Thursday, April 11, 2024

With Hudson, It's Always Something

Everything proposed in Hudson to sure to have its detractors, and the apartment building being proposed for Fairview Avenue between Parkwood and Oakwood boulevards is no exception. Last Thursday, the group proposing the building held an informational session in the back room of Wunderbar for residents of the Boulevards. The announcement of the event, shared on Facebook, indicated there would be "a short presentation followed by a Q&A session." It was probably hoped that this meeting would allay people's fears about a three-story, 30-unit apartment building abutting a neighborhood of single-family dwellings, but that seems not to have been the case. At the Planning Board meeting on Tuesday, there were still many fears and concerns voiced by residents whose houses are in close proximity to the proposed building.

Chip Verspyck, who lives at 5 Oakwood Boulevard, a property that abuts the site of the proposed building, expressed concern that the building would shadow his solar panels and his backyard. (The applicant agreed to do a shade simulation to determine the effect of the building on his property.) Verspyck also expressed concern about traffic trying to get on Fairview Avenue, people parking on his street, and the impact of the building on the sewer system, memorably commenting, "There's gonna be a ton of people living in this building, and that's a lot of shit."

Sean Allison, who lives at 13 Oakwood Boulevard, a house previously owned first by Christina Malisoff and then Ruth Moser, argued that Oakwood, Parkwood, and Glenwood boulevards are "designed neighborhoods"--"designed for the people who live there." He elaborated, "Every house has a driveway, every house has a garage, every house has parking. That's why there are no cars parked on the street." Allison objected to the idea of cars associated with the proposed apartment building being parked on his street. At various points, in his statement Allison called the proposed building a "tumor of a project," an "unbelievable eyesore," and an "absolutely malignant project." Allison maintained that there isn't a housing shortage in Hudson. "There's housing," he declared, "there's no money." He questioned specifically the need for market rate housing "in a town where the only job that people can get is bartending or working in one of the hotels." Allison had a great deal more to say, and all his comments can be heard here, beginning at 1:19:54.

Carmine "Cappy" Pierro, who is a cousin to Lou Pierro, the principal of the development group, also spoke during the public hearing. Although the address of the site of the proposed building was included in the litany of addresses Pierro recited as evidence of his standing in Hudson (Pierro moved to Taghkanic in 2013), he did not acknowledge having any financial interest in the project. Instead, reminding everyone of his past service on the Planning Board, Pierro talked about the zoning district and what was permitted in the General-Commercial District, declaring, "You could put almost anything there." Later he said, "That land could be a gas station right now." He reminded the Planning Board of all the projects with parking issues that the body had already approved. He concluded his statements by pointing out, "All the other housing projects in Hudson have PILOTs--payment in lieu of taxes. . . . This project is doing it on their own."

Michele Pierro, Lou Pierro's sister, who acknowledged her kinship to the applicant, claimed the project was "really done thinking about what would be best for the community." She talked about the Hudson City School District having trouble recruiting people to teach in Hudson because prospective teachers couldn't find a place to live. She asserted that this project was "giving young professionals a place to live."

All the public comments made about the proposed project can be heard here, beginning at 1:13:12.  

The drama surrounding this proposal, which the Planning Board has dubbed "the Boulevards," demonstrates how relationships can change in a small city. In November 2019, the Planning Board denied site plan approval to Cappy Pierro's plan to create a self storage facility on a portion of the land now the site of the proposed apartment building. 

At that time, Walter Chatham was the chair of the Planning Board. Pierro reacted to being denied site plan approval by telling Chatham, with some hostility, "You're gonna be gone in sixty-two days," intimating that he had some inside knowledge about the intentions of then mayor-elect Kamal Johnson. (Appointing the chairs of the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals is one of the mayor's duties.) Today, in this plan for the same location, in which Pierro seems to have some interest, Walter Chatham is the architect designing the building.



  1. Hudson seems to be a target for apartment building developers these days. It's the tip of an iceberg. What's wrong with building another house? Not enough profit? There should be a moratorium on any new apartment buildings.

