Save the Pine Bush vigorously opposes this bill,
which would alienate 12.6 acres of high-quality Pine Bush habitat
and set a dangerous precedent by which land, already dedicated
to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, can be alienated from park
purposes and destroyed. Furthermore, this bill, rather
than enable or advance the SEQRA process, will effectively foreclose
an honest and comprehensive environmental review of the City
of Albany's options with respect to its existing landfill.
SEQRA review of the project can proceed without
a bill alienating parkland.
The proposed landfill expansion is an "action" under
SEQRA, requiring approval by the city of Albany, and the issuance
of permits, including a part 360 landfill permit, by the New
York State Department of environmental conservation. An environmental
review under SEQRA should be performed “[a]s early as possible
in the formulation of a proposal for an action”. ECL 8-0109
(4). Such a review can and should be undertaken immediately,
and there is no basis, either in law, or in the public policies
underlying SEQRA, why this review cannot be undertaken before
the City seeks Legislative action.
The proposed bill will affect the alternatives
and mitigation measures that must be considered as part of a
The proposed landfill expansion will destroy a critical portion
of the remaining Pine Bush habitat. Before such an action can
pass a SEQRA review, all reasonable alternatives and possible
mitigation measures must be considered. Alternatives include
the use of other land, not presently part of the Pine Bush Preserve.
Enacting legislation, in advance of the SEQRA process, authorizing
the alienation of certain land that is presently protected, forecloses
other alternatives. Furthermore, the Legislative authorization
of taking of a precious ecological resource, without the development
of an adequate factual record through the SEQRA process, will
constitute a justification for the city and the Department of
Environmental Conservation to conclude that the state has determined
that the Pine Bush parcel at stake is not worthy of protection.
Friends of Van Cortlandt Park v. City of New
York demonstrates the value of an environmental review before
enacting a bill that alienates parkland.
Five years ago, the New York State Court of Appeals, in Friends
of Van Cortlandt Park v. City of New York, 95 N.Y.2d 623,
provided an advisory opinion to the United States Second Circuit
Court of Appeals, stating that legislative action was necessary
before a water treatment plant could be sited in a city park.
In making this determination, the court relied upon the environmental
impact statement that had already been prepared, which demonstrated
the adverse impacts on the project.
While this case demonstrates that legislative action is necessary,
it also graphically illustrates the dangers of legislative action
before any environmental review is conducted. If the City
of New York had sought legislative approval, without conducting
the environmental review, the determination to alienate the land
from park purposes would have already been made before any review
had been conducted.