Wednesday, June 29, 2016

About the Proposed Haul Road to the River

On Tuesday night, the Greenport Planning Board declared itself lead agency in the review of the haul road proposed by A. Colarusso & Son, from their facility on Newman Road to the waterfront in Hudson. Apparently, that's not the end of it. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation could decide the Greenport Planning Board is not the appropriate lead agency, or the DEC could decide to make itself lead agency.

The decision by the Greenport Planning Board reminds us that at the last Hudson Planning Board meeting, chair Tom DePietro expressed the opinion that the Greenport Planning Board should be the lead agency because "they had a paid engineer on their board." Soon after Gossips reported this on June 13, Ed Nabozny, supervisor for the Town of Greenport, contacted Gossips to deny that there was a paid engineer, or indeed any engineer, on the Greenport Planning Board. Instead, he explained, "We contract with Morris Associates, a professional engineering firm, as a liaison between the planning board applicants and the town to assure all criteria are met and in compliance with government regulations." For this service, the Town of Greenport pays Morris Associates on an hourly basis. The engineer from that firm who currently sits with the Greenport Planning Board during their monthly meetings is Ray Jurkowski.

Relevant to the whole situation of the haul road, which passes through an area of Hudson zoned R-C, "Recreational Conservation," is this paragraph (and probably others as well) from Hudson's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. This one is found on page 14.
This Area [the Southern Waterfront Area] offers important opportunities to gain long desired public access to and views of the riverfront. Working cooperatively with Holcim, the City plans to enter into an agreement with Holcim to transfer title of the South Bay, excluding the causeway, to the City or a nonprofit land conservation organization, subject to a public easement over the South Bay causeway to allow public pedestrian and vehicular traffic over the causeway. The agreement would also transfer to the City a conservation easement on the causeway to allow the easement holder the right to undertake measures to restore the South Bay, such as through the maintenance of existing, or the introduction of additional, culverts or construction of other physical alterations to the causeway that would increase water flow in the South Bay while not jeopardizing the structural integrity of the causeway. This agreement, would also encompass transfer of the 7 acres of riverfront property located in the Core Riverfront Area and will allow for the development of significant public recreational amenities on the riverfront as well as recreational, research, and flood water management and control opportunities in the South Bay.
One cannot help but imagine that the situation with Colarusso's current proposal for the haul road might be different if previous administrations had not dropped the ball in getting the LWRP, which. though flawed, was adopted by the Common Council in 2011, approved and implemented.


  1. The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently confirmed that state governments cannot deny public rights to boat and fish on the waters within a state, “divesting all the citizens of a common right. It would be a grievance which never could be long borne by a free people.” The Court held that state governments must maintain the public’s “common liberty” to boat and fish in shallow rivers, including stretches adjacent to private land. The Court said that these waters must be “held as a public trust for the benefit of the whole community, to be freely used by all for navigation and fishery.” (Google Martin v. Waddell 1842 to see the decision.) - See more at:

  2. On May 27, a long list of people got an email from Mayor Hamilton expressing "concern" about the language of the Colarusso proposal, saying that things are at "the very beginning of this process," and that, "at the very least, [Colarusso] will need to submit an amended EAF."

    The mayor's email was in response to a detailed paper which explained that the proposal and its Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) simply ignored the City's zoning requirements.

    In the last month, Colarusso did amend its EAF, but according to the Greenport Planning Board there was no change made to the false claim that the proposal is permitted by the zoning.

    After a whole month, how can this have happened?! What could be simpler than telling the applicant, "Change your answer from Yes to NO."

    EAF Part I, question 5 asks, "Is the proposed action [a] permitted use under the zoning regulations?"

    Of course it is NOT permitted. That's what the LWRP Zoning was all about, which took years to hammer out! (Yes, the LWRP itself is merely adopted, but the LWRP Zoning is now the City's Zoning Code. It's the law.)

    The Colarusso proposal isn't permitted because it seeks to expand (and even move!) a "nonconforming use," which is the causeway itself, a "commercial dock operation."

    §325.17.1(D)(1), Core Riverfront District: "Any existing commercial dock operation may continue to operate as a nonconforming use ...",riverfront#16031827

    §325-29(A): "Any type of nonconforming use ... may be continued indefinitely, but: (1) Shall not be enlarged, extended or placed on a different portion of the lot or parcel of land ...",nonconformity#5082662

    We're no longer at "the very beginning of this process," thanks to the City's dithering. Never mind previous administrations, why has this administration failed to have the EAF amended to reflect the LWRP Zoning?

    Now Greenport is moving ahead because it deemed a flawed EAF to be sufficient and complete for its own purposes. Why should Greenport care about Hudson's zoning if Hudson doesn't even care?

    So here's the schedule based, in part, on the City's failure to have the EAF amended:

    "The selection of lead agency must be accomplished within 30 calendar days of the date that the completed Part I of the EAF and other application materials were sent to the other involved agencies."

    Because the City failed to act in the last month, the public was forced to bring this and other serious matters (e.g., stormwater control) to the attention of the Greenport Planning Board on Tuesday.

    Unfortunately, Greenport is not interested, and the public was instructed to remain silent.

    This is a serious failure all around, happening today, right now. Hudson residents deserve an explanation. (The mayor is not returning my phone call.)

    1. Yesterday I was told by a third party that the mayor is preparing to address the erroneous zoning claim on the mining company's Environmental Assessment Form (EAF).

      But because Greenport is moving ahead based on the uncorrected EAF, and because the Greenport Planning Board feels that, in any event, the City's South Bay is more Greenport's business than Hudson's, the role of Lead Agency for the environmental review is suddenly very controversial.

      On Tuesday evening, when the public attempted to inform Greenport that State-required stormwater permits weren't sought or obtained for work the applicant already conducted on the same project earlier this year (work which Greenport evidently regards as a fait accompli for one of its largest employers), the Greenport Planning Board was so uninterested in hearing about it that they shut the speaker down. Perhaps the speaker should not have announced he was from Hudson.

      In circumstances like this, the Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) will often serve as Lead Agency. However, it's likely this must be requested by one of the municipalities, which may require residents to request it of their local leaders.

      We can pretty much guess what Greenport thinks about all this, so Hudson should not waste another minute waiting upon its self-interested neighbor. If the NYSDEC doesn't get a call from City Hall on Monday morning, then the South Bay is in serious trouble.

      To be fair to Greenport, its Planning Board had no information before it about Hudson's actual zoning requirements, and obviously zero curiosity to learn about it. For Greenport, the project sponsor's word - though wrong - was good enough.

      But we know the applicant's EAF is wrong, and that it's also wrong for Greenport to do an environmental review of our South Bay.

      It was time to contact the NYSDEC on Wednesday morning, immediately after the Greenport meeting.

      If the City fritters away even more precious time, then residents can and should contact the NYSDEC themselves. And the more the merrier if it turns out that Hudson was kowtowing to Greenport along.

      NYSDEC Region 4 office (permits):

      (518) 357 - 2069.

      It would have been nice to hear from the mayor on this, but evidently that's not going to happen. In that case, residents will take the bull by the horns no matter who gets in the way.

  3. One rule for the favorite at shore, another for the county man with rod, reel and steel.