    1. While many of us would like to keep Hudson at the current density, the economic and political realities are that as long as housing costs are realitively high (a nationwide issue), there will be a push to increase multifamily units. So instead of dreaming about a moratorium, we should work together and encourage smart development. This project seems like a fine proposal. I would much rather have modest and modern market rate apartments for working people and young professionals than doubling the Bliss housing projects, or subsidized (via PILOTS) faux luxury for Galvan. Cappy is right, they are doing this on their own, will pay their fair share in property taxes, and in a part of town zoned for multi-family. Single family zoning has been getting a lot of the blame for housing issues, let's build up where it makes sense, because you won't like the other options.

    2. I wanted to say, I agree with Union Jack above and find the vitriolic response to this project upsetting.
      This is a modest, appropriately-scaled, as-of-right residential development, not requesting a PILOT or other city concession to my knowledge. It's exactly the type of project we should be encouraging in Hudson.
      Based on a quick search of Gossips, seeing some early massing models... it's not God's gift to architecture but the overall mass would frankly improve the otherwise abysmal traffic sewer that is Fairview Ave / Route 9. This building would not feel that different from the 2-story apartment houses, on steep front yards, at the base of Fairview & Green St.
      Hudson is so small and these 30 new apartments are needed if we hope to make any progress toward a more affordable, diverse future for Hudson.
      As Bill says below, if you don't like this as-of-right project... get involved and change the Zoning Ordinance.

  2. First, the council should vote to reinstate the off-street requirement for developments which was unwisely nixed by a former council.
    Hotel guests and apartment dwellers being forced to park on the street is a recipe for an unlivable city, angry neighbors, accidents from clogged streets.and a less walkable and less attractive city. Parking lots covered in asphalt suck, but the alternative is no better if there is a shortage of parking to begin with.
    If just one of Galvan's proposed apartment buildings at 7th & State is ever fully occupied, there will be at least 100 vehicles needing parking. Convenient parking will not be found in the proposed lot for tenants at Washington & 6th - that's too far of a walk away from the building. Convenient parking will be looked for on State, on 7th and on 6th Street, where residents in houses are already filling up those streets with parked cars. It's going to be a crap show, all because the council (for Galvan's benefit, of course) did away with a simple, effective and important rule designed to help develop Hudson smartly and sensibly with the long-term big picture in mind. As a result, the Planning Board has been forced to approve bad proposals with inadequate or no off-street parking.

  3. Except that we in this neighborhood do not believe this project will generate enough parking so as not to spillover into Oakwood increasing congestion. It's a very narrow winding street. There are areas of no sidewalks.
    The street has been increasingly overwhelmed by school busses, teachers,
    students and parents all trying to access the
    school all at once. And that repeats in the pm.
    It is near impossible now to turn left onto rte
    9, the rising sun blinds motorists in that direction /oncoming school busses wind their way because of cars parking willy nilly on both the street. Traffic stacks up on rte 9 trying to turn onto Oakwood decreasing visibility. What will construction vehicles add? There is no traffic light needed at the rte 9 end of Oakwood? It's been needed for years.
    Lastly there is no enforcement on the stop signs that have been installed in recent years, no one has been hurt yet , it's just a matter of time.

  4. "He reminded the Planning Board of all the projects with parking issues that the body had already approved." The parking issue has been a long time coming from years back when the PB and ZBA waived the parking requirements for various restaurants and lodging establishments. Precedence has been set and there's no going back. In typical Hudson fashion these naysayers are crying NIMBY, but when other developments have been proposed that go against the grain for those residents in other parts of the city they remained silent.
    Bill is right that parking is going to get a whole lot worse in Hudson: Pocketbook Factory (hotel), Upper Depot district (apartments), former Elks Lodge (hotel), former senior living/The Home (hotel), Galvan hotel at 4th/Warren. Where are all these people going to park? But the Pandora's box has been opened.

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