Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Report from Tuesday's CAC Meeting

Last night, the Conservation Advisory Council gathered for its first meeting of 2017, with three of its seven members absent. The CAC, which defines its purpose as "to provide objectively researched guidance to the Common Council, and by extension to other city entities and the public, on issues with environmental implications," obviously has a role to play in the Planning Board's review of the proposed Colarusso haul road. Last night Tom DePietro, chair of the Planning Board, was present to discuss that role.

DePietro told the CAC that it was hard to determine a schedule for the review process. He noted that the Greenport Planning Board, which has been designated the lead agency for the SEQR process, has a "broad timetable for the process" but asserted that the large turnout of Hudson residents at its last meeting showed the Greenport Planning Board "they can't separate things; they can't do it without us." DePietro predicted that the haul road would not be discussed at the Hudson Planning Board's next meeting because he has established a policy that the board will not consider things that have not been submitted ten days prior to the meeting, and since he had not received any new material regarding the project, it would not be taken up at the Planning Board's next meeting, which will take place on January 12.

DePietro said Ray Jurkowski, the engineer who is consulting with the Planning Board on the proposed haul road, is "excellent," but continued, "As much as he knows about environmental engineering, the CAC needs to have input." Jonathan Lerner, who chairs the CAC, suggested there needed to be an "up-to-date environmental assessment from someone like Hudsonia." At the request of Scenic Hudson, Hudsonia did a study of South Bay in 2008. DePietro recommended that the CAC make a formal request to the Planning Board for such a study. Lerner said he would draft letter to both the Hudson Planning Board and the Greenport Planning Board asking that the SEQR process be delayed until a comprehensive environmental review can be completed.

At its meeting, the CAC also talked about street trees--in particular, plans for replanting trees on Front Street, where the existing trees, all ash trees, are threatened by the emerald ash borer. CAC member Dale Shafer presented a plan for interplanting new trees so that, when the ash trees succumb and must be removed, the street will not be bereft of trees.

The large brown dots in the image above indicate existing ash trees. The smaller dots--some yellow, some red--indicate the placement of new trees. (If you click on the image to enlarge it, you should be able to see those smaller dots.) According to Shafer, the new trees and the cost of planting them will be paid for by the Galvan Foundation.

CAC member Holly Gardner expressed concern that the plan assumed all the ash trees were doomed when it had been the opinion of some arborists who had inspected the trees that some of them might be treatable. She told her colleagues that she had recently learned that the Department of Environmental Conservation was making grant money available for urban forestry, money that could be used for treating the ash trees. CAC member Carol Smilie urged Gardner to go back to her notes and figure out which trees were the best candidates for treatment.


  1. I'm not sure why the ash trees in the City-owned, "Amtrak" parking lot are being overlooked. Is it because they're the treatable ones? I doubt it.

    We see sycamores dying on Front Street too, the hardiest of urban species, probably choked by the sidewalks.

    It's good for the Planning Board to get a rest from the haul road. Let the new members find their feet with other applicants whose plans and investments were frustrated by December's lack of a quorum.

    In the meantime, residents have FOILed the NYSDEC for the New York Natural Heritage Program's South Bay flora and fauna records. This was after the landowner's environmental consultant for the South Bay proposal didn't hear back from the NYNHP, and drew a hasty and wrong conclusion that there were no changes since the same outfit's previous shoddy effort in 2010.

    We expect to have our results in the next 12 days, and will share them with the City.

    1. To answer your first question, they are working from the 2007 tree inventory, which identified 22 ash trees in Hudson, all but two along Front Street and in the "urban renewal" part of Hudson. Why that inventory didn't include the trees in the Amtrak parking lot or some ash trees in the 1970s entrance to Promenade Hill, I do not know. The CAC talked about creating a team to go around the city to locate all the ash trees--on public property or on private property--but that never seemed to happen.

    2. Thanks for the clarification. I didn't realize we were going forward on the basis of previous half-efforts.

      For those who wish to be more current, consider that all of trees at the entrance to, and inside of, the giant "Amtrak" parking lot will soon be gone. (Again, that's City property.)

      It's going to look pretty bleak down there, so the sooner we plan for this eventuality the better.

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    4. Once the EIS is Final (providing there's a positive declaration pursuant to SEQR), it will provide all of the environmental parameters of the City's related zoning decisions. The City cannot add more environmental considerations later on.

      For that reason alone we're smart to be as clear as possible beforehand considering any and all potential environmental impacts.