Monday, May 9, 2022

The City and Colarusso

Later today, at the informal meeting of the Common Council, a resolution will be introduced authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with A. Colarusso & Sons for the upgrades to the intersection at Green Street and Fairview Avenue. That's the second civic project Colarusso will be doing in the City of Hudson. In April 2021, the company was awarded the contract for the construction involved in the redesign of the entrance to Promenade Hill.

Last evening, a reader sent me the picture below, accompanied by this message: "I'm at the waterfront near the Colarusso dock watching a tug belching out clouds of diesel exhaust. It is MUCH worse than this photo indicates, and the smell is awful."

The City of Hudson and A. Colarusso & Sons have a curious relationship. If the Council approves awarding the contract for the intersection improvements to Colarusso, and it's likely it will because Colarusso was the only bidder, it would mean that two major civic projects are being done by a company that has sued the City twice for trying to impose on the company compliance with the City's zoning law. The first lawsuit, brought against the City in September 2017, was dismissed early in 2019. The second lawsuit, filed in December 2021, is still in the courts. Both have to do with the Planning Board's review of Colarusso's operations on the waterfront. What triggered the current lawsuit was the Planning Board's positive declaration in the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process. A positive declaration means that the Planning Board found at least one significant adverse environmental impact, and the environmental scrutiny of the project must continue.

Regarding the status of the current lawsuit, in March, attorneys for the City filed a partial motion to dismiss. The following is quoted from the Preliminary Statement in that document:
Colarusso is seeking judicial intervention in the hopes that the Court will act as a deus ex machina and make problems Colarusso created disappear so that it can do whatever it wants with its property. That is not how land use law works.
What happened is simple: in 2014, Colarusso purchased riverfront industrial property, a commercial dock, that was a nonconforming use under the applicable zoning ordinance. The ordinance required a conditional use permit from the Planning Board in the event Colarusso altered, improved, or rebuilt any portion of the property. From 2015-16, Colarusso engaged in such work without first obtaining a conditional use permit. In January 2017, the City of Hudson ordered Colarusso to remedy the matter by obtaining a permit. Colarusso took the City and the Planning Board to court, and lost. The prior court order specifically stated that Colarusso needed to obtain a conditional use permit, and that it was rational for the Planning Board to conclude “that SEQRA review for continued commercial dock operations is necessary.”. . . When the Planning Board, after appropriate hearings and review, issued a SEQRA decision that Colarusso did not like, namely, that Colarusso would need to prepare an SDEIS [supplemental draft environmental impact statement], Colarusso commenced this proceeding. Colarusso’s challenge to SEQRA review of its dock application is not ripe for judicial review at this time. The current Planning Board decision, a positive declaration, is a non-final, interim step in the process. To the extent that Colarusso wishes to make SEQRA review go away entirely, that issue was squarely decided against it by the prior court order. 
According to information received by Gossips, the next appearance date for this lawsuit is scheduled for late May.

In the meantime, it's business as usual. Colarusso keeps running its gravel trucks through the city and being an industrial presence on a waterfront most wish were recreational, and the City keeps awarding municipal contracts to Colarusso.


  1. How about a moratorium on city contracts with Colarusso until the legal matters with them are behind us, no matter how long it takes? That's just a sensible thing to do.
    DPW hired Colarusso to repave several streets and create curb ramps (at least two of which, at 6th and State, are already full of cracked concrete!) last November, as they do every two years. That contract was worth at least $200,000, though it was all paid for by the State of New York under the CHIPs program.
    Bill Huston

  2. Sounds like Colarusso has the City in a choke hold. Aren't their any other companies that the City can use? Why put up with shoddy work and use a company that ignores the rules?