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Croton-on-Hudson Village Election

March 23, 2007

In anticipation of reader queries about Crotonblog’s reaction to the Croton-on-Hudson election, the editors of Crotonblog should like to inform readers that we are working on a feature article offering a detailed analysis of election results and the implications of that election for the future of Croton.

On March 31, 2007 10:03 AM, bojangles said:

Come on folks - the election is over. The Democrats lost big time and the Republican’s have control of policy making. So what?

There is no republican or democratic “right” for Croton. Leave that to national elections and it’s pretty well known that both sides of the aisle are guilty of “partisan” decisions.

In such a small village, something is either right or wrong for Croton; it’s either too expensive or not needed; it’s good to maintain the hometown spirit or its’ better to become an urban community. Those are the decisions that have to be made.

One thing is clear. Both democrats and republicans want to keep taxes down; both dems and repubs detest the idea of a waste transfer station in our village; both sides hate brown water; both want good recreation for kids to seniors; both want civility and neighborliness.

Working together regardless of politics is the only sensible way to govern.

On March 28, 2007 12:19 PM, weewill said:

Nope Devil’s Advocate, I don’t know!

I ‘m just assuming they have considered ALL0 ways to achieve control over any trash transfer station. The new majority, has made it clear that all negotiations and discussions with the principals of 1A Croton Point Avenue will end. We can only hope your suggestions are part of any backup plan the Mayor and Trustees Brennan and Konig have considered.

I certainly have not been privy to the recent “discussions” or “negotiations” that have been terminated (nor do I believe any of the public have been so informed.)

Now that they are history, perhaps the board can let the public know some of the details.

At $650.00 per hour, we deserve to know more specifically than just “litigation” about what our money has been spent on.

Georgianna

On March 28, 2007 10:03 AM, Devil's Advocate said:

Georgianna:

You would know. Have they to your knowledge brainstormed vehicle and traffic restrictions, given that the village teking control of Croton Point Avenue is a very recent development?

On March 28, 2007 9:52 AM, weewill said:

In addition to all the ideas and harping back and forth above, there is one other very clear point to be made.

You can bet that our high priced attorneys (and there have been many of them!) have considered all the suggestions and ideas you guys put forth. That’s their job and to believe they haven’t explored all these possibilities is pretty unrealistic.

To be sure, if they haven’t, then we’re paying them entriely too much money at $650.00 per hour. And lots of hours it’s been !

Georgianna

On March 28, 2007 9:20 AM, Devil's Advocate said:

Just the Facts: For the record I voted for the democratic slate. I am not at all affiliated with the Repbublican circus. You should change your name to “Just the Facts as I see them”

On March 28, 2007 9:07 AM, Just The Facts said:

Devil,

Well, it seems your name is very appropriate as you and your group lead the village straight down to financial ruin.

One suggestion, if you really want to use these backhanded ways as way to hurt/limit/shut down Regus, my suggestion to you, your supporters and particularly your candidates is to keep your mouths shut about the “real” purpose for doing so.

“Dynamic of the fight”, you got to be kidding. In any event, they are going to be operational. The only question is what they are going to be doing while operating and how much it continues to cost tax payers in legal fees. This is not a baseball game or a school yard fight, Regus means business as they have lots of $$$$$ on the line. Your actions and your posts are just strengthening their position, as it shows that the village government and their supporters are being arbitrary, biased and unreasoned in their regulation.

Your posts (or more appropriately similar statements echoed by your candidates) will be used by Regus to indicate that so called “valid road regulations” are nothing of the sort. Hundred of thousands of dollars (if not millions) later in legal fees, we will see how well your road regulations stand up.

On March 28, 2007 8:24 AM, Devil's Advocate said:

Just the Facts:

For a blogger named “Just the Facts”, your post seems based more on your own opinion than the facts.

Let me first say that my approach is just a concept for another weapon in our arsenal, not a detailed solution. However, it seems to me that if the justification for the vehicle and traffic law changes were rooted in tangible data such as traffic studies, analysis of truck traffic affects on road surfaces (all of which we probably already have), you are putting the burden on Regus to prove otherwise. It changes the whole dynamics of the fight. They are now on the defensive rather than the village.

The preemption you refer to is limited to the site and operations of Regus. It does not by default spill out into the village and its streets and roadways

Just as Croton cannot legislate controls over Regis operations, The federal government, STB, etc. cannot legislate a local municipality’s vehicle and traffic laws.

On March 27, 2007 10:01 PM, Just The Facts said:

Devil’s Advocate,

There is a very serious flaw with your plan. What you are ignoring is the concept of preemption. This village is playing Russian Roulette, and should we lose at the STB, local and state laws would be “preempted”. Do you honestly believe that BSR’s attorneys will not connect the dots and argue in yet another expensive and time consumming lawsuit that such road regulations are just a not so subtle end run around the federal laws that permit them to operate in a completely uncontrolled fashion?

Given the foolish and unprofessional way the republican majority handled the proposed eminent domain idea a year ago (e.g. not doing it in the proper order of first establishing the need for the property and then proposing a taking, rather then the other way around) do you really think that the “brain trust” running our local government will be able to pull this off? I think not.

On March 27, 2007 2:28 PM, voice of reason said:

Devil’s Advocate.

Possible - though possibly restraint of trade.

Another tactic that might help is to pass traffic ordances that control the hours of traffic for trucks over a certain size/weight. After all both Riverside Ave and Croton Point Ave are critical for rail commuters.

The problem with this idea is that while it would keep the trucks out of my way (including the car delivery trailer that periodically blocks South Riverside) it would compress the truck traffic into the rest of the day creating periods of even heavier volume.

