforcement only enforced after completion?
      And the members of the planning board?
      Did they forget what they approved?
      How can you be "under the impression" of being in communication?

  2. In all fairness, Craig Haigh has just taken on the huge job of making Code Enforcement legitimate ... its a big town with much catching up to do.

  3. That ugly building looks terrible where it is. Ugh.