Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Longest Planning Board Meeting: Part 2

After more than an hour and a half spent discussing the Stewart's expansion, the Planning Board turned its attention on Thursday to Colarusso and the already completed but never properly permitted repairs to the dock and the proposed haul road through South Bay.

In January, the retaliatory lawsuit brought by A. Colarusso & Sons against the City of Hudson and the 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 dismissed. Now that "laundry list of complaints" has become the eleven things the Planning Board is empowered to examine in its review of the operation.

City attorney Andy Howard advised the board to keep the dock and the haul road separate and to make findings on each. Still the presentation by Colarusso engineer Pat Prendergast and the discussion it provoked moved between the two issues. 

On the subject of the haul road, Prendergast noted that the part of the haul road in Greenport had already been approved by the Greenport Planning Board. He claimed the road between Route 9 and Colarusso's headquarters on Newman Road would would remove 12,000 asphalt trucks from the streets of Hudson every year. When asked by board members--first by Clark Wieman and later by Betsy Gramkow--by they haven't started using that portion of the road already, Prendergast responded that they were ready to do all of the haul road but insisted that it was more efficient to do the construction of the entire road--from the quarry to the dock--at one time. What he didn't mention was they would lose some of their leverage for getting Hudson to approve the portion of the haul road that passes through South Bay if they removed 12,000 asphalt trucks from city streets before approval was granted.

Railroad tracks and "road" c.1968 
Photo courtesy Hudson Area Library History Room
The plan for South Bay involves moving the roadway from its current location to the center of the berm where the railroad tracks once were. Prendergast told the Planning Board that Norbert Quenzer would be consulting on the revegetation along the route. He explained that the existing path would be "top-soiled and seeded." Six feet on either side of the proposed two-way paved road would be mowed; the rest would be allowed to grow back naturally. 

Planning Board chair Walter Chatham spoke at some length about the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program) and the FGEIS (Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement). He told that board that the LWRP recommended a two-way haul road "to alleviate truck traffic in the city." He went on to say, "My sense is that the purpose was to mitigate not eliminate the business," and he counseled the board, "There is a lot of noise around us now, but we need to look at what the actual benefit to the community would be." He also confessed, "I didn't understand that the haul road idea originated from the LWRP and didn't originate with Colarusso." (In the interest of historic accuracy, it should be pointed out that in 2011, when the LWRP and the FGEIS were adopted, Colarusso did not own the property. It was owned by Holcim, and company called O&G was hauling gravel to the dock.)

When the discussion returned to the topic of the dock, Chatham said that the "salt shed" was "not an attractive enhancement to the waterfront as it is." He pointed out that the cladding is rotting off and asked, "Can we dress up things?" He also spoke of screening and suggested that gravel might be stockpiled in six small piles instead of one big one.

Returning to the haul road, Chatham said he sought an agreement that there would be no trucks associated with Colarusso--hauling gravel to the dock or coming for asphalt or other material--on Hudson streets except in an emergency. The representatives from Colarusso said such such a guarantee was not possible because the haul road between Route 9 and Newman Road could not be used when blasting was occurring the the quarry.

The Colarusso discussion ended with the Planning Board deciding to make a site visit to the dock and haul road to "form some opinions" and "come up with conditions" for granting a conditional use permit.


  1. There is a lot more to this. To be continued...

  2. Will the Board's site visit consider a conditional use permit for the existing road, or for the larger road the company would like to build elsewhere?

    On the subject of elsewhere, the word "move" - as in "move the haul road" - has served the company well. In the eyes of the reprehensible NYSDEC, a "moved" road lessened the enormity of the actual proposal which is to build a new road somewhere else.

    But it was not the DEC's problem to establish precisely where that "somewhere" will be in regard to the city's Zoning Code.

    But while that precise question was evaded by the ZBA who merely kicked it down the road, even according to the Applicant's self-serving site plan the new road will require portions of the Recreational Conservation District.

    Our city engineers understand this even if nobody else does, but we get what we pay for.

    Finally, ask why the short section of road inside the mine, between Rte 9 and Newman Road, has remained unfinished despite the years they've had to finish it. Most curious.

  3. Given that Colarusso has done absolutely nothing to improve their property, why should we believe that they would be good neighbors in the future?