Wednesday, January 11, 2023

New Faces on the Planning Board

On Sunday night, when Gossips published its "Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead," no Zoom link for Tuesday's Planning Board meeting had yet been published. Last night at 6:00 p.m., when the meeting was scheduled to start, there was still no link available on the City of Hudson website. A few minutes into the meeting, as a result of some email networking, Gossips got the link and was able to join the meeting on Zoom, but the lack of general access to the link was unfortunate, particularly since the meeting included a public hearing. The meeting was described on the city website as "hybrid," so there was a reasonable expectation that people could comment during the public hearing on Zoom, but that was not possible because the link was never provided. Nevertheless, after a public hearing that consisted only of a question from the owner of the adjacent property who came to the meeting in person, the Planning Board approved the lot line adjustments sought for 202 and 204 Warren Street, the 1903 Brousseau Buildings now owned by Galvan Civic I.  

This year, the Planning Board has two new members. The terms of Larry Bowne and Clark Wieman expired at the end of 2022, and the new appointees are Randall Martin and Bettina Young.

Randall Martin is a familiar figure on the Hudson scene. He has previously served on the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, the Hudson City Democratic Committee, the Housing Task Force, and the Local Planning Committee for the DRI. If there are any new Galvan projects coming before the Planning Board, Martin may have a perceived conflict of interest. He and his family used to live in one of the three houses owned by Galvan on North Seventh Street which were recently demolished. He now resides in a different Galvan property. In 2020, his business, Martin Audio Visual Services, was the recipient of a grant from the Galvan Foundation.

By contrast, Bettina Young is new to city government and regulatory boards. She is a school psychologist in the Catskill Central School District and lives in Hudson.

Addressing the new members, Theresa Joyner, who was reappointed as chair of the Planning Board, assured them, "We are all residents, just regular people in Hudson. No question is a bad question. So if someone comes to present, and you don't understand, ask that question. Nobody should be embarrassed. We're not going to have a two-man board. We're going to have a seven-man board." In her mention of a "two-man board," Joyner may have been referring to Bowne and Wieman. Bowne is an architect, and Wieman a project manager and urban planner. Both brought a wealth of relevant experience and expertise to the Planning Board.

Although live access to the Zoom meeting was limited, the recording is now available on YouTube. Click here to view it. 


  1. Interesting, right? If you are a Planning Board member and your landlord is the city's largest landowner with hundreds of tenants, and more on the way, as well as a busy developer with a seemingly endless slew of proposals before the Board, of course you think twice about voting NO on a proposal of theirs, even if you think it is a proposal that never should have seen the light of day, like 140 apartments on 7th street with no off street parking nearby, or a 30 room hotel in downtown Hudson with no designated off street parking at all. It would weigh on any reasonable person's mind. Conflict of interest, indeed.

  2. I wonder who will be briefing the members on the complicated and controversial Colausso issue? The previous Board fumbled it badly, in spite of the fact that they had plenty of experience with the matter.

  3. Who needs people who know anything about architecture, project management, zoning and urban planning on a Planning Board. When you have self-serving schemes to protect, people who know things just get in the way.

  4. 1.

    For the new Planning Board members and residents still unfamiliar with Hudson's 2011 waterfront program, the "LWRP's" Core Riverfront Zoning District was specifically designed to accommodate two directions of travel across the South Bay causeway. The goal was to utilize the landowner's private road and thus rid gravel trucks from city streets other than the state truck route.

    Significantly, however, the new Zoning District would also preserve the road's existing width of ONE LANE. Without this compromise, the creation of the C-R District would never have happened. That's because a single lane requires each truck to wait its turn, thus serving as a natural rather than a regulatory constraint over runaway industrial development at Hudson's waterfront.

    So the first mental hurdle for new Planning Board members is to distinguish the concept "one lane" from "two -way," which is not easily done! Nevertheless, the distinction must be made as there are those who will exploit any confusion.

    A second exploitable confusion concerns the qualifier "haul," from the misnomer phrase "haul road." THERE IS NO SUCH ROAD outside of the Planning Board application. But even if the application is rejected in the end, usage of the term in common discourse will lead to an unfounded recognition in future NYS permits of a technical "mine road" to the Hudson waterfront.

    The above distinctions require self-discipline among Planning Board members in particular. But to the extent that anyone in Hudson conflates "two way" with "one lane," or cannot resist using the adjective "haul" for the existing "private road" (as specified in the Code), these individuals show themselves as easily gulled, or even agreeably manipulated, by special interests.

  5. 2.

    The fact that the current landowner has since lost a court judgement which denies its previously permitted right to conduct any and all of its dock operations in Hudson (which by definition includes the private road) was never acted upon by City Hall. Whether due to a misreading of the judgement, or perhaps overlooked as a favor which consequently put undue pressure on the Planning Board, the City of Hudson allowed the Colarusso company to continue its operations only to end up the target of a second lawsuit.

    But because Colarusso's second lawsuit is identical with the first one - and for that reason must be thrown out by the NYS Appellate Division - we know that the plaintiff who remains a Planning Board applicant is merely suing for time and for the arrival of new Planning Board members.

    The new members will hear a simplified tale that without the board's approval of a new two-lane road the applicant is forced to use city streets (see: LWRP). Equally false is the applicant's claim that it may not use its existing private road in two directions, which is clearly contradicted by the Zoning District's specification of "ingress and egress" for the road.

    After nine years and [soon-to-be] two failed lawsuits against the city, we can safely say that these two central claims are straightout lies, whether circulated by Colarusso's lawyers or by the always self-interested Supervisor Mussman. But they are effective lies, so all should beware!

    Given the enduring climate of knowingly dishonest claims, whenever it's new Aldermen or new Planning Board members anybody who values justice - including environmental justice - will be reasonably concerned.

  6. This mess could have been avoided if the Hudson Planning Board had acted with conviction years ago. Colarusso bluntly refused to provide the PB with the most basic details of the proposed operation, claiming that their truck traffic data was "private, proprietary information. If the PB had a competent attorney and a backbone at the time, they could have tossed the Colarusso application in the trash right then and there. But the Board continued the review process for another 4 years before they finally demanded a proper truck study from the applicant. That study revealed the truth that many of us had known all along-- Colarusso is planning a huge expansion of their gravel shipping activities, with huge consequences for our waterfront.

    There are two bad actors in this ridiculous drama-- a devious, deceitful applicant, and a chickenshit planning board.

  7. There was always a risk while holding out for the perfect - i.e. the enforced shutting down of operations accomplished by the first lawsuit followed by the board's rejection of the application - against the merely good of the LWRP compromise.

    If the previous Planning Board with knowledgeable members proved incapable of bringing about the obvious, then aiming for the good is all that's left.

    Given the planned two-lane private road, people must understand that a huge expansion of gravel operations at Hudson's waterfront is inevitable, whether for Colarusso or for the next owners.

    But why would anyone thoughtlessly agree to this, especially as the city's entire Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and LWRP zoning amendments were designed to prevent this outcome?

    I think it's because Americans no longer cultivate respect for those who came before, if we ever did. To think, now, of the decades of local citizens' hard work being cast aside thoughtlessly by the imperious attitude of "we're the ones we've been waiting for" is to behold a profound pointlessness, a nihilism. Following that odious notion which many in Hudson will always ascribe to, forebearance is not a virtue; nor is respect for one's neighbors; nor is learning about whatever preceded us (cf. LWRP).

    As Edmund Burke said long ago, all innovation is ultimately selfish. I'd only add that karma is a bitch.