Monday, January 28, 2019

Point Counterpoint

Earlier this month, the City of Hudson's lawsuit against the Town of Greenport Planning Board for making a negative declaration under SEQRA in its review of the proposed Colarusso haul road from the quarry to the dock was dismissed in court. Today, Gossips learned that a retaliatory lawsuit brought by A. Colarusso & Sons against the City of Hudson and the City of Hudson Planning Board, challenging the determination "requiring them to obtain a conditional use permit for their commercial dock operations" and seeking "declaratory relief regarding a laundry list of complaints," was also dismissed. 

The decision handed down by Supreme Court Justice Michael H. Melkonian on January 23 concludes:
City Code § 325-17.1 Core Riverfront C-R District plainly states that the commercial dock becomes subject to review by the Planning Board in the event of any alteration, improvement, or rebuild of a structure on the subject parcel, in whole or in part, for any purpose. To recite the exact language from the Code: § 325-17.1(D)(1): "Any existing commercial dock operation may continue to operate as a nonconforming use until such time as one or more of the actions or events specified in Subsection D above is proposed to be undertaken." The "events specified in Subsection D" include, in relevant part, "any land or improvement thereon be constructed, altered, paved, improved or rebuilt, in whole or in part, for any purpose." § 325-17.1(d)(1) continues: "Where one of the actions or events specified in Subsection D above is proposed, in addition to the provisions of Article VIII, and as more fully set forth on § 325-17.1F(2), the Planning Board shall impose additional conditions on such use as may be necessary. . ." Here, respondents rationally concluded that the erosion repair project was one of the "actions or events specified in Section D" triggering the termination of petitioners' right to continue to operate the commercial dock without conditional use permit and that SEQRA review for continued commercial dock operation is necessary.
Accordingly, the petition is dismissed in its entirely.
This is good news for the City of Hudson and the waterfront.


  1. "[R]espondents rationally concluded that the erosion repair project was one of the 'actions or events specified in Section D' triggering the termination of petitioners' right to continue to operate the commercial dock without conditional use permit."

    Well there it is. For for the last two years the Colarusso company has been running its operation illegally within the city. The right to use the dock-and-causeway was terminated by the owner's unilateral action which ignored our Zoning Code.

    Next, watch with despair as the first thing our Planning Board lawyer does is look for a compromise. Do we really need to learn the lesson yet again that this man's prime motivation is to make his own life easier?

    Rather than snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (again!), we can shift the whole overarching predicament to a fresh place.

    No longer in a defensive position, at last we're able to resuscitate our own plan which was the centerpiece of the 2011 waterfront program (LWRP). This was the same plan Colarusso bought with the property in 2014; a plan which satisfied the previous landowner; a plan adopted into local law; and a plan that's already undergone its environmental review.

    We've said for years that the reason the aggregate trucks use city streets is to preserve negotiating leverage, a tactic which never stopped giving. As long as Supervisor Mussman continued to exploit the situation by mischaracterizing it, it was a damned good plan.

    Today those misrepresentations were deflated by a court decision that preserved the City's authority and restored its ability to plan. Barring some fresh and mindless compromise suggested by attorney Khosrova, it's time to push the LWRP plan for the South Bay truck route and not to compromise one iota.

    If the company wishes to be restored as a legal operation within the City, then it's time they finish the crossings at State Routes 9 and 9G. That was the plan all along to get the aggregate trucks off our streets.

    I believe that following today's decision the company will have run out of excuses why it shouldn't implement a plan that it bought into.

  2. Alternative headline: Shoe on Other Foot.

  3. Unheimlich nails it perfectly. The repairs that Colarusso undertook at the waterfront dock were not the central issue. Their pugnacious attorney was just hoping to use that issue to get a court ruling that would severely limit the ability of the Hudson Planning Board to exercise its legitimate authority.

    Furthermore, getting the Colarusso trucks off Columbia St. has always been a bogus rationale to allow the company to ramp up the volume via a 2-lane highway thru South Bay. After a few years of profitable operation, Colarusso would be in a position to sell their business to the Irish firm Callanan, or O & G Industries of Torrington, CT, or the giant Holcim / LaFarge corporation upriver at Ravena. That would leave Hudson in the same lousy position that we endured for so many decades, with a big out-of-state or foreign entity owning a huge chunk of our waterfront.

  4. A perfect synopsis, Peter.

    This is such a turnaround for the company's strategy that their best hope right now is for the City to fail to recognize its opportunity.

    Of course if the mayor's Mitch Khosrova and the hapless Planning Board begin by discussing the terms of conditional use, then the company will know at once we missed the full import of the latest court decision. It will know that the proposal is still on.

    Meanwhile in Greenport's SEQR review and the same court's judgement that favored Greenport, the LWRP's truck route alternative was never considered. Well now it can be.

    That's what we need to talk about next, and not the company's "conditional uses" which would inherently acquiesce to a plan that's steamrolled us for far too long.

    All of that ended today, and whoever doesn't get it had better move aside.

    (Another break for the city: this is an election year.)

  5. Thanks and congratulations to Ken Dow for his careful work on the city's behalf. It was an admirable job, neat, and easy for anyone to understand.

  6. This is interesting, under §325-33 Penalties for Offenses:

    "Each day that an offense occurs shall be a separate violation."

    The Order to Remedy was issued on Jan. 24, 2017.

  7. For the time being it's best if the City does nothing. There's a maximum fine ($2500), so collecting sooner rather than later only minimizes our options. Indeed, imposing the fine now will automatically set other processes in motion, and do so prematurely. Let's be smart about this.