In November 2021, the Planning Board made a positive declaration in the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process, requiring A. Colarusso & Sons to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). Colarusso responded by filing a lawsuit against the Planning Board, seeking an annulment of the Planning Board's positive declaration. Earlier this week, on Tuesday, August 9, a decision in the case was handed down by Acting Supreme Court Judge Henry F. Zwack. The gist of the decision is this: "[T]he haul road project is not the subject of further SEQRA review by the City of Hudson, and site plan approval is directed to proceed."
Colarusso argues its repair of the waterfront bulkhead should be classified as a Type II action, reflecting the limited dock repair that it was, which does not require an SEIS. Colarusso also argues that the City failed to properly designate the Common Council as the lead agency as required under the plain language of SEQRA. The determination was therefore arbitrary and capricious, effected by error of law and made in excess of jurisdiction. Colarusso also asserts that the Planning Board is also bound by the Town of Greenport's Planning Board negative determination as to the haul road and must issue a final determination of the pending site plan application. Colarusso also asserts that the Planning Board's assessment that the dock repair constituted a Type I action was arbitrary and capricious, not supported by the record, and the result of bias against Colarusso in that two Planning Board members were conflicted because of their relationship with a group opposing the commercial dock and mining operation, known as "Our Hudson Waterfront." Colarusso further argues that the Mind [sic] Land Reclamation Law preempts the Planning Board's attempts to regulate Colarusso's operation, Colarusso has constitutionally vested rights, and the declaration is an unlawful restriction of interstate commerce. [Pages 8-9]
Information about the Mined (not Mind) Land Reclamation Law can be found here.
Colarusso has yet to begin the approved improvements to the haul road, which includes portions within the City of Hudson, as it continues to be embroiled in City actions which make forward movement on the project nearly impossible. According to Colarusso's counsel, at a regular meeting of the City's Planning Board on July 14, 2020, the haul road improvements had not begun because the City has not approved their site plan for two way traffic on that portion of the haul road that enters the City. Counsel further stated that he would not advise his clients to complete improvements to the haul road if two way traffic could not continue into the City. Counsel further noted that the County Planning Board has approved the haul road, which will include two lane traffic. The City's Planning Board erred when it attempted to equate the haul road, an already SEQR approved project, with the conditional use permit sought by Colarusso for the dock. [Pages 12-13]
The entire decision can be found here.
This is not good news for the Hudson waterfront.