Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Greenport Planning Board and the Haul Road

The Greenport Planning Board held a special meeting tonight about the proposed Colarusso haul road. The special meeting was called primarily because they were awaiting a response from Trish Gabriel at Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to some environmental concerns communicated to her by Ray Jurkowski, the engineer consultant to the Greenport Planning Board. In her response, which had since been received and was read aloud by Jurkowski, Gabriel recommended, among other things, that efforts be made to minimize impervious surface--an interesting comment in light of Colarusso's new proposal to pave the haul road through South Bay to minimize the dust generated by truck traffic. The DEC is still reviewing the proposal to pave the haul road. P. J. Prendergast, the engineer for Colarusso, noted that "technically what's there now is impervious surface" and declared, "To pave or not to pave is up to DEC."

Prendergast responded to comments from John Lyons, the environmental attorney representing the citizens' group Hudson for Hudson, by dismissing the documentation presented by Lyons about the increase in industrial activity since Colarusso acquired the property from Holcim in 2014 as "a misrepresentation that confused a lot of people."

The greater part of the meeting was taken up with Part 2 of the Full Environmental Assessment Form--Identification of Potential Project Impacts. Jurkowski began by explaining that Part 1 was prepared by the applicant, and Part 2 was the responsibility of the Planning Board. He then led the board through every item in the eighteen categories on the form, omitting the detailed questions for only three: Impact of Geological Features, Impact on Air, and Impact on Agricultural Resources. For each item, the board had the choice of responding "No, or small impact may occur" or "Moderate to large impact may occur." For every item, the board opted for the former: "No, or small impact may occur." The responses to several of the items--particularly in the categories of Impact on Aesthetic Resources, Impact on Open Space and Recreation, and Consistency with Community Plans--drew subtle negative reactions from the Hudsonians in the audience. When the board answered "No" to the statement "Projected traffic increase may exceed capacity of existing road network," an audience member muttered, "Broad Street." When the board answered "No" to the statement "The proposed action will degrade existing transit access," the same audience member said incredulously, "Twenty trains a day?" He was reprimanded for interrupting the proceedings. Planning Board chair Ed Stiffler told the audience, "As the project moves forward, there are mandatory public hearings," but he asserted this was a working session. The public was allowed to observe but not comment.

When the board had completed Part 2 of the EAF, Virginia Benedict, counsel to the Greenport Planning Board, said she wanted the minutes to reflect that all members of the board had been present at the special informational meeting held on April 18 and all of them had reviewed all the comments received. 

The board then agreed that Benedict would prepare a resolution based on the answers given on the EAF and another for the opposing position. The resolutions, which will determine if the Greenport Planning Board makes a positive or negative declaration about the proposed project in the SEQRA process, will be voted on at the Greenport Planning Board's regular meeting to take place on Tuesday, July 25, at 7:30 p.m. 


  1. To say that the Greenport Planning Board has consideration and sensitivity to actual planning and environmental impacts seems to be about as true as saying snorting uranium is good for you. Hudson needs to prepare to stick to our strength: the 2011 zoning. We hold the cards. The Haul Road expansion project is a ruse, a big "For Sale" sign. Colarusso is committed to the future of Hudson only as long as it takes a larger buyer to see just how lucrative a huge quarry connected to a private, expanded road to barge transportation network is to the corporate bottom line. Colarusso Ventures LLC, the title holder to the property and recent tax payer to the City sounds a lot like a real estate holding company, rather than a company interested in the ling term health of our community.

  2. Is Part I of the EAF, which is to say the applicant's portion of it, now complete?

    If the Lead Agency has accepted an unaltered Part I as complete, and after receiving meticulous public comments which corrected the applicant's insufficient answers, then the Lead Agency is fully responsible for the consequences.

    The City of Hudson should acquire and distribute Part I of the EAF immediately.

    It's possible that the Greenport Planning Board is now counting on litigation. If so, what's the strategy, and was it something discussed at the Planning Board's recent Executive Session?

    The members were not permitted to discuss potential litigation in Executive Session, but the FOILed Minutes of Greenport's meeting in their entirety read something like this:

    The meeting began at such-and-such a time, was attended by so-and-so, and was eventually concluded.

  3. It took years for us to amend our zoning. It was expensive in both money and time, costing countless hours by the City, the public, and Holcim US, Inc. (South Bay's previous owner).

    The result was an agreed-upon plan for a mixed-use waterfront. Now, only five years later, we're supposed to throw that away for the next owner who expected that its investment would be important enough to prevail over the City's hard-won plan? And just so the property is more attractive to the next buyer?!

    in 2016, the causeway was completed only by flouting the Zoning Code (by now we have a very clear picture what the company thinks about zoning laws).

    In 2017, the DOT approved the crossing designs at the two State routes. The company should finish this work immediately and then remove its traffic from City streets.

    This is what the existing zoning allows and even encourages. Instead, the company assumes that the City will make a zoning exception so that a new road can be built in the Recreational Conservation District.

    Why are we even discussing such a thing?

  4. I agree. Why are we discussing such a thing...beyond saying no? I don't know why we haven't. I must be missing something.

  5. Colarusso is defined as a 'non-conforming use' under city zoning law. The idea of the designation is that it's a noxious use out of synch with the long-term vision for the waterfront. Therefore, it makes no sense for the Council or the ZBA to approve anything that would lead to deeper entrenchment by the applicant.

    1. 1. At §325-17.1(D)(1), "any existing commercial dock operation may continue to operate as a nonconforming use ..."


      2. At §325-1(A)(5), the City is committed to the "gradual elimination of nonconforming uses."


  6. Confirming that this so called SEQR process is an attempt to do a runaround Hudson zoning.

    1. Yes, this is Greenport's circumvention of Hudson's Zoning Code.

      SEQR encompasses considerations of zoning generally, but where a proposal specifically requires an action that's prohibited by the zoning (e.g., a haul road in a Recreational Conservation District), then any SEQR requirements which attach to the overturning of the prohibition must be included in the proposal's single, overall review.

      If it turns out that the Greenport Planning Board has not altered Part I of the Environmental Assessment Form to show that Hudson's Zoning Board of Appeals is an "involved agency" (see "B. Government Approvals," EAF Part I), then the charge of circumvention will be probative.