Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Register-Star on the Colarusso Lawsuit

Last Thursday, Gossips spread the word that Colarusso had filed a lawsuit against the City of Hudson Planning Board. Later that day, an article about the lawsuit by Roger Hannigan Gilson was published in the Times Union: "Mining business Colarusso's sues Hudson over future of waterfront." Today, the Register-Star has its own article about the lawsuit: "Construction company alleges city exceeded its authority."

To read the text of the lawsuit for yourself, click here. Select "Search Records as Guest," enter "Colarusso" in the "Party 1" field, and click on "Search." Go to page 4 and scroll down to the bottom of the page. The link to the current lawsuit is the fifth item from the  bottom.


  1. Well, even if another environmental review is inappropriate, that still leaves the issue as to whether the planning board, given that famous "trigger" was pulled, as also held by the court, has the authority to find that, e.g., the health and safety of Hudson's citizens requires that all C's trucks get off Hudson streets except along the causeway to front street and across the tracks, and back, or to find a way to get the gravel to the dock from the causeway without using Hudson's streets at all, and no where else, and to limit the truck volume to set times and quantities.

    The Planning Board had better hire outside counsel in a hurry, which brings up the issue as to whether the city will authorize payment of the legal bills. If not, unless C can be forced to pay those fees as well as that of its own lawyer, that seems to be another problem. This is quite the mess as I said elsewhere, and I am not sure the PB had a well thought out plan here. I certainly hope it did. It certainly needs one now.

    1. As I replied to your last comment remarking on a confusing situation (a comment you didn’t engage), it doesn’t appear to me that anything is “quite a mess.”

      Why in the world is the right to conduct an environmental review, which was secured before a judge, “inappropriate”?

      In the context of SEQRA, things of a planning nature can be accomplished simply by asking the right questions.

      For example, if nobody wishes to set limits on the truck numbers (I, for one, think it’s madness to be meddling with a private enterprise), then why hasn’t anyone ever asked how many round trips can be accomplished if the trucks use the private road alone?

      Much of the thinking that led to the Core Riverfront District was provided by William Sharp, the principal attorney for NYS DOS. I remember him saying exactly what Mitch Khosrova explained to the Planning Board years later: that it’s better to regulate truck numbers by limiting the means by which they travel. That was the idea behind grandfathering the existing width of the causeway road, but the 2011 GEIS never went further to find out how many two-way truck trips were possible on the one lane road.

      By finally asking the right questions as pertain to a CUP (which makes this environmental review eminently appropriate), the review will automatically take a planning direction which other City entities - all of which should be “involved” or “interested” agencies - may take further.

      There’s nothing confusing about any of this in the context of SEQRA, however much the applicant has signaled its confusion

  2. Did the Register-Star ask Colarusso to write the article for them?

    And when did Colarusso and the Greenberger Center first discuss a possible donation of land? Was it before or after Ms Poliduro was hired by Cheryl Roberts, who has shown the Hudson community time and time again she's using her City position to further her own ends? I keep hearing that Kamal is Linda's creature, so I don't expect him to show enough spine to fire Roberts, but it would be a welcome change if he would listen to someone with the community's best interests at heart for once.

    It seems like Ken Dow has experience with this issue and a win record representing the City against Colarusso in court- I hope the Planning Board has approached him to take on this important case.

    The irony of all this is that if Colarusso hadn't taken such an underhanded approach to this entire project years ago, there would undoubtedly be a workable solution in place by now.

    1. Ken Dow can manage this with both hands tied behind his back.

  3. Colarusso submitted a massive filing, which any sensible judge will treat as an attempt to spam the court with a lot of irrelevant bullshit.

  4. As a business person, I'd like to think that the town would welcome my enterprise. You gotta be really insensitive to community dynamics to file two lawsuits just to get your foot in the door.

    1. Foot in the door? They’ve been operating here for over 100 years. The south bay has been an active port long before that.

  5. Friedman, it would be really helpful if you would get a grip on the basic facts of an issue before participating in a public discussion. Colarusso bought their property in 2014, and operated in Greenport for 92 years WITHOUT ACCESS TO THE HUDSON WATERFRONT. And at the moment they don't even have an operating permit for their ongoing activity. Oy...

    1. Colarusso keeps the rights of the previous owners who used the dock for decades, and at much greater rates than Colarusso.

