Alas, Dan Udell was not there with his video camera nor was Jess Puglisi from WGXC there with her microphone, so you have only Gossips (and Amanda Purcell of the Register-Star) to tell you what happened at last night's Planning Board meeting. There were a couple of other projects before the Planning Board, but this post will focus on the Colarusso projects: the dock (mostly) and the haul road (not much at all).
During the public hearing about the dock, which was a continuation of the public hearing begun on July 13, three members of the Hudson Power Boat Association, only one of whom actually lives in Hudson, spoke about how much the alterations to the dock improved waterfront safety for boaters. One went so far as to declare, "We owe Colarusso thanks for being a good neighbor." Comments from two Hudson residents--John Rosenthal and Julie Metz--brought the focus back to the real issue. Rosenthal said, "We have laws, and we have reviews. [Colarusso] disregarded them based on what they wanted to do." Metz reiterated the sentiment: "It's a terrible precedent for a company to do something without regard to the law."
The issue with the dock is that according to the zoning adopted in 2011, as part of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP), the industrial use of the dock is a nonconforming use. Any alteration to the dock triggers the need to apply for a conditional use permit for Colarusso's current operations. Planning Board is now reviewing the application for a conditional use permit.
When the discussion returned to the dock, after the public hearing was closed and two other applications were considered, Planning Board member Carmine Pierro announced that he had a "little narrative" about the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative). Tom DePietro, chair of the Planning Board, initially told him it was not relevant but then allowed him to continue. Pierro passed out copies of this illustration from the DRI application and also had a larger version mounted on foam core.
Referring to a script, written out on several sheets from a yellow legal pad, Pierro cited several of the proposals that are part of the DRI application: a public pier, new pedestrian bridges, eliminating the roadway west of the railroad tracks. He then said that he had contacted Cheryl Roberts, who had been the city attorney when the LWRP was adopted 2011 and was in large part the author of the LWRP. He quoted an email from Roberts explaining conditions the Planning Board can impose on dock operations. The point of the "narrative" wasn't entirely clear to this listener, beyond perhaps being an attempt to caution the Planning Board against trying to place too many restrictions on Colarusso's activities at the dock.
Having given Pierro his hearing, DePietro asked the engineers from Barton & Loguidice, Ryan Weitz and Donald Fletcher, who are consulting with the Hudson Planning Board, to summarize their comments which had been submitted in a letter to the Planning Board. That letter can be viewed here. Weitz spoke of dust, noise, traffic, and hours of operation, noting that the letter "spelled out what quantitative data is needed to make a decision." He stressed two things: "truck traffic volume and noise levels." He noted that thus far the information from Colarusso on truck traffic was "47 to 284 one-way trips on the haul road" and asserted these numbers were "not based on an actual count of what is going in and out of the dock."
Weitz also made reference to Chapter 210 of the city code, which deals with noise, and noted that the current noise levels of activity at the dock needed to be known to determine if they are in conformance or what mitigation would be required to bring them into conformance.
DePietro noted that it was "the fourth month in a row we have asked for [truck traffic numbers]," and Colarusso had not yet complied. He told the board, "We can decide not to accept the application [for a conditional use permit] if they don't give us the information." A little later in the meeting, Mitch Khosrova, legal counsel to the Planning Board, asserted, "You can deny the application based on the fact you don't have the information."
Khosrova recommended that the board set a deadline for Colarusso to provide the needed information, suggesting Monday, October 2, as an appropriate deadline. When the representatives from Colarusso were asked if they could meet that deadline, John Privitera, attorney for A. Colarusso & Sons, rose to protest that the City of Hudson had sued Colarusso a few weeks ago, "so we're still dealing with that." He complained that he didn't know the Colarusso projects would be on the agenda that night and they were not prepared to answer any questions. Privitera also indicated that they were not prepared to discuss the haul road. DePietro told Privitera, "We've have asked to expedite this application, and now you won't cooperate."
JR Heffner, vice president of operations for Colarusso, who attends every meeting having to do with the projects but rarely speaks, spoke last night to complain, "If we didn't do anything about the wall falling in, we wouldn't be here. It's not fair." After remarking that his mother had told him life isn't fair, DePietro responded, "You made that decision in 2014 when you bought property covered by laws passed in 2011."
At the end of the meeting, Khosrova revealed that Colarusso is refusing to pay bills--his bills--which they are required to pay under SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) and City of Hudson code, claiming the invoices do not provide enough specificity. Khosrova maintained that attorney-client privilege prohibits him from providing more information than he is providing. "I've spent more time defending my bills," he complained, "than the bills are for."
The story of Colarusso, the dock, and the haul road continues.
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