State returns waterfront plan, with still more steps ahead

HUDSON–At the May 17 Common Council Meeting Council President Don Moore announced that the state has finally completed its review of the city’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) and returned a revised version to the City of Hudson, with recommended changes outlined in red ink.

The council plans to spend two weeks reviewing the changes before holding at a special meeting to discuss it as a body and vote, if they are ready, on the environmental review and impact statement.

The council does not plan to share the revised document with the public, although the public must be given a minimum of 10 days to comment on the accepted final generic environmental impact statement (FGEIS). The Common Council will consider have to decide whether to adopt the LWRP but only after a final public hearing on zoning changes the program would require. And before the council can approve new zoning, both the city and county planning boards must review and issue recommendations.

It could take until September, said Mr. Moore.

By now the program has been some 24 in the making, but the end of what Mr. Moore called “an arduous and long process,” may finally be in sight. First, though, the council has to get hold of more hard copies of the recommended revisions, which were scarce at the meeting. The four copies in hand were given to council members whose names were drawn out of a hat. The remaining four aldermen will have to wait until Thursday to begin to read through the several inches of two documents, the FGEIS  and the LWRP.

Mr. Moore said the Common Council will have until June 1 to review the documents. At the June 1 special meeting members will meet with BFJ Planners, the urban planning consultants from Manhattan who helped draft the document, and Cheryl Roberts, the city’s attorney for the LWRP, who was appointed by Mayor Richard Scalera. The special meeting will be open to the public but feedback from citizens will not be welcome at that time.

On June 2 the public will finally have a chance to read the document–which will be posted online- that so many residents have commented on and tried to shape during the long LWRP process.

“We all want to see the documents,” said Sam Pratt, who cited freedom of information law. “There is no reason to withhold the documents,” he said.

Mr. Pratt the LWRP process “is supposed to be based on consensus. Public acceptance is crucial. Make it available tonight. Why encourage more public distrust? You can foil if it includes tabulations of data and public comment.”

“On advice of counsel, that is the ruling I have made,” said Mr. Moore.

He said that once the council has agreed on the zoning changes the city will send the document back to state for final approval.” It is that step he expects could happen by September.

Soon after the approval of the LWRP, new laws implementing the changes called for in the document may be adopted and a land deal between the city and Holcim, the multinational cement manufacturing company that owns a key part of the waterfront  may be finalized.

Peter Jung advised the council to consider a moratorium on waterfront development.

Mr. Jung said he also worried about the possibility of toxic deposits in the South Bay and warned the council to be careful. The city of Hudson could end up with a $5-million bill for remediation of toxic waste, he said.

Mr. Pratt said he received an email from George Stafford of the state Department of State assuring him that the public will have opportunities to comment on the documents and the proposed zoning once the Common Council has determined that the documents are ready to be adopted.

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