Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Where Does It End?

At the Greenport Planning Board meeting last night, Mitch Khosrova, counsel for the Hudson Planning Board, expressed concern that the two planning boards were not "on the same page" about the haul road proposed by A. Colarusso & Sons. The issue over which there is disagreement has to do with the scope of the proposed haul road and its environmental impact, and it is a significant one for Hudson.

On December 22, Khosrova wrote a letter to the Greenport Planning Board. In it, he outlines the concerns of the Hudson Planning Board about the proposed Colarusso haul road for "your use/consideration during your SEQRA review of this application." The first concern is traffic. On this topic Khosrova writes: "Broad Street is a local City of Hudson roadway that is utilized extensively by the public for vehicular and pedestrian access to the City of Hudson waterfront park. Has the applicant investigated alternatives for the proposed truck route, including but not limited to the installation of a new rail crossing to provide a more direct route from the causeway to the existing dock and eliminating the need to utilize Broad Street? This would result in a completely separate and dedicated travel way for all truck traffic associated with operation and avoid the use of local public roadways (other than state crossings) all together, and thus reduce the potential unsafe environment for pedestrian traffic along Front Street and Broad Street."   

Later in the letter, Khosrova explains Hudson zoning in the area of the dock and the haul road:
Pursuant to section 325-17.1 (d) of the City of Hudson zoning code, no improvement shall be constructed, altered, paved, or improved, in whole or in part in the Core Riverfront C-R district without the approval of the City Planning Board. The applicant has recently undertaken improvements to the existing dock without obtaining any approvals from the City of Hudson. Since the existing dock is a vital part of the overall mining/hauling project, and in order to avoid the potential of segmentation issues associated with the SEQRA review, the City of Hudson has previously requested that the applicant submit an application for the dock improvements. The application shall contain all correspondence, documentation, permits and approvals from other involved agencies. These documents should also be entered into record with the Lead Agency so that a complete review of the project as a whole, as well as its smaller segments, can be reviewed in order to determine any cumulative impacts. In order for the City to determine the project's conformance with current City of Hudson Zoning, the applicant shall also provide data, information, and correspondence regarding the scale of the dock operation as of the adoption of the City of Hudson Local Law 5-2011, pertaining to the continued operation of a non-conforming use within the Core Riverfront C-R zone.
In a comment made on the previous Gossips post, "unheimlich" suggested that the Greenport Planning Board's response to Khosrova's concern indicated that they had not read the letter. But it's possible to see this in a different way. When Ed Stiffler, chair of the Greenport Planning Board, requested confirmation from Pat Prendergast, Colarusso's engineer, about where the project ended, it might be seen as an indication that he had read the letter and was prepared to disregard the concerns that were beyond the actual western terminus of the proposed haul road. If this is the case, the Greenport Planning Board, in its SEQR determination, may not be looking at environmental impacts of the proposed haul road on the southern end of Front Street, at the Broad Street crossing, or at the dock--significant areas of concern for Hudson.


  1. The Citizens of Hudson need to decide on which route the Colarusso trucks will use to travel from Greenport to the dock area on the Hudson River.
    Presently via the City streets, NY State Highway designate Truck Route, or the haul road.
    Unfortunately, it is not that easy to decide.
    I hope all involved keep a level head & be open to accept the facts presented.
    It is most important that the truth be told.
    And are there any alternatives to be considered?
    Is it possible that an enclosed conveyor system be used as part of the gravel transfer to the waterfront dock? The former Atlas Cement Co. did make use of a conveyor system to transfer stone from the Newman Road area quarry to their plant. The enclosed conveyor was above the
    Did the Atlas also transport cement powder into a large hopper type structure (near the western end of the haul road) across the RR tracks to the waterfront?

    1. Yes, it's the citizens of Hudson who need to decide. Thank you!

      Of course anyone can always use the State truck route through the City, which has been there a long time by our own request. A. Colarusso and Son, Inc. has acknowledged that it will continue to use it, but I don't think we know if their continuing use will be restricted to times when conditions are bad on the proposed road.

      At this point, any alternative route to the waterfront must use the South Bay causeway. That's an immutable fact. But use of the causeway is not the issue.

      The issue is whether, "in order to get the trucks off the [other] City streets," the landowner suddenly gets to have two lanes of travel on the causeway, with everything that implies.

      In those circumstances, an expansion of operations is inevitable (if not already planned), which was the very thing the City sought to limit in its 2011 zoning amendments.

      Just consider that the Principal Attorney of the NYS Department of State personally drafted those sections of our Zoning Code which aimed to limit potential intensifications of any and all dock operations. And now, only five years later, we're being asked to throw away those hard-won achievements. (Her we must take care that the calls we're hearing to scrap the 2011 zoning don't bring about the same result.)