  6. Peter, all true as far as it goes but the waterfront was being used for transshipping all sorts of things including aggregate, and including by ACS, prior to ACS' purchase of the dock. A dock, by the way, that is in line with NYS policies regarding the shipment of exceptionally heavy matter by water rather than roads -- which includes aggregate. And remember, Peter, under our pesky federal Constitution, everyone has access to the waterfront and that includes ACS. Indeed, an argument can be made that prohibiting ACS from shipping its aggregate from the dock would rise to an administrative taking of its operations.

    You can argue ACS is a newcomer all you like -- that operation has been here longer than you and me. But not nearly as long as the south bay has been industrialized.

  7. Colarusso lost their status as a 'Non-Conforming Use' when they undertook physical alterations to the waterfront dock. They now have no permits and no grand-fathered status, per the NYS Supreme Court. They are now before our Planning Board and are submitting two applications, which need to pass muster under two frameworks-- NY SEQRA, and our local 2011 waterfront zoning. And, South Bay was designated as a Significant Fish and Wildlife Habitat before the company acquired their property, which should preclude the proposal of a paved, two-lane industrial route thru the Bay. Given that the company is imposing massive downside impacts on our community and is unable to demonstrate that they are providing jobs and economic upside for the City of Hudson, there is no way that Colarusso will survive a full and proper review. Their attorney is well aware of his predicament, which explains why he has filed multiple lawsuits in an attempt to dodge the process. He is making the candid admission that the company cannot survive the review.

  8. It's worth noting that another gravel outfit (Valente) proposed the same kind of operation on the waterfront in Troy. That city told them NO.

  9. When we last discussed this, Peter, I doubted that Hudson residents were irritated enough at the Colarusso company to want to insist on those lost operating rights. Now that the lawsuit is on, however, I’m confident that the City’s generosity in allowing their operations to continue will count against the plaintiff. Indeed, from the court’s perspective now might be the best and most reasonable time for the City to order a halt, thereby drawing attention to nearly three years of its forbearance.

    As for the significant habitat, I think what’s most significant about it is that the City itself (in fact “each City agency shall ...”; see 325-35.2(B) passim) - must conduct its own consistency review according to the City’s adopted coastal policies.

    The City of Hudson Code at 325-35.2(B)(8)(f):

    “Actions to be undertaken within the coastal area shall be evaluated for consistency in accordance with the following summary of LWRP policy standards, which are derived from and further explained and described in Section III (Policies) of the City of Hudson LWRP ....

    “Protect and preserve fish and wildlife habitats of local importance and those which DOS has identified as significant from human disruption and chemical contamination ([Coastal] Policies 7, 7A, 7B, 7C, and 8).”

    Of course here, the “action” to be undertaken refers to the potential issuance of a conditional use permit.

    It’s critical that each City agency understand that the protection of the South Bay’s DOS-designated significant habitat falls ENTIRELY to the City. It’s automatic that the state cannot conduct a coastal consistency review solely because the federal Army Corps of Engineers has no role to play unless and until the culverts collapse. That’s just the way it is.

    But who needs the state when Hudson residents know better than anyone the ecological value of the South Bay. Previous industrialization in and around South Bay, and even a city dump, is irrelevant. For the past half century, endemic species under great pressures elsewhere along the river have found a home there. Between Troy and Manhattan, the West Creek is unique for the spreading of Golden Club (NYS-Threatened); everywhere else it’s disappearing. Also in South Bay, rare and protected native bivalves have taken up residence. Times have changed and so has the bay.

    - Timothy

  10. The waterfront situation is very disappointing in the sense that so few few of our residents have taken an interest in the particulars. You would think that the opportunity to build a great waterfront for the community would be an exciting prospect, and that our civic leaders would be deeply engaged and well-informed. Sadly, they aren't.

  11. Notable throughout society, I think that the lack of interest you perceive is reflective of recent societal trends since your days defeating the St. Lawrence proposal two decades ago. People of all ages seem more content to let governments decide their fates for them.

    It seems to me that on the Left - and Hudson is strongly Left-leaning - gone are the days of Boomer individualism and idiosyncratic protest, now replaced with the reflexive, preapproved pabulum of lazy voting-blocs.

    I’ve devoted years to explaining to our fellow Hudsonians the principle of Home Rule, but with less and less success as the enthusiasm for self-determination has waned.

