Monday, July 1, 2019

On the Road Again

Next week, on July 9, the Planning Board is holding a public hearing on a conditional use permit for Colarusso's operations through South Bay and at the dock. What's under scrutiny is the activity that goes on at the dock and a proposed new haul road that goes from the dock to quarry in Greenport. Greenport approved its part of the haul road--from just east of Route 9G to the quarry--almost two years ago, but lawsuits suspended the review by the Hudson Planning Board. Now, after several months of asking questions and deliberating over the answers, the Planning Board has decided they know what they need to know and it's time to move ahead. But is it?

The repairs to the dock, undertaken in December 2016 without the required review by the Planning Board, ended the grandfathered nonconforming use status of the dock operations and triggered the need to seek a conditional use permit from the Planning Board. Much of the discussion of the project by the Planning Board has focused on the dock, dealing with such issues of hours of operation, number of trucks, screening stockpiled material, and traffic at the Broad Street railroad crossing. There hasn't been as much talk about the haul road itself, but perhaps there should have been. The South Bay Coalition is now questioning if the new route of the haul road through South Bay doesn't require a variance because it deviates from the Core Riverfront District and encroaches into the Recreation Conservation (R-C) District.

On the map above, created by the South Bay Coalition, the green line shows the Core Riverfront (C-R) District as it extends through South Bay from the dock area to Route 9G. This is the corridor that the Zoning Board of Appeals decided was correct when asked to determine the exact boundaries of the C-R District. The pink shows where the proposed haul road deviates from the C-R District and encroaches into the Recreation Conservation (R-C) District. It would appear that, before there can be a public hearing by the Planning Board, the project needs a use variance from the ZBA, because such industrial hauling is not a permitted use in the R-C District.


  1. On variances from the state's SEQR Handbook (p. 190):

    "[If] a use variance is granted, most municipalities will [then] provide for either site plan review or special use permit review, or both …"

    "Whether the variance, if granted, would alter the essential character of the neighborhood is something that the zoning board would consider in determining whether to require an EIS. If the zoning board were to determine that the variance, if granted, would not alter the essential character of the neighborhood, it would still have to determine whether, based on the other SEQR criteria, to require the preparation of an EIS [Environmental Impact Statement]."

  2. And there is another problem that the Planning Board should have confronted before proceeding. The City still owns 4.4 acres of important waterfront property that Colarusso claims as their own. Gossips has written extensively on this matter, those posts can be found on this site. It's crazy for the haul road review to have progressed this far without airing out of these fundamental issues. If there is ensuing litigation, the entire review process could be nullified by a court due to procedural deficiencies.

  3. As long as the ZBA goes first, then all of the "involved" City agencies in the SEQR review can decide between them which is the most appropriate Lead Agency.

    Following the initial review of the (preferably) FULL Environmental Assessment Form, the City can decide whether or not to require an Environmental Impact Statement.

    But in its Findings Statement for the 2011 Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS), the City of Hudson already recommended that a Supplemental EIS be conducted in such circumstances. A Supplemental to the 2011 GEIS confers the original study's analysis of risks and alternatives, and also grounds any new proposals on the already established record of community interests.

    Indeed, it was the thorough analysis of Hudson's continuing Environmental Justice problems which led to the City's previous compromise with the previous landowner. So if a subsequent owner now has a more lucrative alternative in mind, it's outrageously cynical for anyone to exploit the same Environmental Justice issues as if the previous EIS never existed.

    Fortunately, the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) anticipates this cynicism, and so did the city eight years ago.

    The 2011 Findings Statement that justified our previous compromise with Holcim recommended that a SUPPLEMENTAL review be conducted precisely so that no one can move the goalposts later on.

    Anyone who exploits the same problems we already addressed with hard-won compromises in 2011 is moving the goalposts. It's critical that we expose their disingenuousness relentlessly!

  4. From the City's 2011 Findings Statement:

    "[T]he Draft GEIS and Final GEIS identiļ¬ed potential adverse environmental impacts that may need to be addressed in the future through a Supplemental EIS should certain events or actions occur related to the port or use of the South Bay causeway as an alternative truck access route" (p. 10).

    "If permits are needed for use of the causeway as an alternative truck route … preparation of a Supplemental EIS may be required" (p. 14).

    "Future Actions (Nov 2009 DGEIS 7.0)…. [A]s set forth in item 11 of this clause, a Supplemental EIS may be required where permits are necessary for use of the causeway" (p. 15).

    "That upon enactment of the [then-]proposed zoning, such use of the causeway may become subject to the conditional use zoning provisions of the [now ratified] zoning amendments … and may be subject to preparation of a Supplemental EIS …" (p. 16).

    "[The Lead Agency] further finds that "[an] SEIS may be necessary as discussed above to more fully evaluate the potential impacts from future projects related to or use of the port or causeway or future commercial or industrial land uses" (p. 17).

  5. The width of the proposed road is 24 feet, which is the distance between the opposing sets of arrows you see at road intervals on the map.

    Not shown on the map are the 5-foot ditches to each side of the proposed road, and for its whole length.

    The map's claims about the zoning boundaries are utter nonsense, and not only because the ZBA reached a different interpretation in 2018. Rather, a careful study of the 2016 map's claims about the zoning reveals that the alleged boundaries on page 8 of the site plan don't match up with their counterparts on page 9 (the two pages split the South Bay in half). An ostensible zoning boundary on one page becomes a "silt fence" on the next.

    There was an advantage in the error which just happened to obscure the need for a variance. The mistake may have been inadvertent, but people will draw their own conclusions.

  6. Let's make this simple. EXISTING ROAD Single lane used in two directions.Traffic lights at both ends.

    1. By Jove, I think you've got it!

      (Although the DOT says stop signs are sufficient.)

  7. Is there no SWAT team for the sunny side of Warren? If this were the 2nd ward, council would put up a fence until the continuous historic use was eliminated, then there would be no "grandfathered" use to consider.