On March 26, 2007 8:24 AM, Devil's Advocate said:

Voice of Reason, you really are the voice of reason and your posts are very well done.

My approach to this issue given what you have laid out and the likelihood that we will at least have a trans loading operation in Croton in the near future is to focus on Regus’s customers to hurt them in the pocket and force cooperation with the village.

Croton has recently took control of Croton Point Avenue and a stretch of South Riverside Avenue. This means that there is no way to access the Metro Enviro site without traveling on village roads.

Since the Croton taxpayers pay taxes to maintain these roads, we have the right to put restrictions (weight, vehicle type, purpose, methods) to protect our investment.

Through well crafted and strategic vehicle and traffic laws on our streets and vigilent enforcement, we could at the very least restrict access to the site to the 9A on and off ramps. By inconveniencing their customers and hurting there them in the pocket, it will in turn hurt Regis.

Voice of Reason et al, what are your thoughts?

On March 23, 2007 4:15 PM, voice of reason said:

Of course there is a question whether the increase in diesel fumes, asbestos particles and noise from transloading operations significantly increase current health risks caused by the proximity of the highway and the railroad yard.

30,000 trucks or just six (but at the top of rush hour) suck. But I have to say traffic impact from 1A has never really adversely affected my commute.

On March 23, 2007 4:09 PM, voice of reason said:

Oops - meant 1A Croton Point Ave

On March 23, 2007 4:01 PM, voice of reason said:

Well, it looks like Croton is going to be royally screwed when it comes to 1 Croton Point avenue. And no, I don’t mean because the Republicans won or the ‘no negotiations’ folks appear in the ascendant. It didn’t really matter who won the recent election because at best we can only expect a partial win – and perhaps a pyrrhic victory at that..

The key is understanding the position of the STB and the courts and the difference between transloading and a transfer station as defined by NY State’s Department of Environmental Protection.

If you read the controlling laws, the STB and Federal court decisions it becomes pretty clear. Transloading operations are OK. Transfer and processing operations are not (well, they are borderline as here case law is divided).

Another thing is equally clear. Both the courts and the STB hands are tied by Federal law. And, the STB wants the courts to decide these issues and the courts want the STB to take a clear stand. The ones who really need to act are the Congress but that’s not a happening thing either.

BSOR is a recognized legitimate railroad operating 32 miles of track leased from Erie County. It is therefore extremely likely that the STB will approve BSOR’s transloading operations in Croton. Transloading is simply the transfer of materials from one mode of transportation to another. In this case that means transloading from trucks to railcars. Both the courts and the STB would almost certainly consider this an operation essential to BSOR’s railroad operations and protected from local controls – and in fact BSOR is already engaged in transloading in Croton – though not C&D materials.

If this is the case, Croton will lose any control over the volume and schedule of truck traffic through Croton. Diesel fumes, brake pad asbestos particles, noise and traffic congestion will be out of our local control. The requirements for dust containment will also be out of local control and only the Clean Air act will control the environmental quality of the operation. Nor, will the State, County or Croton retain any control over the types of materials transloaded.

The only real question is whether we can retain control of any processing operations such as occur at a C&D transfer operation. Here we have a real shot at winning because both the courts and the STB are less likely to consider the processing of materials to be essential to BSOR’s railroad operations.

Litigate or negotiate, we can probably keep C&D processing out of Croton but in all likelihood we’ve already lost on the transloading issue. The only recourse is legislation at the Federal level, and the several bills in both the House and Senate are languishing in subcommittees with little chance of action any time soon.

There are a few things we can do to ameliorate the problems.

First, the State, County and Village can explore ways to legislate health, environmental and welfare controls. But this will be difficult because, as demonstrated by the recent decision in New Jersey, the STB and courts have determined that anything that requires permitting is right out the window. Anything that is too complicated or vague or too specific to the railroad or its operations is also a no-go. Its possible that with very careful crafting such legislation would hold up – but not before years of further litigation.

Second, we can push our Federal legislators to change the laws governing the STB. The current law even puts severe limits on Federal controls outside of the STB and its star chamber methods, and gives only a vague “normal police” authority to State and local authorities. But changing this law is going to take big lobbying and marketing efforts, time and big bucks.

Third, we can continue to pursue current litigation to make the Croton operations as expensive as possible, but what we’re likely to win is extremely limited, (which is not to say not worthwhile) and again is going to take time and money. Lots of both.

Fourth, we can continue to negotiate – as long as we remember who we are negotiating with and as long as we set goals and are clear on what issues are non-negotiable and where compromise is possible. I don’t hold much hope for these negotiations. What we hold as essential to our communal position is too diametrically opposed to the goals of NIR, Greentree and BSOR. But they may be worthwhile. Particularly since courts generally favor attempts at settlement outside of court, even if unsuccessful.

Fifth, we can continue to follow the existing code and permitting processes to try to set operational limits – pending the current appeal on tolling the deadline for re-applying for a special permit.

But any way you look at it, its going to be a long, ugly and expensive fight for Croton and any allies we can find – and our potential win is almost certainly very limited since transloading will, as is currently the case, going, in all probability, to be permitted no matter what we do, leaving us precious little control over what happens on that property. We can perhaps control or prevent processing and storage on site. But, even if we win on the C&D transfer battle we can look forward to the real possibility of pre-processed C&D materials being transloaded from long lines of trucks to railcars without any real environmental or health controls.

The most important thing we can do is to set clear goals and tactics – as a community – and then go forward together – arm in arm with the State, the County, our legislators in Washington and Albany and any other allies we can gather. But to do so we first need a clear consensus on the matter. I call on Mayor Schmidt and the Trustees to create workgroups of citizens and experts to develop these goals and tactics in a open, public forum such as was done on the Gateway project. Because, united we stand, divided we fall.



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