Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Moment from Tonight's Council Meeting

Gossips will report fully on tonight's Common Council meeting, but for now I want to share just one moment. After a motion and second to lay proposed Local Law No. 5--the law that would amend the zoning in R-2 and R-2H districts to allow the expansion of "two historic nonconforming uses"--on the aldermen's desks, Council president Tom DePietro invited comment on what he said "has come to be called the 'Stewart's proposal.'" 

Michael LeSawyer, whose house is situated midway between Stewart's and Scali's, the "two historic nonconforming uses" that would benefit from the zoning amendment, complained about the inequity of the amendment: "Stewart's can do anything they want, Scali's can do anything they want, but I can't." He went on to say that if he was subject to the constraints of living in an R-2 district, he expected some benefits.

John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward), who as chair of the Legal Committee is principally responsible for crafting the proposed amendment, reproved LeSawyer, telling him, "Everybody has to balance their concerns with wider community concerns." To which LeSawyer countered, without missing a beat, "The community wanted a dog park."

To recall what happened most recently in the decade long effort to build a dog park in Hudson, click here and here


  1. If the people who planned the dog park had also promised the city a large chunk of money (like Stewart's has), then maybe there would be a dog park.

    Obviously the council exists to enrich itself, not to represent its residents.

  2. Oh now wait, nobody "reproved" anyone else. The alderman gave the usual counter-argument to NIMBY-ism, that timeless class of interests which attends many proposals across the land. That's not to say that NIMBY-ism can't have good arguments, but that they're essentially very local ones.

    The opposite of this is to see the whole, and to ask what's best for everyone. To that end, we do "have to" balance our interests with the wider community interests, a point which Mr. LeSawyer tacitly conceded by presenting his arguments as proto-negotiations. Acknowledging the different scales of interests involved, I heard him ask between the lines how the results might accommodate his own private interests?

    In addition to having his position amended by the alderman - a position which Mr. LeSawyer pretty much defined as local to his own interests - Mr. Rosenthal himself acknowledged the homeowner's unfortunate circumstance as a result of our Euclidean zoning designed for a bygone era, an observation which showed a weakness in the whole through Mr. LeSawyer's particular example. That was an impressive balancing between whole and part, and who can disagree with the diagnosis?

    This is why I didn't hear a reproof in the sense of an invalidation or disqualification of Mr. LeSawyer's local concerns. I didn't hear any scolding. The alderman was simply reminding people to adjust their perspectives outwards, and to simply accept or reject Mr. LeSawyer's interests but to ameliorate them. To see them against the appropriate historical background: antiquated zoning.

    Mr. Rosenthal said said "balance," to which Mr. LeSawyer offered some things he'd like to see. It was all very reasonable and healthy in my view, though people really need to attend committee meetings if they're going to claim that the City is springing something on them. That's not what happened here and I couldn't let it pass.

    1. I stand by my carefully considered choice of the word "reproved," but readers can watch Dan Udell's video and decide for themselves the appropriateness of my choice of verb.

  3. Mr. LeSawyer may now find his home in a lucrative location. Commercial to the left of him / commercial to the right of him.

    Next commercial expansion will make his property the next to fight over and tare down.

  4. Will Hudson ever have a dog park??????????????