Early on in the public comments, Julie Metz took the Planning Board to task for scheduling a public hearing prematurely, before the public had all the information about the project and could respond. At the end, when the public hearing was recessed but not closed, Planning Board chair Walter Chatham responded to that criticism by explaining that they were having a public hearing now so that the Planning Board could benefit from the information provided by the public--not a bad idea since many of the issues surrounding the operations at the dock and in South Bay go back to 2011 and earlier. A few members of the Planning Board didn't live in Hudson at that time, and several members of the public have long histories of dealing with waterfront issues.
|Photo: The Valley Alliance|
Among the points driven home in the public hearing, by Sam Pratt and by former city attorney Ken Dow, was that Colarusso lost its grandfathered status when they did work on the dock without a site plan review by the Planning Board. That action triggered the need for a conditional use permit for the entire dock operation. Since no conditional use permit has been issued, Tony Stone pointed out that the Planning Board had the power to shut down all operations at the dock right now. Dow reminded the Planning Board that a title search had confirmed that 4.4 acres of waterfront land that Colarusso purchased from Holcim in 2014 was illegally transferred to St. Lawrence Cement in 1981 and actually still belongs to the City of Hudson.
|Image: The Valley Alliance|
Jeff Anzevino of Scenic Hudson asked the Planning Board to "bear in mind the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program) and its goals--to protect South Bay and the residents of Hudson." He noted that the zoning adopted as part of the LWRP gave the City the ability to control any kind of improvements along the causeway. He also advised that the bounds of the Core Riverfront (C-R) District needed to be determined.
Melissa Auf der Maur urged, "We cannot allow Colarusso to pit our city against each other." Some of that north side/south side tension was evident in the comments. Annette Perry, who lives on lower Columbia Street and makes it her mission to see that children get safely on and off the school bus, talked about the dangers posed by gravel trucks on city streets. "I think Mr. Colarusso has a solution," Perry told the Planning Board, "and his solution will work," adding that her father had worked for Colarusso, so she knows he's a good man. Jennifer Stockmeier, who lives in the 600 block of Columbia Street, maintained that "the level of truck traffic has increased in the last few years" and wanted the Planning Board "to make them stop the trucks now." Linda Mussmann, whose not-for-profit TSL is located in the 400 block of Columbia Street, declared that trucks were a hazard, asserted that she had never endorsed having trucks go to the waterfront, complained that Colarusso has not paid for any of the damage to the City's infrastructure caused by its trucks, and concluded, "Trucks do not belong in our city."
Nicole Vidor and Stone both made the point that the road from the quarry to Route 9G could be used right now, and Colarusso could go both ways on the existing road through South Bay, as O&G had done before, thus eliminating the need for any gravel trucks to travel on city streets. Susan Meyer pointed out that the use of the haul road only eliminated Colarusso trucks from city streets. Peter Jung and Matt Hartzog of Assemblymember Didi Barrett's office both spoke of the $100,000 in the state budget for a study of truck traffic in Hudson, suggesting that it could have better outcomes than the proposed haul road.
In his comments at the beginning of the meeting, Pat Prendergast portrayed Colarusso as a family business that has existed since 1912 and "hires 150 of your neighbors." The family business part was underscored by the presence of two tired and restless preschoolers, wearing red T-shirts with the Colarusso logo and "1912" on the front and "6th Generation" on the back. Still several comments revealed that Hudson residents weren't buying the family business/industrial good neighbor image. Vidor declared, "Hudson is a balanced and thriving city, and Colarusso doesn't give a damn." Chris McManus characterized Colarusso as a company that "sues the City and tries to subvert the process." Larry Bowne spoke of Colarusso's "casual disregard of the ability of government to act in the public good." Barbara Dague asserted that Colarusso had lost its good neighbor status "when they made changes without Planning Board review."
Because there was a three-minute time limit, many of the speakers submitted their full testimony in written form. Chatham announced last night that all the written comments submitted would be made available online at the City of Hudson website. Additional comments can be submitted to the members of the Planning Board. Their email addresses are all available here.
Dan Udell's video of last night's Planning Board meeting is now available on YouTube. The Colarusso hearing begins 46 minutes in.
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