On September 15, A. Colarusso and Sons and Colarusso Ventures, LLC, filed a countersuit against the City of Hudson, the Hudson Planning Board, and Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency, seeking a judgment:
(1) vacating and annulling the determination of Respondents CITY OF HUDSON AND CITY OF HUDSON PLANNING BOARD to conduct an unlawful SEQRA review of certain repairs that Petitioners/Plaintiffs have already performed to their commercial dock; (2) prohibiting Respondents CITY OF HUDSON AND CITY OF HUDSON PLANNING BOARD from imposing excessive fees on Petitioners/Plaintiffs in connection with Respondents' review of these dock repairs; (3) prohibiting Respondents CITY OF HUDSON AND CITY OF HUDSON PLANNING BOARD from imposing excessive fees on Plaintiffs/Petitioners in connection with Respondents' review of Petitioners/Plaintiffs' application to resurface their haul road; (4) prohibiting Respondents CITY OF HUDSON AND CITY OF HUDSON PLANNING BOARD from further regulating the intensity of Petitioners' use of their commercial dock and haul road; (5) vacating and annulling the determination of Respondents CITY OF HUDSON and HUDSON COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING AGENCY that Petitioners/Plaintiffs require a development permit pursuant to Chapter 148 of the Code of the City of Hudson before they may resurface this haul road; and (6) granting such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.Paul A. Colarusso, president of A. Colarusso & Sons, announced the company's countersuit yesterday in a meeting with the editorial board of Columbia-Greene Media, a.k.a. the Register-Star. That meeting was videotaped and can be viewed here. At the beginning of the video, Colarusso, responding to a question from Register-Star reporter Amanda Purcell, indicates that the countersuit is "about the SEQR process previously done on the dock repair project." He goes on to say, "The City of Hudson Planning Board wants to redo SEQR on the dock, and we feel that is not appropriate, and our lawyers feel it is not appropriate." He acknowledges that "there's other stuff in there," but the SEQR issue is the reason for the countersuit.
The City of Hudson wants the Greenport Planning Board's negative declaration in SEQR to be annulled, vacated, and set aside, arguing that the Greenport Planning Board "failed to take a hard look at the potential significant adverse environmental impacts of the Project." According to Colarusso, the reason for the countersuit is to prevent the Hudson Planning Board from redoing SEQR on the dock repair project--a project that was completed toward the end of 2016. Gossips is unaware of any plan to redo the SEQR on the dock beyond a comment made by Mitch Khosrova, counsel to the Hudson Planning Board, at the board's last meeting, during a discussion of the quantitative data--traffic volume and noise levels--that is needed for the board to consider Colarusso's application for a conditional use permit for its dock operation. (The need for a conditional use permit for the dock operation, previously a nonconforming use, was triggered by the repairs made to the dock.) In the context of advising the board about its right to have the information it seeks and the possible consequences should the applicant continue not to provide it, Khosrova said--or at least it is so recorded in my notes from the meeting--"You have to do SEQR for the dock." Could it be that this comment prompted the lawsuit?
Then there's the issue of the previous SEQR. Later on in the video (starting at 2:59), Colarusso clarifies that SEQR was done on the dock project with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as lead agency. He alleges that the City of Hudson was notified of the project--not by Colarusso but by DEC--and the City "chose not to be an involved agency." If what Colarusso says is true, one wonders when and how this happened.
The first time Gossips reported on the dock project was in November 2015, when the application submitted to DEC by Colarusso on October 15, 2015, was discussed at an informal Common Council meeting. At that point, the review by the Army Corps of Engineers was already underway, as evidenced by the fact the the Council had received a copy of a letter, dated September 9, 2015, from the ACE requesting more information from the applicant, and a DEC public comment period was about to end, suggesting that DEC was then doing SEQR. If the City of Hudson did indeed deliberately opt out of its role as involved agency, it is not clear when or how or by whom the decision was made. At that time, in November 2015, when asked if the Common Council intended to make a comment during the public comment period on behalf of the residents of Hudson, Don Moore, then Common Council president, said the review was taking place at the state level and indicated that the Planning Board would be the agency of city government that would have jurisdiction in the matter. Ten months later, in August 2016, when the Council received a copy of another letter from the ACE, dated July 18, 2016, which made reference to "the need to obtain any other Federal, State or local authorization required by law for the proposed work," Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) wanted to know what permits from the City were required. Friedman's question, directed to Council president Claudia DeStefano, went unanswered, but on January 27, 2017, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton announced that the Code Enforcement Office had issued an Order to Remedy (ORT) to Colarusso for the dock because they had failed to seek approval from the Planning Board for the repair project.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CAROLE OSTERINK