      For many of us, Environmental Justice is our first concern. I myself live in the City's "Potential Environmental Justice Area."

      But what in the world does getting trucks out of the lower City have to do with an expansion of mining operations? There's no connection, and any either/or arguments we're hearing are simply dishonest.

      All concerned must be able to differentiate the following: That establishing two-way use of the causeway does NOT imply two lanes of travel.

      To know the difference is to know there's only one solution which serves everyone's interests (though there are still alternatives to consider where the causeway meets Rte. 9G, either for turning or crossing over to a restored single lane of traffic on the east causeway).

      This is the only solution which honors all of the following:

      • the landowner's rights, by which it continues to transport its very fine product to the port.

      • our "environmental justice" rights, which includes issues of health, safety, and quality of life.

      • an acceptable, proportionate scale of industrial uses at a mixed-use waterfront, as written and talked about endlessly from the 1996 Vision Plan (and before), to NYS Secretary of State Daniels' decision in 2005, to the 2011 LWRP zoning amendments.

      • the cumulative wishes and wisdom of all those who came before us, all of whom struggled to strike a balance between many competing interests at the waterfront.

      And after all of that, after years and years of argumentation and planning, how did we nail down this balance of competing interests? In the end, all parties engaged to codify our respective interests and intentions in statutory zoning laws. And everyone lost something, which is the cornerstone of any stable agreement.

      If years later we choose to ignore our own laws ... well, why do we choose to ignore them?!

  2. It's certainly possible that Mr. Khosrova's concerns about "segmentation," as presented in his fine letter to Greenport, provided the context from which Chairman Stiffler asked the project engineer, Where does the project end?

    Perhaps I'm mistaken in giving Mr. Stiffler credit for knowing what the State Environmental Quality Review Act is, and for that matter, what the word "environment" means under SEQRA.

    "Environment means the physical conditions that will be affected by a proposed action, including land, air, water, minerals, flora, fauna, noise, resources of agricultural, archeological, historic or aesthetic significance, existing patterns of population concentration, distribution or growth, existing community or neighborhood character, and human health." (§617.2(l)).

    But if the Greenport Planning Board doesn't know these things, then it had better find out pretty quick. The failure to address Mr. Khosrova's legitimate and important concerns about segmentation would commit a grave error in the SEQR process.

    On the other hand, segmentation is all the rage with irresponsible public servants these days.

    When we challenged the Governor himself to address ownership irregularities with the underwater lands for the planned revetment, first we received an account of a "legislative grant" which never actually occurred (seriously, the DEC actually provided us with the name and date of a phony, nonexistent document!), and later the DEC claimed to have no knowledge of any expansion plans at the Colarusso wharf.

    But isn't that a fundamental point of SEQR, to know what the whole proposal is? Otherwise, how else can you know its environmental impacts?

    As with the fake Legislative document, the Lead Agency determination, and the implicit segmentation in the following statement, the DEC Region 4 office is repeatedly failing the City's interests:

    "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."

  3. Hudson needs to do an economic analysis of the Colarusso proposal. At this point it is not clear exactly how the City benefits from having new traffic lights at both of its major arteries into town, a truck route through an important wetland, trucks passing near business venues on the waterfront, many trucks passing over a dangerous rail crossing that serves 28 trains daily, and piles of rock product being dumped immediately adjacent to the new waterfront park. That amount of downside impact needs to be counter-balanced by a huge amount of economic upside in the form of new jobs and enhanced revenue, otherwise it makes no sense. We ought to find out if gravel and other stone products generate any sales tax for the city and county-- it might be that sales tax is only paid by the ultimate end user. In that case the upside of the Colarusso activity becomes even harder to see insofar as it impacts Hudson.

    1. If I may be permitted to quote myself from 2013:

      "I agree emphatically Gizmo."

  4. If it is determined that the haul is going to happen, would it be in the city's best interest to find an environmental compromise. Could larger culverts be made under the road to allow better water flow, could Colarussu fund phragmite eradication in the area, or fund the creatation of protected natural habitat areas and Elevated Marsh Walkways for explorarion. Some type of compromise that will benefit everyone?

    1. Before any compromises of that nature can be considered, the landowner has to acknowledge the existence of the culverts. Amazingly, they're not in the site plan and not in the Project Narrative.

      The landowner must address the issue of the South Bay culverts. For example, is it possible that the two, old underground pipes may be impacted by the new weights expected above?

      I believe there will be stressful days ahead for those who ducked the issue.