At its meeting this past Tuesday, the Planning Board gave approval to the outdoor uses planned for the new location of Isaan Thai Star (41 North Seventh Street) and WYLDE Hudson (35 South Third Street) and the amendment to the site plan for the proposed hotel at 620 Union Street.
At the start of the public hearing on the project, it was reiterated that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) prohibits local planning boards from considering health impacts. It is sufficient that projects meet FCC standards. The Planning Board can only look at land use impacts. The public was advised that they could raise health issues, but, "to the extent it influences the board, it is improper."
In his presentation prior to the public hearing, Scott Olson, who represents the applicant, Verizon, made an interesting revelation. As is known, the first choice for location was Bliss Towers, but he said he'd heard rumors that Bliss Towers was to be demolished, so he asked about that and learned that Bliss Towers would only give Verizon a lease for three years. Verizon wanted a lease for twenty-five years, so the notion of mounting the antennas on Bliss Towers was abandoned.
Among the things the Planning Board can consider are the impacts of the proposed antennas on cultural resources, and the site is adjoining a National Register and locally designated historic district. In her presentation during the public hearing, Alexandra Semchenko demonstrated with photographs how the roofline of Providence Hall was visible from various vantage points throughout the historic district. She predicted that properties in the 100 block of Warren Street would be devalued by as much as 20 percent because of their proximity to a wireless communications installation. She noted that Providence Hall is in a high wind, high lightning strike area and warned there was a risk the antennas would be blown off the roof or struck by lightning, causing a fire.
Michael Colberg also spoke about the risk of the towers being blown off the roof. Citing a climate map that appeared in the New York Times in September, Colberg said Hudson is in a high risk hurricane zone and suggested that the owner of the building should indemnify the City of harm to its citizens.
Dewan Sarowar, Second Ward alderman, said he had spoken with all the residents of Providence Hall, and none of them wanted the antennas on the building.
The public hearing on the proposal will continue at the Planning Board's January meeting.
When attention was turned to Colarusso and its conditional use permits, the Planning Board resumed its consideration of the questions in Part 2 of the Full Environmental Assessment Form. Previously, the board had worked its way through Questions 1 through 5. At this meeting, they considered Questions 6 through 10. It was in the discussion of Question 7, Impact on Plants and Animals, that some interesting information was offered by Planning Board member Stephen Steim: There are peregrine falcons nesting on the site. Their discovery has been confirmed. Peregrine falcons are an endangered species in New York State, so it will be interesting to see what impact their presence at the site will have on the permitting process.
The entire Planning Board meeting, which ran for close to three and a half hours, can be viewed here.
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