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In a bound booklet of materials Pratt provided to committee members was the decision, handed down on April 19, 2005, by then NYS Secretary of State Randy Daniels, that brought to an end the proposal by St. Lawrence Cement to build a giant coal-fired cement plant in Greenport--a proposal that also involved industrial development at SLC's holdings on the Hudson waterfront. Pratt drew particular attention to a passage from the decision that made specific recommendations for what Hudson should do with its waterfront. Excerpts from that passage are quoted below:
The 1996 Hudson Vision Plan lays out the preferred future land use patterns for the waterfront. The plan states:
"The area defined as the 'waterfront', for purposes of this study, extends from South Bay to North Bay--south to north. . . ." (Hudson Vision Plan, p. 88). This area includes all of the SLC riverfront property.
The Vision Plan articulates the intent of the City in revising the existing zoning along the waterfront to include a mixed-use district:
The waterfront is currently zoned for industrial use.… The current zoning is far too broad and does not recognize the value of the waterfront as a historical, cultural, commercial and recreational resource for the City. The zoning classification also does not encourage the highest and best use of the land and thus reduces potential tax revenues to the City.
It is recommended a new "Waterfront Zone" be created that addresses the goals of the Vision Plan and the specifics of the Master Plan. The zone should be created immediately. To minimize conflict existing property uses could be grandfathered, but if they change ownership, the new owners would be subject to the new provisions. Permitted uses should include: recreation/open space, parking, residential (second story and above), retail, galleries, studios, office, restaurants, museums, outdoor markets, outdoor performances, street vending, marine stores, marine fuel and boat storage. Conditional uses could include: electronic transmission towers, public utility uses, transportation centers, railroad, ferry terminals. Accessory uses should include: signs, outdoor cafes. Prohibited uses should include: manufacturing, assembling, storing and processing products or facilities, outdoor storage of lumber, construction and building materials, contractor's equipment, trucks, vans, buses, retail or wholesale of vehicles or boats.
Building heights should be limited to 45 feet from ground elevation to ridge or parapet line. (Hudson Vision Plan, pp. 85-88)
Further, the Vision Plan states that the land now owned by SLC, "has good development potential for a variety of public and private uses. The City should try to secure an option on the land or should have a letter of understanding expressing its interest." (Hudson Vision Plan, p. 89) . . .
The uses expressed in the Vision Plan are also reiterated in the City's only adopted planning document, the 2002 Comprehensive Plan. This plan states that in changing portions of the industrial zoning to a new zoning district to promote a mixed use waterfront environment, "permitted uses should be a variety of water-dependent and water-enhanced activities such as marinas, public boat launches, restaurants, parks and residential uses. Design standards, similar to those recommended for downtown, should also be developed and incorporated for this district." (Hudson Comprehensive Plan, pp xiii-xiv) . . .
Based on this review of Hudson's past planning and implementation activities, it is clear the City's waterfront has been and will continue to be transformed from a private industrial waterfront to a public waterfront for boating, tourism, commercial and other compatible uses. These uses are in direct competition with SLC's proposed industrial riverfront facilities. Given the extreme limitation on space along the Hudson waterfront, this is not a suitable location for the proposed SLC industrial facilities and uses.For those unfamiliar with the Hudson Vision Plan, repeatedly referenced in the decision, it was the work of the Cavendish Partnership, planning consultants from Burlington, Vermont, who were hired in 1994, with a grant secured by the Hudson Opera House. The Vision Plan was the product of more than a year's worth of monthly public meetings, where people came together to craft their collective vision of what Hudson could be.
Eleven years after the Secretary of State's decision--indeed, twenty years after the Hudson Vision Plan was created--it is compelling to read again these excerpts from that decision and contemplate what has changed and what hasn't.
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