Yesterday, on September 15, the DEC released its responses to the issues raised during a public comment period regarding the proposed project. The text of the DEC's response follows:
Issues Raised During Comment Period
Almost 50 comment letters and/or emails were received concerning Colarusso’s application during the public comment period, which began on October 21, 2015 and ended on November 13, 2016 [sic]. The following paragraphs summarize the issues that were raised during the public comment period, and the Department’s response to these comments as they relate to the proposed project and permit application review.
Questions were raised by some commenters as to whether the bank stabilization is actually necessary. Commenters indicated that their interpretation of historical aerial photographs showed no significant additional erosion occurring over the last several years, which led them to the conclusion that bank stabilization is not required along the proposed 170-foot length of Hudson River shoreline.
After conducting a field investigation, it is Department staff’s opinion that stabilization is necessary to avoid further damage to the shoreline at this location, especially given the trend toward increased intensity storms in NYS. Department staff also believes that habitat along the shoreline would benefit from the project. Currently, vegetation is not reestablishing along the eroded area because it appears that the substrate is not suitable and/or the slope is too severe. The project design includes placement of topsoil and a layer of geotextile under rock rip rap, and installation of live stakes that, once established, will enhance the habitat value of this section of shoreline. The woody vegetation was added to the stabilization design to provide a greater habitat value as a result of a recommendation in a public comment letter.
Potential adverse effect of project implementation on river ecology was the subject of several commenters concerns. As part of the review process, the applicant was required to evaluate the project for potential adverse impacts on Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus), which is a federally-listed endangered species and is protected in NYS, and shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), which is a federally- and state-listed endangered species, as well as essential fish habitat. An investigation of the project site and vicinity revealed an absence of important habitat features, such as deep water habitat, shallow mudflats and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds, which significantly reduces the potential for impacts to the two species identified above. Given these results, the Department has concluded that the project would have no adverse impacts on significant aquatic resources.
Whether the project work is located on Colarusso’s property or is actually on State-owned land, was raised by several commenters. Commenters were concerned that since the property was previously “lands under water” of the State of New York, ownership should have been conveyed to a private entity by way of a land grant. The property boundary represented on project plan along the Hudson River is based on a description contained in a Grant of Lands Under Water dated January 16, 1932. According to this boundary, both project components, the shoreline stabilization and the lateral side berth bulkhead replacement, are clearly located on Colarusso property. The Department conferred with NYS Office of General Services (OGS) and OGS concurred that no State-owned Lands Under Water permit is required for the project because the project work is proposed within property previously conveyed by legislative grants to a private owner.
Some commenters questioned whether the bank stabilization and bulkhead replacement was part of a larger project, or expansion and whether these repairs were segmented from part of a larger project. The repairs are necessary to prevent further damage as outlined above. The applicant has not applied for, or received approval for, an expansion of their facility, and the Department is not aware of any plans for expansion at Colarusso’s Hudson River dock location.