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City of Hudson negotiates salt halt with Cargill

Jan 13, 2011 7:05 am
In what some are already seeing as a possible environmental victory, the city of Hudson has reached a settlement with Cargill Inc. to end the transportation and storage of salt at the city’s waterfront along the Hudson River. A Register Star story on January 13 notes that the settlement dictates that Cargill will permanently cease the transportation of salt to the port for storage, as well as completely remove all salt currently being stored at the property.

City Attorney Cheryl Roberts said that under the settlement Cargill will be required to remove all salt stored outside by May of this year, and the company will be given until May 2012 to remove the salt being housed inside the 25,000-square-foot building which sits at the deep water port owned by Holcim cement company. The reasoning for this, explained Roberts and Moore, was to lessen the impact of the amount of truck traffic that will be required to remove all the salt from the property.

Separately, Moore and other council members passed a resolution January 10 pushing Hudson to purchase Holcim's waterfront property, which took Hudson Mayor Rick Scalera by surprise, according to Gossips of Rivertown and other sources.

“I’m delighted to know that one of the principal objectives for the waterfront will be achieved within a year and a half,” said Common Council President Don Moore. “I think that, where sometimes it appears that progress is less than likely, this is one clear example that progress can be achieved — and is.”

“This does not mean there will be no salt trucks tomorrow,” added Moore. “There’s a lot to take out, and it seemed to us that the tradeoff of giving them a little longer was that there weren’t as many trucks running through the streets — if we said you have to get it all out in three months, there would be an endless line of trucks. There’s a lot of salt in that shed.”

Under a special/conditional use permit issued by the Hudson Planning Commission in 1996 to Azko Nobel Salt Inc. (Cargill’s predecessor), Azko received clearance to unload salt from ships on the Hudson River for storage in the building on the property. Salt is also stored in outside areas of the parcel. The understanding was that the salt would be trucked approximately 50 yards from the salt ships to the storage facility along a one-acre concrete area paved on an existing bulkhead on the river.

Cargill has a lease through 2013 to store salt at the port, according to the settlement agreement.

Just a few months ago, in September 2010, City Code Enforcement Officer Peter Wurster found Cargill to be in violation of the conditional use permit upon receiving numerous complaints from residents that the company was trucking salt through city streets rather than solely receiving deliveries from ships on the river (a practice the company stopped about two years ago, by Mayor Richard Scalera’s estimate). Scalera, Wurster and Moore all witnessed firsthand the salt being transported to and from the facility over land via trucks rather than just receiving salt from barges.

Moore also reported receiving testimony from residents that the salt trucks were driving through the city as early as 4 or 5 a.m., while Scalera said the city allows trucks to pass through no earlier than 7 a.m.

Scalera said Cargill has been amicable throughout the process, and that the company “took the city’s concerns seriously, agreeing to the terms of the settlement without delay.”

“They’ve been extremely cooperative from the time that we indicated that they were in violation down there,” Scalera told the Register-Star. “They did their due diligence ... instead of fighting it legally, they took the high road and agreed with us and offered this conclusion, which means ending all the salt being piled down there and removing the rest.”

Moore said in a prepared statement that the city is expected to pass its long-awaited Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) in the next few months, and that Cargill’s removal of the salt at the Holcim dock will create a breadth of opportunities for the waterfront.

“The LWRP has been amended to reflect the fact that the city no longer supports use of prime waterfront land for the storage of salt,” said Moore. “Through the LWRP, the city is working ... to obtain access to and ownership of some of Holcim’s riverfront property, including some of the land currently utilized for salt storage. Passage of the LWRP and removal of the salt storage operation will open up many possibilities for public use and enjoyment of the waterfront.”

Scalera commended Roberts and Wurster for their efforts to enforce city code and quickly resolve the issue.

“Now we can turn our attention to passing the LWRP, rerouting the remaining truck traffic going to the port and continuing development of our waterfront with a vibrant mix of compatible commercial, recreational and shipping uses,” Scalera said.