Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Dock and the Haul Road

On Thursday night, as expected, the Planning Board began its review of the already completed alterations to the dock.

In his presentation of the project, Pat Prendergast, engineer for A. Colarusso & Sons, used before and after photographs of the bulkhead that had been part of the amicus brief submitted to the Zoning Board of Appeals by the South Bay Coalition. He acknowledged the source of the photographs, explaining they were pictures "Timmy" had taken "from his rowboat," referring to Timothy O'Connor. He stressed the conscientious pains taken in carrying out the project by saying the Department of Environmental Conservation had required them to do a study of the nesting habits of the short-nosed sturgeon, which they did. He also alleged that the aesthetic impact of the new bulkhead was only from Rick's Point, although in fact the dock is more visible from the path along the water's edge in the main section of riverfront park.

Prendergast told the board, "Some people are of the opinion that this is part of an expansion," and denied that was the case, asserting that the work had been done only for public safety. JR Heffner, vice president of operations for Colarusso, stated, "We do not use that side section [of the dock] for work." 

When Prendergast had finished his presentation, Tom DePietro, Planning Board chair, asked for a motion to accept the application. That done, he proposed that there be a public hearing. He then read aloud from Chapter 325-17.1 D (1) of the city code, the part that pertains specifically to the action taken at the dock:
Any existing commercial dock operation may continue to operate as a nonconforming use until such time as one or more of the actions or events specified in Subsection D . . . is proposed to be undertaken. Where one of the actions or events . . . is proposed . . . the Planning Board shall impose additional conditions on such use as may be necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents living in close proximity to commercial docks and the public while recreating and using public facilities adjacent to commercial docks as authorized in the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.
(The ZBA determined on May 9 that the work done at the dock was one of actions or events specified in Subsection D.) DePietro explained that the code defined "the very limited purview for the public hearing." The members of the Planning Board agreed that there would be a public hearing on the issue at the board's next meeting, which will take place on July 13.

The consideration of the dock issue was over for that meeting, but Prendergast wanted to present new information about the haul road: alterations to the plans made in response to issues raised by David Clouser, the engineer from Barton & Loguidice who is consulting with the Hudson Planning Board on the project. Prendergast announced that, to eliminate dust and solve the problem of run-off into the wetland, the haul road through South Bay would be paved, with a grass buffer strip on either side, all the way from Route 9G to South Front Street. They also planned to put up "turtle and snake warning signs" for the truck drivers and impose a 15 mile an hour speed limit.

DePietro said the board would hold its questions about these mitigation proposals until the next meeting because they needed to digest the new information. The public was then asked to leave so that the Planning Board could have an "advisory discussion under attorney-client privilege" to seek counsel from the board's attorney, Mitch Khosrova, on how to proceed in dealing with the two Colarusso applications.


  1. Give them an inch and they will take a mile .

  2. I so admire your pithiness, Vincent, spot-on as ever.

    Last summer Mr. Heffner acknowledged to the Greenport Planning Board that his employer would "ultimately" like to pave the entire haul road with asphalt. With that in mind, it's surprising that this latest solution wasn't suggested earlier.

    But consider the timing and what's glossed over. Because we're now talking about this into a second summer, the entire proposal increasingly looks like a serious and reasonable plan. It isn't.

    What the applicant needs residents to forget is that the plan is still to build a commercial haul road in the City's Recreational Conservation Zoning District!

    Is anyone so daft to believe that an offer to now pave this proposed road would mitigate the outlandishness of the proposal itself? Probably those whom P.T. Barnum relied on as customers, but nobody else.

    What's authentically game-changing (since January) is the conclusion of a now-redundant argument that the haul road proposal is the only way to remove aggregate trucks from the lower city. The argument has now lost all traction as a justification, even to the point that a review by the City of the applicant's past concerns for Environmental Justice is overdue.

    By coincidence, it was also in January that Planning Board member Carmine Pierro provided a heart-breaking catalogue of the company's overriding civic concerns:

    As for the bulkhead, "the process of handling the review of the already completed dock project" can be condensed into the levying of a fine. The Code is specific about the amount, which is probably less than a morning's work by the company's attorney, Mr. Privitera.

    It shouldn't present a problem for any party if and when the City continues to handle the matter according to local laws.