Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Status of the Other Lawsuit

At the beginning of the week, it was reported that the City of Hudson's lawsuit against the Greenport Planning Board had been dismissed. Today on HudsonValley360, Amanda Purcell reports on the status of the other lawsuit--the one A. Colarusso & Sons filed against the City of Hudson Planning Board: "Colarusso countersuit in limbo."


  1. Because the DEC conducted an "uncoordinated" SEQR review of the project, a "process by which involved agencies independently review the impacts of a proposed action" (NYS SEQR Handbook), the City was merely exercising its responsibility to review the project independently. What the Applicant believes is appropriate or not is immaterial before the law.

    But if the court decides that the DEC review on the dock was sufficient, then the City would appeal on the basis of the DEC's disclaimer that there may be local laws, such as zoning, that the state never considered.

    But that would put us right back to defending the unresolved contradictions of the 2011 zoning amendments which residents at the time warned would create chaos.

    I'll never forget the night of the Public Hearing for the amendments, when we knew that the Aldermen had no understanding whatsoever of the laws they were about to ratify. All they had, aside from the public's detailed analysis, was the emphatic assurance of the City's Corporate Counsel who'd authored the mess. The Aldermen of the day were dumber than a bag of hammers, and totally ignored the public comments. And now here we are, with a ZBA that can't decide where the zoning boundaries are and their (/our) attorney who believes that a nonconforming use can cease as soon as a landowner makes a proposal.

    The Applicant is even working that vein a bit when suggesting that an actual "expansion" would require a new site plan. But running more trucks is an expansion, too, by way of an intensification of the use. And that's an expansion the City cannot regulate.

    If there's a need to appeal, then the City should retain the attorney who wrote the response in the first place, Ken Dow. He's never lost before the Appellate Division, and that's saying something.

    But this promiscuous use the term "countersuit" is unacceptable. It may have been tit-for-tat, but any suggestion that the two cases are technically related will only hurt the City going forward. If the Supreme Court in the Article 78 case didn't dignify our segmentation complaint (because we never explained it!), then the two cases are distinct. That's now to our advantage at the dock. So the next time you hear someone say "countersuit" based on The Register-Star stories, ask them if they know what in the world they're talking about?

  2. Before the usual hooligans get a chance to comment (Supervisor Mussman, et al), it's critical to understand that the creation of the Core-Riverfront District in 2011 was to accommodate the owner's use of the existing causeway, which is something EVERYONE supports except for the landowners and a few bad-faith politicians (see below). Notice that many people have the opposite impression, which is exactly the sort of confusion one might wish on an adversary.

    The real reason that events are out of synch with the City's multiyear planning effort is that after the current owner completed (and expanded) the nonconforming causeway between Rte. 9-G and up to the mine, suddenly it announced that it wanted two lanes of traffic as well. That was never part of the City's waterfront program planning which provided the rationale for the new Zoning District.

    Because the existing causeway can be used at any time for two-way traffic (and the road to the mine can be completed in short order, WHICH IS WHAT HUDSON RESIDENTS ALL WANT), the continuing use of city streets for the company's trucks is unwarranted.

    The only purpose in abusing our streets and our lungs must be to hold us hostage in order to advance a plan which the city never sanctioned.

    It's high time we isolate the false arguments of officials like Supervisor Mussman who undercuts everyone else's position by misrepresenting the intention of the 2011 zoning amendments. She well knows that the 2011 plan was to use the existing causeway as is. But if she knows the truth, it's just too irresistible not to divide the community to her own advantage by broadcasting falsehoods.

    To repeat, it is more responsible environmentally to use the causeway as is for two-way traffic than it is to 1) widen the road through the South Bay, or 2) continue using city streets.

    And here's another vocabulary tip: it is not a "haul" road. Drop "haul" for good due to its unfortunate legal implications.

  3. Incidentally, our failure to explain the segmentation issue in the Article 78 is exactly like our Assistant Attorney's failure to explain to the DEC Commissioner the significance of the Zoning Code when the City sought Lead Agency status of the project's environmental review.

    When both authorities disappointed us, the one explicitly and this month implicitly, the answer was the same: You failed to explain the significance.

    Whether or not we lose the remaining case we're still in a strong position (to appeal for instance), except that we're stuck with the same legal incompetence that got us in this position to begin with. (Though it did create a lot of work for lawyers.)

    Attorney Mitch Khosrova must explain if his ideas have changed about nonconforming uses in the Core Riverfront District. If he still insists on a constructionist reading of the Code (and he is all alone in this), then the Assistant Attorney must be replaced by Mayor Rector.

    The longer we wait the worse it will be for us, and particularly for our Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board.