Friday, February 2, 2024

About the Floodplain Permit

Back in 2017, when Colarusso's proposed haul road was before the Greenport Planning Board, it came to light that constructing a new road through South Bay would require a floodplain permit. This information was uncovered by David Clouser, the engineer from Barton & Loguidice who was then consulting with the Hudson Planning Board. The path of the haul road through South Bay passes through a floodplain, and according to Hudson city code:
A development permit shall be obtained before the start of construction or any other development within the area of special flood hazard. . . . Application for a development permit shall be made on forms furnished by the local administrator and may include but not be limited to plans, in duplicate, drawn to scale and showing the nature, location, dimensions and elevations of the area in question, existing or proposed structures, fill, storage of materials, drainage facilities and the location of the foregoing.
The current haul road after Superstorm Sandy in 2012
Photo: South Bay Task Force
The code identifies the "local administer," whose responsibility it is to grant or deny development permits, as the "Executive Director of the Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency." 

Back in 2017, HCDPA had an executive director. It was Sheena Salvino, who was the executive director of both Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) and HCDPA. Gossips reported at the time:
Sheena Salvino, executive director of HCDPA, explained that a floodplain permit has not been issued in the six years since she has been here, and consequently she needs to research the permitting process. If information about the process cannot be found among the agency's records, a permitting process must be established. "Colarusso wants us to go faster than that," she said, "but we cannot go faster than that."
There is no evidence that anything about the process was ever found in HDCPA records or that a permitting process was established in 2017. Now, since the Planning Board approved the haul road with only one disserting vote, Colarusso is seeking its floodplain permit. JR Heffner of Colarusso was at the HCDPA meeting on Thursday, and Colarusso's attorney has submitted a FOIL request for all applications for floodplain permits and all documents related to those applications. Interestingly, P. J. Prendergast, engineer for Colarusso, seemed to be an authority on the history of floodplain permits when he told the Greenport Planning Board back in 2017 that Hudson Development Corporation "hasn't done a floodplain permit since 1982," when the L&B building, now the location of the Antique Warehouse and Hudson Brewing Company, was constructed.

Regarding the question of how the executive director of HCDPA can grant or deny Colarusso a floodplain permit when there is no executive director of HCDPA, mayor's aide Michael Hofmann indicated at Thursday's HCDPA meeting that, on the advice of legal counsel, the City was planning to appoint an executive director of HCDPA for this purpose. After the floodplain permit is granted or denied, the person appointed would presumably cease to be the executive director of HCDPA.

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