Wednesday, October 14, 2020

An Interesting Development . . .

which in my judgment may be most interesting from a day filled with information.

At the Planning Board meeting last night, chair Betsy Gramkow revealed that she had received a letter from John Privitera, attorney for A. Colarusso and Sons, charging two members of the Planning Board with "conflict of interest or bias" as relates to the Colarusso matter. Gramkow did not identify the two members, but it soon became clear who they were. After introducing the topic, Gramkow declared that she had no conflict of interest or bias. John Cody, Theresa Joyner, Steve Steim, and Laura Margolis made the same declaration. But two members--Larry Bowne and Clark Wieman--revealed by their extended statements that they were the ones accused. 

Bowne acknowledged that prior to joining the Planning Board he had been associated with Our Hudson Waterfront but asserted that his activities had always been for the purpose of encouraging the Planning Board to conduct its review fairly, transparently, and rigorously. He maintained that he had never advocated for or against a specific outcome. He declared that if he were incapable of being openminded and fair, he never would have joined the board or taken the oath to faithfully discharge his duties as a member of the Planning Board.

Wieman similarly made a statement in which he argued that his tough questioning was not bias but rather diligence. He called the allegations of guilt by association, due to his partner's former activities with Our Hudson Waterfront, "ridiculous and unfounded," stating, "My views are my own, and I am committed to a full and open process." Wieman concluded by saying, "Frivolous allegations can be made against all Planning Board members who have pressed Colarusso for compliance with SEQRA [State Environmental Quality Review Act], pressed for information, asked tough questions, or expressed skepticism at inadequate responses."

During the public hearing, five members of the public spoke. David Konigsburg urged the Planning Board to make a positive declaration and explore fully the impact of the proposal on the environment and the economy of Hudson. Donna Streitz cautioned the board to be skeptical of the claim that the volume of trucks would not increase and stated her support for a positive declaration. Peg Patterson maintained "this proposal promises to do nothing for Hudson businesses" and also urged the board to make a positive declaration. Leslie Pirtle talked about safety issues at the Broad Street crossing and declared, "A cleaner, safer, forward thinking vision for Hudson must be sought."

In his statement, Peter Jung asked the members of the Planning Board to take a fresh look at the project--as it were being proposed as a brand new project. He asked them to imagine this was a brand new quarry, a new intersection on Route 9, a road through a sensitive wetland, a second new intersection on Route G, a two-lane industrial road through South Bay that ultimately brought heavy trucks past Basilica Hudson, soon to be individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the historic Hudson train station and Dunn warehouse building, and the city's beloved Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, and he reminded them that this new project they were considering would bring no new job opportunities and no revenue for the City. "When you look at it fresh," Jung argued, "this proposal is bonkers."

After receiving the comments, the Planning Board voted unanimously to close the public hearing but to receive written comments on the project for another ten days. Those comments can be submitted to Planning Board chair Betsy Gramkow at bgramkow@cityofhudson.org. When Gossips left the Planning Board meeting at 7:00 p.m. to join the Common Council informal meeting, the board was preparing to consider the eighteen questions that make up Part II of the Environmental Assessment Form. 
COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

2 comments:

  1. "Basilica Hudson, soon to be individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places."

    Has Basilica Hudson been deemed "eligible" for listing by SHPO? That's a formal determination in itself, a precursor to listing which nevertheless effects the SEQRA process.

    ReplyDelete
  2. By insulting the Hudson Planning Board, Colarusso attorney Privitera is making a huge mistake and not serving his client well. From the start he has desperately been trying to avoid a fair and comprehensive review, and is instead trying to undermine the process. This is how one behaves when operating from a weak and vulnerable position.

    ReplyDelete