Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Curious Development

Six years ago, when The Gossips of Rivertown was just getting started, Holcim/O&G proposed creating a haul road, following the path of the old railroad bed from the waterfront to the quarry. The part of the road east from Route 9G to Route 9 was then before the Greenport Planning Board for review and approval. Exactly six years ago today, on January 28, 2010, Gossips published this report, which included the photograph below.

The project foundered, or so it seemed. Several months earlier, in October 2009, Cheryl Roberts, then city attorney for Hudson, had sent a letter to O&G, which at the time, in a lease agreement with Holcim, was extracting aggregate from Becraft Mountain and shipping it from the dock on the Hudson waterfront. The letter stated: "Though the City [of Hudson] has steadfastly maintained that O&G will require site plan approval from the City of Hudson Planning Commission prior to undertaking this action [i.e., "the construction of a roadway beginning in a mine owned by Holcim, LTD, in Greenport, New York, and terminating at the deep water port located in Hudson, New York"], the City Planning Commission has not received a permit application from O&G to date." The letter went on to warn 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)." The project never came before the Hudson Planning Commision (now the Planning Board), and, to Gossips' knowledge, it was never approved by the Greenport Planning Board.

Still, in the summer of 2011, two years after Roberts sent the letter, the road from 9G west to the waterfront was widen and improved, without the review and approval of the Hudson Planning Commission. 

Now, six years after the project was before the Greenport Planning Board, improvements have been made to the road going east from 9G--improvements that have happened within the past year, since the property has been owned by A. Colarusso & Son.

This may seem like Greenport's problem not Hudson's, but the first part of this road--what appears in the picture--is in Hudson not Greenport. The Hudson/Greenport line is about at the road's disappearing point in the photographs. What's more, this road is located in a part of the Waterfront Revitalization Area that has been designated a "Conservation District" in the City's Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

To Gossips' knowledge the plan to improve this abandoned railroad bed never came before the Planning Board for review and approval. How do these things happen?


  1. From the 2016 photograph, it appears the road has been expanded into an adjacent Zoning District. That's because the district the "road" is in already is defined by the width of the road. (Yeah, read that again!)

    The surrounding conservation district prohibits any such uses, while the language for the conditional uses within the road's Core Riverfront District was personally provided by William Sharp, the Principal Attorney for the NYS Department of State (DOS).

    The Zoning Code is very clear that proposed alterations to the causeway - even resurfacing - must go before the Planning Board.

    This latest action has also encroached on a DOS-designated Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat.

    Is this City so broken and inept? Do our laws mean nothing?

    Madame Mayor and the Planning Board, please get to the bottom of this.

  2. this has been worrisome for a long time.
    Call the mayor.

  3. What a marked difference. Thank you Gossips for reporting on this. It seems people forget very quickly and lines are blurred about 'zoning' and 'conservation' and the rules that go along with these things. Also even whether the road is in Greenport or Hudson, but from the map that portion is very definitely in Hudson. Our conservation areas must be protected so lets hope our new Mayor and Planning Board get on top of it.

  4. On September 26, 2011, William Sharp, the Principal Attorney for the NYS Department of State, sat before the Common Council and explained the changes he recommended for the City's Zoning Code in the South Bay. Two months later the Council adopted those changes, which are now the law.

    Here an audio of the discussion at the WGXC archive:

    Wm Sharp [1:08:02]: "If indeed [the landowner's use is] lawful under the existing zoning, they would become a lawful nonconforming use. They would not be able to enlarge or expand under the City's zoning. The existing zoning that you have does not permit expansions of nonconforming uses .... It would be at the point where something happens on the property, where the paving of the road - or the road needs to be regraded - if that's regraded, they're going to have to get a conditional use permit for the entire property. ..."

  5. Maybe the Hudson Police Commissioner would know something about it since he is a VP for Colarusso and Sons. Or maybe Colarusso's doesn't have to follow Hudson law because of it.
    What was the outcome to the logging of Hudson property?

  6. "Give them an inch and they will take a mile."

  7. Lower the high water mark, fill illegally and create more land. It's only incrementally illegal.

  8. If the city was like any other landowner, every yard of fill placed in the south bay could be matched with a yard removed from the north bay resulting in a net zero loss of high water line.

    As the first ward became land "richer" the second ward would (finally) be richer, with a deeper high water line.