    You may recall my writing in the past that democracy is wasted on New Yorkers, and that maybe only by abolishing Home Rule and its gift of self-determination - along with the governmental cynicism and corruption that thrive on the peoples’ apathy - can we invigorate participatory democracy. Almost nobody on the Left appreciates as they used to 40 years ago that that “gift” of local self-determination entails obligation. That kind of thinking is extinct on the Left, displaced by lazy universalist presuppositions (and from there it’s a short trip to, “The government will take care of it”).

    But in the Colarusso matter, we’ve been very lucky in recent years to have inquisitive Planning Boards, with members determined to defend the City’s policies. Chairman Gramkow was determined to do things by the book, a culture which has continued under Chairman Steim. We owe them both a debt of gratitude. Just consider how both Boards stood up to their respective lawyers; the first lawyer having stepped down and the second correcting her profound category error thanks to the members’ protests.

    So let’s just keep on keeping on, and hope that all of the Board members now serving will agree to another term. They certainly have my appreciation for the hard work they’ve done.

    But I agree, it’s quite a state of affairs when a government agency is the one providing the best model for citizens to live up to. Human nature teaches us that that’s more of a fluke than anything and can easily have turned out otherwise - and may yet turn out otherwise next year.

    - Timothy

  12. I’m only just reading the Register Star article, and the author, Noah Eckstein, innocently repeats the patently false and yet central claim of the lawsuit. The result is a journalistic disaster.

    Eckstein’s conclusion is false, even embarrassingly so:

    “State Supreme Court in Albany determined the dock repair project was outside the town of Greenport’s jurisdiction and ruled that it fell to Hudson’s planning board to review and approve the renovation.”

    No, what fell to Hudson was the right to conduct an environmental review for a conditional use permit beyond and including “the renovation” that triggered it.

    Here’s what Judge Melkonian actually ruled:

    “[R]espondents [the City of Hudson] rationally concluded that the erosion repair project was one of the ‘actions or events specified in Section D’ [of 325-17.1(D)] triggering the termination of petitioners’ right to continue to operate the commercial dock without conditional use permit and that SEQRA review for continued dock operations is necessary. Accordingly, the petition is dismissed in its entirety.”

    The City should immediately, if belatedly, terminate ALL continuing operations on the Colarusso Ventures property, particularly as the new lawsuit cites the company’s “ongoing operations” as a reason that an environmental review is unreasonable! The chutzpah!

    By finally shutting down the operations of this arrogant landowner - as is the City’s right (see above) - the City would thereby provide conspicuous context for the actions of the two Planning Board members mentioned in the suit. In defense, you’d argue that in such a small city it’s totally unreasonable to find potential board members who’re neutral when faced with such arrogance.

    Rather than board members recusing themselves for private opinions they may or may not hold, the only question is whether they acquitted themselves as board members. Because the action being disputed is the positive declaration, what court will possibly concede that board members were “prejudiced” when they agreed with Judge Melkonian?

    City of Hudson, be smart, strategize, think!


    Since city leadership is so lacking at the top, why can’t it be initiated by any City agency with jurisdiction, which is all of them (see the City Code at 325-35.2(B)).

  13. If the citizenry had its act together (which first requires an understanding of the issues), we’d band together to sue the City for the harms endured while allowing Colarusso to operate without a permit.

    That’s something Supervisor Mussman might even pursue on her own. It would be the logical outcome of all her complaints, notwithstanding her self-interested refusal to grasp the solution to these problems already given in the 2011 waterfront program (i.e., a one-lane private road used in both directions, so simple!).

    So how about it Linda Mussman? Are you prepared to hold the city to its obligation under Local Law to deny Colarusso its “ongoing operations”? (It was gob-smacking to see “ongoing operations” among the petition’s reasons for why the company shouldn’t be subjected to a SEQRA review.)

    In principle at least, there’s nothing to stop you from pursuing this course, of course unless you’re a fake and a fraud and a hypocrite who’s shilling for the company.

    But I’m sure that’s not even remotely possible! So how about it, I mean if you really care about Hudson’s underprivileged neighborhoods which have most certainly been negatively impacted by the City’s negligence in this regard.

    The City should be sued for allowing ongoing operations without a permit. Then, once the operations are shut down, the court for the current petition will get a fuller picture of the plaintiff’s actual behavior and attitudes. This will go a long way to explaining why it’s so hard to find candidates for the Planning Board who haven’t already expressed some opinion on the matter.

    1. If the Hudson community wants the support of Mussman or Roberts, they're going to have to raise their bid offer above Colarusso's.

      As a bonus, at that level of patronage, a free mayor is included.