Planning Board meeting with Scenic Hudson officials on July 19

Board also pushes Serroukas on FoodTown/Post Office plans

By Kevin E. Foley

The Cold Spring Planning Board last week took two significant steps toward opening the likely last chapter in the long-running approval process for Scenic Hudson’s application to create a low-impact historic exhibit within the boundaries of the environmental organization’s 87-acre West Point Foundry Preserve. The board voted first to schedule a public hearing for Aug. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Putnam County Historical Society & Foundry School Museum, 63 Chestnut St., to receive public comment on the proposal, which has been the subject of numerous board meetings and workshops over a four-year period.  A public hearing is usually a prelude to a board decision on an applicant’s project.
       Meeting July 19, the board then also voted to make a “negative declaration” under New York State’s Environmental Quality Review law (SEQR) certifying, as the “lead agency” in the review process, that the proposed project poses no threat to the local environment, including wildlife, plants, air quality, the river and the village itself.  This move comes after other agencies such as the federal U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Conservation signed off on the project. 
       While the public hearing vote was unanimous, two board members pointedly abstained over the “negative declaration” although they raised no environmental concerns in doing so.  Joseph Immorlica and Parge Sgro, who have both raised many points of contention during the board’s examination of Scenic Hudson’s plans, argued the public hearing should be held before declaring the project posed no environmental threats. But Chairman Joseph Barbaro, and members Arnie Saari and Richard Weissbrod agreed with the board’s engineering consultant, Rob Cameron, that SEQR didn’t require a public hearing and further that a “negative declaration” was a technical decision separate from the actual approval of the project for which the public input is intended. Scenic Hudson officials Rita Shaheen and Steve Rosenberg expressed appreciation for both of the board actions and said they looked forward to the interaction with the public. Scenic Hudson will present details of their proposal at the public hearing.

FoodTown and the Post Office
On another front, the Planning Board agreed to send a letter to the owner of FoodTown Plaza, Gus Serroukas, asking that he submit a new site plan for the property within the next six weeks.  Normally the board waits for applicants to submit or resubmit plans on their own timetable, but in this case the board is anxious to see the developer’s plans and how they deal with retaining the post office and expanding the supermarket.  Serroukas did not adhere to a board request that he grant an open lease to the post office pending the outcome of the site plan approval process, instead the lease expires on Dec.31, 2011. In describing the board’s goal Chairman Barbaro said, “We want a post office, FoodTown and satisfied community members who live there.” 
Photo by K. Foley

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Foley is the former managing editor of The Current and a partner in foleymyers communications in Northampton, Massachusetts.