Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Little Background

On Wednesday, Gossips reported on the comments from the Hudson Planning Board and the Columbia County Planning Board about the proposed zoning amendment that would change the zoning for three parcels on the west side of Hudson Avenue from I-1 (Industrial) to R-S-C (Residential Special Commercial). Although acknowledging that it had no jurisdiction in the action, since the amendment had no "significant county-wide or intercommunity impacts associated with it," Columbia County Planning Board made a few comments, one of them being a caution that in making this zoning amendment the City would be giving up some of its "land available for job creation and/or retention."

The letter, which was signed by CCPB chair, Timothy Stalker, inspired curiosity about the Columbia County Planning Board and who served on it. The information is not available on the Columbia County website. It seems the only way to find out who serves on the CCPB is look at the minutes of board meetings, the most recent available being from August 2016. The members--present and absent--are listed at the top.

The only board member readily recognized as being someone from Hudson is vice chair Arthur Koweek. Koweek has a long history with planning for Hudson. Koweek was chair of the Hudson Planning Commission in the 1960s and '70s, during urban renewal days. In 1984, Koweek was chair of the Hudson Community Development Office, which was spearheading the effort to site an oil refinery on the Hudson waterfront. Koweek considered the refinery "a matter of economic survival for Hudson," and was famously quoted in an article in Hudson Valley magazine for December 1984 as saying of our waterfront and the Hudson River, "It's an industrial area. Let them go out of town to get access to the river. How much access is there now? There haven't been 50 people down there. . . It's not a recreational river. It's to move raw materials."

To put things in context, these comments were made in 1984. Almost twenty years earlier, in 1966, Pete Seeger founded the organization Clearwater, and in 1969 the replica Hudson river sloop Clearwater was launched, to "bring people to the river where they could experience its beauty and be moved to preserve it."

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