Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Inching Forward on the Haul Road

Last night, the Greenport Planning Board continued its review of the proposed Colarusso haul road. The board is still gathering information in preparation for making a positive or negative declaration in the SEQR process.  

Photo: Julie Metz
P. J. Prendergast, engineer for Colarusso, told the Greenport Planning Board, as he did the Hudson Planning Board a few weeks earlier, that to solve the problem of dust, they were going to pave the roadway through South Bay, and they would also pave the 200 feet from the end of the haul road to the southern end of Front Street. He asserted that the environmental consultants for Colarusso said "paving was a good idea." Those consultants apparently also suggested that a 15 mph speed limit be imposed on the haul road and that signs be erected to warn drivers not to run over snakes and turtles in the road, although Prendergast claimed the drivers would never run over a turtle. "They would stop the truck and hustle it out of the way."

Planning Board chair Ed Stiffler asked if the proposal to pave the road had been presented to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Prendergast confirmed that it had, saying there were "other people who have to look at it" but making the prediction that "they will think it's OK." He then declared: "If DEC says don't pave it, they're [i.e. Colarusso] OK with that; if DEC says pave it, they're OK with that." Stiffler indicated that the board needed something in writing from DEC.

Photo: South Bay Task Force
Ray Jurkowski, consulting engineer to the Greenport Planning Board, said that Trish Gabriel, the environmental analyst at DEC for our region, was drafting a letter in response to his correspondence, which he said "had to do with environmental issues, to assist the Planning Board in its SEQR determination." One of those environmental issues it seems were wetland grasses, about which Prendergast declared, "You can't kill wetland grasses; you can't even burn it." He went on to declare, "Anything they do will be an environmental improvement."

There were also unanswered questions about the volume of traffic on the haul road and the perceived intensification in recent years of industrial activity on the haul road and at the dock. Prendergast maintained that the increase of activity had to do with the recovery after the Great Recession, and it was not a trend that was expected to continue. Jurkowski reminded Prendergast that this information needed to be documented in writing.

It was decided that the letter from DEC was a critical component, as was Colarusso's written response about traffic. He then asked about the floodplain permit. Prendergast acknowledged that they hadn't received it yet, noting that Hudson Development Corporation, which must issue the permit, "hasn't done a floodplain permit since 1982," when the L&B building was constructed. 

It was decided that the board would hold a special meeting when the letter from DEC had been received. That meeting was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, July 11, at 6:30 p.m. Although the next step seems to be for the board to decide if they will make a positive or negative declaration, Stiffler stated that the board "will not be making a formal determination" at that meeting. A formal determination, said Stiffler, will be done only after the board's legal council has drafted a resolution making the declaration, and the board votes on it.

Two days after the Greenport Planning Board special meeting, the Hudson Planning Board is holding a public hearing on the alterations already completed at the dock. That hearing will take place on Thursday, July 13, at 6:30 p.m., at City Hall.


  1. Fifteen miles per hour...really? And who will be monitoring this spped limit? The only way to know drivers are complying is to give HPD and NYS Troopers access to ALL on board gps data from every truck for analysis every week. Otherwise, its a hollow promise.

  2. What is being proposed by Colarusso is a paved industrial highway through a tidal marsh that has been designated a Significant Coastal Fish & Wildlife Habitat, and which is also in the Core Riverfront Zoning District that was established by the Hudson Common Council in 2011. You would think that Colarusso would have hired a competent land use attorney to review those constraints BEFORE they bought the property in 2014.

    1. Perhaps I've misunderstood, but I believe the latest proposal is to pave the planned road rather than the existing road.

      The planned road was always proposed for the Recreational Conservation District.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Crito, your removed comment is greatly missed.

  4. If the company could explain exactly how its recovery from the recession occurred only in 2014, right around the time of the Holcim purchase, that would be helpful. Prendergast and Hefner were evasive at best in their response to publicly available data that shows a massive increase in man hours that correlates with the purchase of the Holcim property. Also, in 2010, Paul Colarusso stated to a trade journal -as quoted in a recent Register Star article- that the company planned to ship 200,000 tons of aggregate to market via the abandoned Lone Star rail plan. He termed this figure "crumbs," remember Colarusso did not own the Holcim quarry outright yet. They leased rights to mine. And now, 3 years after the quarry investment, they produce the current revised project narrative, which indicates a total tonnage shipment per year at somewhere around 100,000-150,000 tons (based on a Byzantine and shifting definition of trucks to the port and barge capacity). Are we to believe that Colarusso is planning on shrinking it's business? Are we so gullible to believe that they intend to shrink the amount of product they ship to market AFTER they invest to expand the infrastructure to ship from the port? They've certainly been working like busy beavers since the 2014 purchase as the data shows. Who knows what they want? Pat Prendergast has said repeatedly the company has "no plans to expand." That seems to not make any sense at all. But if you consider that the entire property is owned by Colarusso Ventures LLC, a real estate holding company, it makes sense. If I were a betting man, I'd wager they want to sell to a some other larger company after they expand their access to the port. Otherwise, their investment is a lemon. We need to hold the line.