Saturday, August 10, 2019

In the Fullness of Time

A year ago, on August 13, 2018, Common Council president Tom DePietro announced the creation of a Planning Task Force, which, he said, would involve "all the relevant agencies"--"HDC, HCDPA, Zoning, and Planning"--and would help with the process of the DRI, the LWRP, and "any other group that needs help in planning for housing and other related projects." He promised to provide full details about the task force at the regular meeting on the Council on August 22, 2018, but no details were forthcoming at the meeting. The so-called Planning Task Force wasn't mentioned again in a public meeting until the end of September 2018, when the Legal Committee began discussing the resolution that would be needed to create such a body.

In November 2018, the resolution creating the special committee to be known as the Zoning and Planning Task Force was passed by the Common Council. The resolution specified that the task force would be made up of the following nine members:
  • The chairman of the Planning Board, or a designee
  • The chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, or a designee
  • The chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission, or a designee
  • The chairman of the Conservation Advisory Council, or a designee
  • The mayor
  • The president of the Common Council
  • The Code Enforcement officer
  • Two members of the Common Council
The resolution also specified that the task force "shall meet at a regularly scheduled time" and "its meetings shall be governed by the Open Meetings Law of the State of New York."

For four months passed, and no meetings of the task force were scheduled. Then, in March 2019, DePietro announced that a visit from Alexandra Church, the city planner from Newburgh, was to be the "kickoff event" for the Zoning and Planning Task Force. Church made her presentation on April 10, but it kicked off nothing. By this time, however, we did know that Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) had been named the chair of the task force, but the identity of the second alderman to serve on the task force remained unknown.

Now, almost one year to the day after DePietro announced the creation of the task force, he has finally announced its first meeting, which is to take place on Thursday, September 5, at 7:00 p.m., in City Hall. So, mark your calendars. It should be noted that the resolution specifies that the Zoning and Planning Task Force "shall operate and exist until December 31, 2019." Time is running out.

1 comment:

  1. Why does this post read like an indictment of negligent wrong-doing? From the tone you'd think that the Planning Task Force was originally the idea of the disappointed blogger.

    If the sheer ambition to build such a large and beneficial institution is moving too slowly for anyone, then the pace is set by responsibility and care.

    If that were only so with previous Common Councils! To provide missing context, compare our present Council with any of its predecessors over the last 10 years. The cumulative failures of the previous Councils continue to astound in number and impact.

    Chief among the botched efforts was the LWRP itself, our waterfront program, which is named in this post.

    Had the 2009 Council not accepted the draft LWRP prematurely, then we might have a state-approved LWRP today.

    The ensuing process only deepened our divisions, the healing of which should have been a priority in City Hall. Instead, we got years of autocracy lording it over soft-minded Aldermen and a largely silenced public. The results which were poor at best were all traceable to bad leadership.

    Under the aegis of the LWRP, the 2011 Council ratified a Zoning Map which wouldn't be created for another 13 months (!). Today, that same map continues to bewilder and will soon vex the ZBA for a second time in as many years.

    Later efforts to revamp the LWRP - both of them failures - were further proof of the difficulty of institution-building in Hudson.

    Time is not "running out" for the Planning Task Force, and this Council, perhaps the best we've ever seen, will not discontinue such an important effort.