Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Haul Road Before the CCPB

As Gossips reported, the proposed Colarusso haul road was on the agenda of the Columbia County Planning Board on Tuesday night. Gossips wasn't at the meeting, choosing instead to be at City Hall for the Common Council meeting. Since then, I have spoken with two people who were at the CCPB meeting, and my report was based on the information they shared.

The CCPB's consideration of the project began with P. J. Prendergast making his now familiar presentation of the haul road, stressing its promised benefits to the City of Hudson resulting from rerouting trucks and taking them off city streets. As he has before, he dissed Rick's Point, which he considers to be a parking lot for riverfront park, as being totally unimproved, just dirt, and the real source of dust in the waterfront area. He was corrected by CCPB member (and Hudson resident) Robert Rasner, who told him the surface at Rick's Point was compacted gravel. Interestingly, Prendergast has added a new claim to his presentation: that it says "right in the City's DRI," referring to the City of Hudson's DRI" (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) application, that the City supports the proposed project, citing this sentence: "City officials and neighboring business owners support the expansion of Colarusso."

In advance of the meeting, Patrice Perry, senior planner for Columbia County, had forwarded materials to the members of the board which, when printed out, constituted a document that was more than an inch thick. It was Prendergast's project narrative, written in December 2016 and revised in February 2017, which includes in its appendices such things the traffic study done by Creighton Manning, the completed long environmental assessment form, and the project narrative for dock repairs. At the meeting, Perry presented the board with another document, a ten-page assessment of the project, which she proceeded to read aloud. The document analyzed the project in terms of eight considerations: (a) compatibility of various land uses with one another; (b) traffic generating characteristics of various land uses in relation to the effect of such traffic on other land uses and to the adequacy of existing and proposed thoroughfare facilities; (c) impact of proposed land uses on existing and proposed county or state institutional or other uses; (d) protection of community character as regards predominant land uses, population density, and the relation between residential and nonresidential areas; (e) drainage; (f) community facilities; (g) official municipal and county development policies, as may be expressed through comprehensive plans, capital programs or regulatory measures; and (h) such other matters as may relate to the public convenience, to governmental efficiency, and to the achieving and maintaining of a satisfactory community environment. It concluded by making the recommendation that the board approve the project for these reasons:
The proposed improvements to this private road for use by trucks hauling gravel from the mine in the Town of Greenport to the City of Hudson, will allow for the removal of truck traffic from the NYS designated truck route through local roads and state highways in the Town of Greenport and the City streets of Hudson. The overall result will be a positive impact through the reduction of truck traffic, through the Town of Greenport and the City of Hudson.
The use of this road through private property will likely increase the efficiency of the gravel transport operation from the Greenport mine to the City of Hudson, a positive economic impact for this an established enterprise in Columbia County.
These road improvements support the goals of the Columbia County development policies to encourage balanced economy through business development and expansion and retention of existing business.
Rasner, who had himself studied all the documents presented, asked if his fellow board members had done the same. None had. He then urged that, since the board had thirty days to act on this referral from the Greenport Planning Board and twenty-three days remained, they hold off voting to give members time to study the issue. In this, he had the support of only one other member of the board, Cheryl Gilbert, who is from Kinderhook. One board member told him, in effect, "You may be interested in this, but I'm not. I'm willing to follow the recommendation of staff"--staff being, it seems, Patrice Perry.

The vote went forward, with members of the Columbia County Planning Board voting 5 to 2 to approve the project. The two dissenters were Rasner and Gilbert.

This referral to the Columbia County Planning Board is a part of the Greenport Planning Board's site plan review of the segment of the proposed haul road located in the Town of Greenport. The Hudson Planning Board will also be making a referral to the CCPB as part of its review of the segment of the haul road that is in Hudson.


  1. Pendergrast was pushing hard on the narrative that DRI funds were tied to approval of the project, as discussed elsewhere in Gossips. Michael Chameides correctly pointed out any mild DRI endorsement carries no weight, but the line seems like it will be troubling us for awhile.

  2. "Allow for the removal of truck traffic from the NYS designated truck route"?!

    The company already announced at a Meeting of the City Planning Board (possibly in February) that it will continue to use the State truck route through the City as it pleases.

    So which statement is true?

    Is there anyone who believes that the members of the County Planning Board who voted to support the proposal care in the least about Hudson? They're probably all shareholders in the private company. They certainly behave like they are.

    1. unheimlich--I didn't include this in the post, but apparently Bob Rasner pressed Prendergast on this very issue and got him to state that they would only use the state truck route in cases of emergency, when the haul road was flooded or unplowed or whatever.

    2. Well then, thank you Mr. Rasner.

      It's hardly the only question the Greenport Planning Board failed to ask, ditto the County Planning Board which didn't even study the proposal, but it's good to know that the SEQR review didn't count for everything even though that's its whole purpose.

  3. The language in the DRI affects the political atmospherics, which is a big deal. When appearing before boards, agencies, and in court, the company will use those phrases to advance their agenda.

  4. From the Greenport Planning Board's "EAF Narrative," here's the sort of thing that the County Planning Board couldn't have been bothered to consider:

    "It is the opinion of the Greenport Planning Board that the causeway and existing haul road have been in existence prior to 2011. During the Town of Greenport's review process, the applicant has presented historic aerial photographs indicating that the existing causeway was in existence for over 100 years."

    The only relevant question in this case, one which the two above sentences glide right passed, is whether or not the haul road itself was in existence for 100 years?

    Decide for yourselves:

  5. At the meeting at the community college several months ago, it was stated (if I understood the informations correctly) that 20% of the truck traffic through Hudson was from the Colorusso trucks and that the addition of this road would in no way remove those trucks from Third, Columbia, and the other streets involved in the truck route. So, for the gentleman to tell Bob it would only be in "emergency" situations is a clarification that moves away from their previous stance. Can we trust that this is an accurate statement? While hardly a solution to the truck traffic issue, it would be a huge improvement to quality of life and pedestrian safety to get that 20% out of town.