Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Why It's Controversial

When Planning Board chair Tom DePietro called Colarusso's proposed haul road "controversial" during last Thursday's meeting, Planning Board members Carmine Pierro and Glenn Martin demanded to why. Pierro ridiculed those worried about the haul road by suggesting they cared more about the survival of some obscure wetland creature than they did about the well-being of Hudson residents. South Bay is indeed a wetland that merits protection, but the concern about the proposed haul road is more about how the City's laws are being flouted and City officials and members of its regulatory boards seem to be ignoring or actually enabling that apparent disregard.

On September 26, 2011, there was a special meeting of the Common Council on the subject of the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitialization Program) and the GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement) done in conjunction with the LWRP. At the end of this meeting, the Common Council voted to adopt the GEIS, but before that happened, city attorney Cheryl Roberts and Bill Sharp, senior attorney with the Department of State, spent the better part of the meeting--a meeting that lasted for an hour and forty-five minutes--explaining the impact of changing the zoning for the dock and the causeway from Industrial to Core Riverfront. Roberts characterized that zoning change and the change from Industrial to Recreational Conservation for the rest of South Bay as being "very protective of the environment." 

In the minutes from that meeting. which happened almost five years ago, Sharp makes the point that "a lot of things are permissible in an Industrial Zone that would not be permissible in an 'as of right' in the new proposed Core-Riverfront District." Sharp goes on to say, "The Core-Riverfront District would not allow a port use as a permitted use," noting that "immediately on the change from industrial zoning to the C-R zoning to the extent that the existing port use is a lawfully permitted use under the Industrial Zoning, it would actually become a non-conforming use under the C-R Zone." He explains the port use would be allowed to continue without modification of any of the structures, uses on the property and the causeway, but "should there be any changes to either a building on the property, or a new building being constructed, or changes to the roadway it will require that the owner get a conditional use permit, and there is an extensive list of requirements in the conditional use permit section for an existing commercial dock operation."

Speaking about the requirements for a conditional use permit, Sharp gives some examples: "hours of operation, levels of noise, dust or other obnoxious, bothersome uses that would be generated on site." He concludes, "There's a recognition that if there is going to be continued commercial dock operations down there, that they try to co-exist, and exist well with the other kinds of uses that are happening in the City of Hudson."

That night the Common Council passed a resolution adopting the final GEIS. At another special meeting on November 30, 2011, the Common Council passed a resolution amending the city zoning code to implement the zoning set forth in the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. South Bay became zoned R-C, Recreational Conservation, and the dock and the causeway--including that part of it that continues on the east side of Route 9G--became zoned C-R, Core Riverfront.

In spite of the fact that the Common Council was assured five years ago that "any . . . changes to the roadway . . . will require that the owner get a conditional use permit," earlier this year, the "roadway" going east from 9G was transformed from a rutted path to a gravel road capable of accommodating two-way dump truck traffic. Our code enforcement officer allegedly accepted this change as "routine maintenance" of an existing roadway.

Now there is a proposal before the Planning Board not only to widen the causeway going west from 9G, through South Bay to the river, but to move it several yards south. Not only has the term "conditional use permit" never been heard uttered by anyone on the Planning Board, but one member--Carmine Pierro, who once chaired the Planning Commission/Board--has stated his opinion that the proposal should be considered an amendment to a plan that was already approved by the Planning Board. It is not known when that approval was granted, but Gossips hasn't found any record of it in the minutes of the Planning Commission/Board, certainly not since the LWRP zoning was enacted in 2011.


  1. The City of Hudson has to step up to the plate and stop allowing Corporate interests from getting away with free reign. This is where the City attorneys should be consulted; Mitch Khosrova who is a Real Estate specialist, and very familiar with Real Estate litigation would be someone that should be consulted immediately, to find out exactly what can be done to address this situation.

  2. Bravo, Gossips.

    The question is, do the laws of Hudson apply to everyone equally, or are they only enforced against the weak?

    Mr. Pierro spent a lot of words pretending to defend the weak, mostly by mischaracterizing those who'd defend the zoning.

    But the either/or scenario he painted is a fake, a straw man. It's not ecology versus underprivileged neighborhoods, and nobody wants to shut down the mine.

    It's ironic that Mr. Pierro, that great champion of Environmental Justice, caused us to miss a crucial opportunity to reappraise truck traffic along the State Truck Route. That was in 2007, when he claimed we'd see fewer trucks as a result of Lowe's and Walmart being built.

    That was his reason why we wouldn't need a traffic study, and thanks to his argument, and of course to the City's weighted vote, we won't get that moment back.

    You can bet he'll be against a traffic study this time, too, but let's not forget how his loyalties have distorted his judgement in the past.

    We're not stuck with gravel trucks below 3rd Street, and widening the causeway has absolutely nothing to do with it. That's Mr. Pierro's false either/or, an attempt to divide and conquer.

    That's not going to work anymore. For one thing, and thanks to the new administration, the City has honest legal advisors.

    What we'll need now is more smart people; a proper traffic study under SEQR (we've never had a good one); and absolute respect for the existing Zoning Code.

  3. What's next regarding the Planning Board application?

    1. Presumably the Lead Agency will be determined, pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR).