DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT for
Avila House Independent Senior Campus Lead Agency:

 

City of Albany Planning Board

21 Lodge Street, Albany, New York 12207 Contact: Nicholas Dilello (518) 434-2532 ext. 28

 

Project Sponsor:

 

First Colun1bia, LLC 26 Century Hill Drive Latham, New York 12110-2128, (518) 213-1000

 

Report Contributors:

 

Hershberg and Hershberg 40 Colvin Avenue Albany, New York 12206 Responsible for "Pine Bush" Contact: Daniel Hershherg (518) 459-3096

Transportation Concepts, LLP 152 Barrett Street Schencctady, New York 12305 Responsible for "Traffic" Contact: Mark Gregory (518) 347-2753

Collamer and Associates, Inc. 73 Dove Strect Albany, New York 12210 Contact: Jeanette Collamer Responsible for "Cultural Resource Investigation" (518) 426-9624

Ecological Solutions, LLC 1248 Southford Road Southbury, CT 06488 Responsible for "Wetland Delineation" and "Species Study" (203) 264-8691

Shanley, Sweeney, Reilly & Allen, P.C. 10 Thurlow Terrace Albany, New York 12203 Contact: Robert Sweeney, Esq. Responsible for Legal Counsel (518) 463-1415

 

Kormos and Company 12 Overlook Drive Voorheesville, New York 12186 Responsible for "Market Feasibility Analysis" (5 1 8) 439-8903

 

Datc of Notice of Completion of DEIS: June 21, 2001

 

Date of Public Hearing: July 12, 2001

 

DEIS Comment Deadline Date: July 23, 2001

Submittal Date: June, 2001

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Page

Cover Sheet

Executive Summcary ES-1

 

SECTION 1 DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPOSED ACTION 1
  1.1 Site Location 1  
  1.2 General Project Description 1  
  1.3 Construction Activities 3  
    1.3.1 Clearing and Grubbing 3
    1.3.2 Grading and Earthwork 3
    1.3.3 Footings and Foundation 3
    1.3.4 Trench and Install Utilities 3
    1.3.5 Building Construction 3
    1.3.6 Site Improven1ents, Roads, Parking 4
    1.3.7 Landscape Development and Amenities 4
    1.3.8 Off-site Road Improvements 4
  1.4 Operational Activities 4  
    1.4.1 Access 4
    1.4.2 Waste Disposal 4
    1.4.3 Water and Sewer Service 5
    1.4.4 Stormwater Management 5
  1.5 Purpose and Need for Project 5  
  1.6 Required Permits and Approvals 5  
SECTION 2 EXISTINGENVIRONMENTAL SETTING 8
Natural Resources      
  2.1 Geology, Soils and Topography 8  
    2.1.1 Geology 8
    2.1.2 Soils 9
    2.1.3 Topography 9
  2.2 Hydrology and Water Quality 9  
    2.2.1 Groundwater 9
    2.2.2 Surface Water 10
  2.3 Vegetation and Wetlands 10  
  2.4 Wildlife 10  
  2.5 Climate 11  
  2.6 Air Quality 11  
  2 7 Pine Bush 12  
    2.7.1 Background 12
    2.7.2 The Management Plan 13
    2.7.3 EDR Report 14
    2.7.4 Prior Precedent 15
    2.7.5 Implementation Guidelines 15
    2.7.6 l 1ershherg and HershLerg Updated Study 16
    2.7.7 The Commission's Prior Review 17
    2.7.8 The Site 17
    2.7.9 Conclusion 18
  2.8 Transportation and Traff~c 18  
    2.8.1 Description of Roadway Network 18
    2.8.2 Existing Traffic Operations 20
    2.8.3 Capacity Analysis 20
  2.9 Noise 20  
  2.10 Land Use and Zoning 20  
    2.10.1 City of Albany Zoning Ordinance 20
    2.10.2 Existing Land Use 21
  2.11 Cultural Resources 21  
    2.11.1 Historic and Archaeological Resources 21
    2.11.2 Visual Resources 21
  2.12 Community Facilities and Services 22  
    2.12.1 Police Protection 22
    2.12.2 Fire Protection 22
    2.12.3 Ambulance Service 22
    2.12.4 Medical Services 22
    2.12.5 Solid Waste Disposal 23
    2.12.6 Water Service 23
    2.12.7 Sewer Service 23
    2.12.8 Electric, Natural Gas and Telephone Services 23
SECTION 3 POTENTIAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED ACTION AND MITIGATlNG MEASlJRES  
Natural Resources     24
  3.1 Geology, Soils and Topography 24    
  3.2 Hydrology and Water Quality 25    
  3.3 Vegetation and Wetlands 25    
  3.4 Wildlife 26    
  3.5 Climate 26    
  3.6 Air Quality 27    
  3.7 Pine Bush 27    
    3.7.1 Assumption: An Ecologically Viable Preserve has Been Assembled 27  
    3.7.2 Implementation Guidelines 28  
    3.7.3 Individual Analysis of Projects' Impacts on Completion and Configuration of the Preserve 30  
    3.7.4 Analysis of Cumulative Impacts of Pending Projects 32
  ~ 3.7.4.1 Analysis of the Impact of Pending for Lands Classified &"Full Protection" 33
    3.7.4.2 Funding 34  
  3.8 Transportation and Traffic 35    
  3.9 Noise 37    
  3.10 Demographics 37    
  3.11 Land Use and Zoning 38    
  3.12 Cultural Resources 38    
    3.12.1 Archaeological Resources 39
    3.12.2 Visual Resources 39
  3.13 Community Facilities and Services   39
    3.13.1 Police Protection 39
    3.13.2 Fire Protection 40
    3.13.3 Ambulance Service 40
    3.13.4 Medical Services  
    3.13.5 Solid Waste Disposal 41  
    3.13.6 Water Service 41  
    3.13.7 Sewer Service 42  
    3.13.8 Electric, Natural Gas and Services 42  
  3.14 Municipal Revenues and Finances 43  
SECTION 4 ALTERNATIVES 44  
  4. I No-Action Alternative 44  
  4.2 Alternative Scale 44  
    4.2.1 +350 Unit Senior Housing Campus 45
    4.2.2 +278 Unit Senior Housing Campus 45
  4.3 Alternative Land Uses 45  
  4.4 Alternative Site Layouts 46  
    4.4.1 Layouts: Pertaining to Site Topography 46
    4.4.2 Layout Pertaining to Building Sizes 47
SECTION 5 ADVERSE IMPACTS WHICH CANNOT BE AVOIDED 48
SECTION 6 IRREVERSIBLE AND IRRETRIEVABLE COMMITMENT OFRESOURCES 49
SECTION 7 GROWTH INDUCING ASPECTS OF THE PROPOSED ACTION 50
SECTION 8 EFFECT OF THE PROPOSED ACTION ON THE USE AND CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 51
         
LIST OF FlGURES        
Site Location Map 1      
Site Plan 2      
         
APPENDICES        
Appendix A TRAFFIC STUDY      
  Appendix B MARKET FEASIBILITY STUDY  
  Appendix C STORMWATER MANAGEMENT REPORT  
  Appendix D ARCHAEOLOGICAL REPORT  
  Appendix E WETLANDS REPORT  
  Appendix F PINE BUSH/SPECIES REPORT  
  Appendix G ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN AND RESEARCH REPORT  
  Appendix H HERSHBERG REPORT  
  Appendix I MINIMUM AREA REQUIREMENTS FOR LONG-TERM CONSERVATION OF THE ALBANY PINE BUSH AND KARNER BLUE BUTTERFLY: AN ASSESSMENT  
         
   
  Appendix J NEWSPAPER REPORTS  
  Appendix K LIST OF DOCUMENTS CONSIDERED  
  Appendix L SEQRA DOCUMENTS  
  Appendix M MAP OF LANDS OF DAUGHTERS OF SARAH AND ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE  
         

 



 

Executive Summary

 

This is a Draft Environmental I~npact Statement ("DEIS") prepared for the City of Albany Planning Board ("Planning Board"). Tlle Pla~ming Board is the lead agency under A~tic]e 8 ofthe New York State Environmental Conservation Law ("ECL") and its implementing regulations (G N\4CRR Part 617), otherwise known as the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA").

 

On behalf of the Roman Catholic Diocese (the "Diocese"), First Columbia, LLC (the "Applicant" or "Project Sponsor") is seeking site plan approval to create an integrated senior residential ca~np~Ts ("Campus") to serve the elder population of the Capital Region. The proposed Campus will consist of a main campus of two four-story apartment buildings, 24 single-family cottage homes and an associated community building for dining, programming and administration, 50 garden apartments, a comprehensive senior day-care, geriatric health and administration center, together witl1 anci]]ary parking and site infrastructure improvements (the "Project").

 

The Project is proposed to be constructed on a 30.6 ~ acre parcel of land located adjacent to an existing senior housing facility, the Teresian House, on Washington Avenue Extension in the City of Albany (the "Site"). Access to the Site is proposed from Washington Avenue Extension.

 

To put the Project into proper historical perspective, it has been in the planning stages for over six (6) years. As originally proposed, the development consisted of ~t350 units for senior housing that

 

~-- utilized the entire Site. No formal application was filed for this proposal. Subsequently, the Diocese

 

revised its development plans and called for the reduction in the number of senior housing units to 3278 units (a 21% reduction), leaving the southern 8.6 acres (28%) of the Site undeveloped. However, no formal application was filed for this proposal. The Project being considered by the Planning Board, and the subject of this DEIS, represents yet another reduction in the number of dwelling units and concomitant reduction in the number of acres to be developed. The Project consists of ~t152 units of senior housing (a total 55% reduction), and retains the southern ~tl 0.36 acres (34% of the Site) as undeveloped land.

 

This DEIS has been prepared at the direction ofthe Planning Board as SEQRA lead agency to ensure that the Planning Board, together with the other involved agencies and the public, are able to carefully analyze and take a "hard look" at potential environmental impacts of the action and proposed measures to mitigate such impacts.

 

This DEIS will be subject to municipal and public review through a formal comment period and a public hearing. At the conclusion of the comment period a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) will be submitted which will address each of the substantive comments ~nade on the DEIS. The entire SEQRA process is structured to allow for the examination of identified relevant environmental issues by technical experts, agencies and the public in order that the Planning Board and other involved agencies may make reasoned and informed decisions.

 

The Project will create substantial construction-f-elated employment (approxin-!ately 50 jobs). New

 

ES-1

 

employment opportunities (approximately 100) will result in a significant addition to the local economy in wages and salaries. This increase in wages and salaries will in tun1, through direct and multiplier effects estimated at tlu-ee ti~nes the original salary, stimulate local business and industry.

 

The Traff~c Impact Study included in this DEIS examines existing conditions and levels of service and evaluates 2002 conditions with and without the Project. The Traffic Impact Study concludes that the highway improvements which will be completed in conjunction with the Project and other deve]opments will maintain existing traffic conditions. The improvements identified as necessary for the proposed Project include the following:

 

Ground mounted intersection warning sign at the southbound approach to site driveway R4 and R5.

 

· Construction of a southbound right-turn land and westbound left-turn land at

 

Columbia Circle Drive and the South Frontage Road intersection, subject to available right- of-way.

 

· Signal optimization, roadway/sign/stripe to alleviate traff c confusion at the

 

South Frontage Road and Columbia Circle Drive caused by existing geometric deficiencies.

 

With these improvements in place, the Traffic Impact Study concludes that the proposed Project will not impact future traffic operations or levels of service.

 

The Site is located within the City of Albany and in the Albany School District. No additional burden upon the School District is anticipated as a result of the Project.

 

Water will be provided to the Project by extending existing water lines which already service properties along Washington Avenue Extension. The City has an adequate water supply system with available excess supply capacity. The Project will require 65,000 gallons of water per day (gpd). There will be no adverse impacts on the existing municipal water system.

 

Sewage will be disposed of by a connection to the existing municipal sewage facilities along Washington Avenue Extension. The system has existing excess capacity to treat and dispose of the sewage volumes anticipated to be generated by the Project. There will be no adverse impacts on the existing municipal sewage disposal system.

 

Ston-~~water runoff from the Project Site will be controlled by the use of a central storm water management basin utilizing recharge methods. Stonmwater management will be designed to maintain pre-development conditions. No adverse impacts are anticipated.

 

Fire protection will be provided by the City of Albany Fire Department. The Fire Department has a fire station located on Washington Avenue Extension, in the immediate vicinity of the Site. The

 

ES-2


Fire Department has a number of trucks and related equipment available on first alann that may service the Project including the high rise apart~nents. No adverse impacts on the Fire Department are anticipated.

 

Police protection will be provided by the City of Albany Police Departme~lt. There are adequate police resources available to serve the Project without adverse impact on such resources.

 

Solid waste wil1 be disposed of at an approved landfill and the Applicant will pa~ticipate in recycling as required. No adverse impacts to these facilities are anticipated.

 

Electric, natural gas and telephone service will be provided by extension of existing utilities. A11 utilities have ample capacity to serve the Project.

 

The Project Site will be attractively landscaped with a variety of tree and plant species compatible with local soils and climate conditions. The landscaping plan will utilize native Pine Bush species. Specially selected trees and shrubs will be planted next to the Project buildings. The parking areas will be planted with materials which are able to withstand snow and heat. The overall effect will be to create an attractive visual environment. A +10-acre area in the rear of the property will be relandscaped with indigenous Pine Bush vegetation.

 

The DEIS also provides an analysis of the potential visual impact of the Project. There will be no adverse effect on the viewscape.

 

The Proj ect will utilize a professional on-site maintenance and security staff who will be responsible for interior and exterior housekeeping, cleaning, maintenance and security.

 

In order to take a thorough and hard look at all potential environmental concerns, the DEIS identifies and examines a complete range of issues potentially related to the Project. These include the impacts of both construction and operationphases oftheProject on slopes andtopography, bedrock, geology, hydrology, soils, surface water resources and drainage, atmospheric resources, vegetation, wetlands, wildlife, land use, transportation, municipal revenues and finances, energy, public health and safety, cultural resources, noise and vibration, visual character, recreational resources and Pine Bush issues.

 

The DEIS also identifies and examines possible altematives to the Project. Amo~~g the alternatives considered are alternative site layouts. The No-Action Alternative, which would result in the continuance of existing conditions, is also considered.

 

The DEIS analyzes the potential environmental impacts and where appropriate, identifies possible mitigating measures. The DEIS also examines potential secondary impacts on surrounding land uses which may result from the construction and operation of the Project. Finally, the DEIS discusses potential growth inducing aspects of the Project.

 

The DEIS concludes that, with appropriate mitigating measures in place, the Project will provide

 

ES-3 ~- .


significant benefits to the City of Albany and the surrounding region, and that any environmental impacts will be minimized to the maximun1 extent practicable.

 

~.

 

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ES-4

 

.SECTION 1.0 DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPOSED ACTION

 

The Project Sponsor seeks site plan approval from the Planning Board to allow the creation of an integrated senior residential campus to serve the elder population of the Capital Region. The proposed campus will consist of a main campus of two four-story aparhnent buildings, 24 singlefamily cottage homes, an associated community building for dining, programming and administration. In addition, the campus will contain 50 additional garden apartments and a comprehensive senior day-care, geriatric health and administration center, required parking, road improvements and associated infrastructure (the "Project") on a currently undeveloped parcel of 30.6 t acres located on Washington Avenue Extension in the City of Albany (the "Site").

 

The Proj ect Site is currently zoned R-4 Multi-story Residential which permits each of the proposed uses to occur with the exception ofthe community center, the senior day care and the geriatric health center which will require a special use permit from the City of Albany Zoning Board of Appeals ( ZBA")

 

The following subsections describe the Project location, Project elements and related features, construction activities, operational activities, the purpose and need for the Project and the required approvals/public actions involved.

 

1.1 Site Location

 

.

 

The Proj ect Site is located in the City of Albany, County of Albany, New York as shown on Figure 1, "Site Location Map". The Project Site is founded by Washington Avenue Extension on the north and consists of approximately 30.6+ acres of land.

 

1.2 Project Description

 

This section describes the physical components of the proposed Project, and the related ancillary features and infrastructure improvements needed to support the Project. The Project will be constructed within a 20.7+ acre envelope of the Site. The Site is owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. It is on these parcels that the Diocese seeks to create an integrated senior residential campus to serve the elder population of the Capital Region. Specifically, the proposed campus will consist of a main campus of 2 four-story apartment buildings, 24 single-family cottage homes and an associated community building for dining, programming and administration. Across the street, the campus will continue with 50 additional garden apartments and a comprehensive senior day-care, geriatric health and administration center. A total of+152 units are contemplated. Figure 2, "Site Plan" illustrates the proposed campus, parking areas and ancillary features.

 

The proposed campus will comply in all respects with the City of Albany Zoning Ordinance, schedules of area and bulk regulations for the R-4 Multi-story Residential Zoning District.

 

_ . ~


The Applicant has incorporated roadway improve~~ents into the Project, including:

 

· optimization of the signalized intersection of Washington Avenue Extension and

 

Columbia Circle Drive.

 

· a separate southbound right-tun1 land and eastbound and westbound left-tunn lanes

 

at Columbia Circle Drive and the South Frontage Road, subject to available right-ofway.

 

· lane line-striping and associated turn arrows at Columbia Circle Drive/Washington

 

Avenue Extension and South Frontage Road.

 

· ground-mounted intersection warning sign for the southbound approach to site

 

driveways R4 and R5.

 

Appropriate landscaping including the use of native indigenous Pine Bush species will be utilized on the Site with intensive clearing of invasive Pine Bush species and re-vegetation with native species of the southerly +10 acres. Open parking spaces will be surfaced with all-weather dustless materials and all lighting will be designed, constructed and maintained so as to minin~ize glare and provide maximum security. Parking has been designed to accommodate the Project and in compliance with the City of Albany Zoning Ordinance requirements.

 

Stormwater will be collected and conveyed to a central stormwater management basin. Postdevelopment stormwater runoff will be controlled on-site to ensure that pre-development flows are maintained and no adverse impact occurs to the overall drainage area. The stormwater drainage system is intended to privately owned and maintained. The basin will not have a discharge outlet on it. The volume being stored will accumulate in the basin during the storm event and will recharge the existing ground water table.

 

The Proj ect will obtain water from the existing public water main located along Washington Avenue Extension. The sanitary sewer system will tie into the existing sewer line located along Columbia Circle Drive.

 

Electric service will be supplied by Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation. Natural gas service will also be supplied by Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation by connection to existing underground lines presently serving the Proj ect vicinity. Telephone service will be provided by connecting to the existing telecommunication lines presently serving the area. Adequate capacity in the area exists to service the Project.

 

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~', 1.3 Construction Activities

 

This section of the DEIS describes the activities associated with the construction of the Project. Construction of the Proj ect will occur over a period of approximately three years, begi~ming in Fall, 2002.

 

During construction, equipment staging areas will be developed on the Site. All construction equipment will be kept in these areas when not in use. Construction materials will be delivered to these areas and temporarily stored until ready for use. No hazardous materials other than normal construction fuels and lubricating oils are anticipated to be used during construction. Fuel and lubricating oils may be stored at the staging areas; in such case, all applicable environmental regulations will be followed. A description of the construction sequence follows.

 

1.3.1 Clearing and Grubbing

 

Trees, shrubs, stumps and top soil on the Site will be removed to make way for scheduled improvements. Brush and wooded areas will be cleared for the Project. Appropriate erosion and sedimentation controls will be implemented during construction.

 

1.3.2 Grading and Earth Work

 

Grading and earth work operations are required to prepare the Site for the installation of the scheduled improvements (roads, parking lots, utilities, buildings, etc.). Finished grades will be established to minimize erosion and control for ease of maintenance. Potential off-site damage due to uncontrolled runoff will be prevented through the use of temporary erosion control facilities.

 

1.3.3 Footings and Foundations

 

Footings and foundations will be appropriately designed for Site soil conditions.

 

1.3.4 Trench and Install Utilities

 

Electric, telephone, natural gas, water and sewer lines serving the Project will be installed underground and will be connected to existing utility lines on and adjacent to the Site in accordance with all applicable standards and requirements.

 

1.3.5 Building Construction

 

Construction of the buildings will include erection of the structural systems, enclosure of the roof and exterior walls, installation of mechanical and electrical systems, insulation, dry wall, finish carpentry, painting and the installation of furnishing and equipment.

 

_


1.3.6 Site Improvements, Roads, Parking

 

The parking areas will be paved and will include concrete curbs, gutters, islands and sidewalks, identification signs and entrance and exit signs. The parking areas will direct stormwater to the proposed central stormwater management basin on the Site which will utilize recharge of the existing ground water. The stormwater system will be designed to adequately accommodate postconstruction runoff.

 

1.3.7 Landscape Development and Amenities

 

The Site will be attractively landscaped to provide a pleasing visual experience for both residents at the Site, passing motorists and nearby properties. Amenities such as parking lot lighting and signage will be attractive and constructed to the latest industry standards. The landscaping will be designed to create an attractive setting, taking into account the Site's relation to the Pine Bush Preserve and will compliment the surrounding environment.

 

1.3.8 Off-site Road Improvements

 

State road improvements on Washington Avenue Extension, the South Frontage Road and Columbia Circle Drive will be made pursuant to a highway work permit issued by NYSDOT and coordinated with the City of Albany Traffic Safety Division.

 

1.4 Operational Activities

 

This section describes the activities associated with the day-to-day operation of the Project. The Project will be operated as an integrated senior residential campus to serve the elder population of the Capital Region.

 

1.4.1 Access

 

Directional signage will be provided to the six driveways from Columbia Circle Drive and one from the South Frontage Road to direct visitors to the parking areas for the several buildings within the Campus. Similarly, outgoing vehicles will be directed by signs to the appropriate exit. Parking, as proposed, has been arranged for convenient access to the buildings.

 

A traffic impact study has been prepared for the Project by Transportation Concepts, LLP and is presented in Appendix A of this DEIS. A summary of the traffic report is presented in Sections 2.8 and 3.9.

 

1.4.2 Waste Disposal

 

The Proj ect is expected to generate approximately 44 tons of solid waste per month. The solid waste will be disposed of in a facility in the Port of Albany and the Applicant will participate in recycling

 

4 - .


~ as required.

 

1.4.3 Water and Sewer Service

 

The water usage for the Project is estimated to be 65,000 GPD. Recent improvements have been made to the Pine Bush Water Distribution system. These improvements maintain pressure for users in this area.

 

Sewage flows for the Project will be transported away from the Project through the existing municipal sewer line located along Columbia Circle Drive. Sewage is tributary to the Patroon Creek Interceptor Sewer. Sewage is treated in the North Wastewater Treatment Facility of the Albany County Sewer District.

 

1.4.4 Stormwater Management

 

The increase in runoff from the Project Site will be directed to the central stolmwater management basin located on the Project Site. The basin will not have a discharge outlet. The volume of water will accumulate in the basin during the storm event and recharge the existing ground water. See Appendix C "Stormwater Management Report".

 

1.5 Purpose and Need for Project

-

The Project Sponsor's purpose for this Project is as follows:

 

· To provide a high-quality, aesthetically pleasing, residential development to serve

 

the elder population and meet and existing growing need for such housing within the market area;

 

· To provide a residential development that is consistent with local zoning and

 

adjacent land use;

 

· To take advantage of the regional and local highway network that makes this area

 

accessible to all of the Capital Region; and

 

· To fulfill a need in the market area utilizing balanced planning practices aimed at

 

creating a pedestrian-friendly neo-traditional neighborhood that seeks to integrate the existing senior care facilities.

 

As detailed in the Retirement Housing and Personal Care Market Feasibility Study (see Appendix B), the Project should be designed to offer residents a comfortable residential living environ~nent, common facilities, support services and access to health related services. The goal and appeal of the community is to sustain and enhance the enjoyment of longer life for the residents.


1

 

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1.6 Required Permits, Approvals and Zoning Requirements

 

Construction and operation of the Project will require the following approvals:

 

1. Site Plan Approval by the City of Albany Planning Board;

2. Special Use Permit from the City of Albany Zoning Board of Appeals;

3. Highway Work Permit from the New York State Department of Transportation;

4. A Building Pe~mit from the City of Albany Building Department p~ior to

 

commencement of construction.

 

The Application will be referred to the Albany County Planning Board for a recommendation pursuant to Section 239-m of the General Municipal Law in connection with the above permits or approvals.

 

ZONING SCHEDULE 1 - USE, AREA AND HEIGHT CONTROLS - CITY OF ALBANY

 

Zoning Classification

R-4 Multi-family High-Rise Residential District

Principally Permitted Uses

Multi-family dwellings/high-rise (elevator apartments)/garden apartments/two-family row houses

Accessory Uses

Detached garages, storage sheds, home occupations, swimming pools

Special Permit Uses

Private schools, hospitals, day care centers, nursing homes, collages or universities including dormitories, charitable or religious institutions, rooming houses/single-room occupancy, community residences, satellite dish antennae, solar collection equipment

 

 

 

 

High Rise

Minimum Lot Area: 20,000 SF

Minimum Lot Width: 100 ft.

Minimum Lot Depth: 200 ft.

Minimum Front Yard: 20 ft.

 

Minimum Side Yard: 15 ft. from one side; 40 ft. total

 

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Minimum Rear Yard: 40 fl.

Maximu~n Height: 85 ft.

Maximum Lot Coverage: 33%*

 

Garden Apartments

 

Minimum Lot Area: 8,000 SF

 

Land Area per dwelling unit: 2,000 SF

 

Minimum Lot Width: 80 ft.

Minimum Lot Depth: 100 ft.

Minimum Front Yard: 20 ft.

Minimum Side Yard: 15 ft. on one side; minimum total of 35 ft. on both sides

Minimum Rear Yard: 40 ft.

 

Maximum Building Height: 2.5 stories or 35 ft. which is less Maximum Lot Coverage including accessory buildings: 35%*

 

* See also Pine Bush Overlay Requirements

 

The following involved and interested agencies have been identif~ed:

 

INVOEVED AGENCIES The City of Albany Planning Board The City of Albany Zoning Board of Appeals New York State Department of Transportation INTERESTED AGENCIES Albany County Planning Board Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission

 

In addition, while the US Army Corps of Engineers is not considered an involved "agency" under the SEQRA regulations [see N.Y.C.R.R. §617.2(c)], the Applicant will comply as may be required with the procedures applicable to Nationwide Pennit #39.


~~ SECTION 2.0 EXISTINGENVIRONMENTAL SETTING

 

This section ofthe DEIS describes the existing environmental setting on and around the Project Site. This baseline assessment of the environment is necessary in order to evaluate the potential irnpacts of the proposed Project. Section 1, above, describes the proposed Project. Section 3 will evaluate the potential impacts of the Project on the environment as described in this Section.

 

Natural Resources

 

2.1 Geology, Soils and Topography 2.1.1 Geology

 

The bedrock in the vicinity of the study area is the Normanskill Shale Fo~mation, which is one of several geologic formations within the Lorraine Group, a Middle Ordovican Age, (440-500 million years old). The bedrock formation consists mostly of shale, which was deposited as mud into a deep sea basin that once occupied this portion of North America.

 

The geologic landscape in the Albany area was greatly altered by the last continental glaciation period. The Wisconsinian Glaciation lasted about 100,000 years and ended about 12,500 years ago. Glacial ice sheets, thousands of feet thick, modified the existing land surface and laid down huge amounts of various glacial deposits upon the bedrock surface. As the glacial ice melted and retreated northward, a huge impounded area filled with melt water formed what is called Glacial Lake Albany.

 

Streams flowing from the ice into Glacial Lake Albany carried large amounts of material that was subsequently modified by stream (glaciofluvial) and lake (glaciolacustrine) processes. The Lake ultimately drained in the study area now occupies part of the old lake basin. The Project area is underlain by glacial and glaciolacustrine deposits which may range in thickness from sixty to eighty feet.

 

The geology in this area is dominated by unconsolidated deposits of glacial origin which were mapped by Dineen (1982). The Pine Bush encompasses a 40 square mile area that was located near the shores of Glacial Lake Albany. The general stratigraphy of the unconsolidated deposits above the bedrock is (from oldest to youngest) till, ice contact, sand, and gravel, lake clay and silt, lake sand and silt and windblown (aeolian) sand. These deposits by their nature and mode of deposition may vary in thickness and can be laterally discontinuous. The upper sand unit was deposited into Glacial Lake Albany as a delta by the Glaciomohawk River. As the lake level lowered, wind modified the lake and delta sands into dunes. The process of dune building continue into postglacial (Holocene) times and ended approximately 5,000 years ago. These sand dunes cover large areas of the Pine Bush and give the area its unique surface morphology.

 

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- ~ - ~ 2.1.2 Soils

 

The soils types on the site include Stafford loamy find sand (O to 3% slopes); Elnora loa~ny fine sand (O to 3% slopes); Colonie loamy fine sand (rolling and hilly) and Udipsamments (urban land complex). None of these soils are listed as being hydric or having potential hydric inclusions by the Soil Conservation Service (USDA SCS, 1989).

 

2.1.3 Topography

 

The topography of the Proj ect Site is characterized as undulating with two distinct sand dunes, which are oriented west to east across the central and southern portions of the Site. The Proj ect will have minimal impact on the southerly dune, but will result in the removal of the entire central dune.

 

2.2 Hydrology and Water Quality

 

2.2.1 Groundwater

 

a. Bedrock Aquifer

 

In general, wells drilled into Normanskill Shale aquifer are poor, typically yielding less than 10 gallons per minute (gpm). The groundwater yield from the aquifer is usually better when the wells intersect fractured rock. Fractured bedrock generally provides higher quantities of groundwater than the surrounding unfractured rock, however, the fractured portions of the bedrock occupy a very small percentage of the whole aqulfer.

 

b. Unconsolidated Aquifers - Buried Ice-Contract Sand and Gravel Aquifer

 

Buried beneath the lake clay and silt is a discontinuous ice-contact sand and gravel unit that locally forms a confined aquifer. Its thickness ranges from O to 50 feet (Dineen, et al.,1975) and well yields have been reported to be as high as 700 gpm (Arnow, 1949). This unit is described as the best aquifer in the area (Dineen, et al., 1975). Snavely (1983) states that the ice-contact deposits have a minimal hydraulic connection with the surface sand units. The aquifer is reported to receive recharge from discrete surface exposures, which outcrop near Guilderland Center, the Watervliet Reservoir, and Loudonville (Dineen, et al., 1975). If this aquifer exists beneath the Site, it is confined by a thick sequence of Lake Albany clay and silt, and does not receive significant recharge from the Site.

 

c. Unconsolidated Aquifers - Pine Bush Aquifer

 

Dune sand and lake sand cover the entire Pine Bush area except for areas where streams have eroded the sand away and exposed the lake clay. The sand units may range in thickness from 5 to over 100 feet and have an average saturated thickness of 40 feet. The average depth to the water table is 10

 

9


to l 5 feet. Silt and clay lenses exist throughout the aquifer, which may cause locally semi-conf~ned conditions.

 

The aquifer receives recharge entirely from precipitation, both rain and snow. Average annual precipitation in Albany is about 33.4 inches. Snavely calculated that 38 percent of the total precipitation, or about 12.7 inches, recharges the aquifer. The high percentage of recharge from precipitation reflects the high penneability of the sand. The water table is reported to respond quickly to precipitation. A groundwater divide exists near the intersection of Route 155 and Washington Avenue Extension. From this divide, groundwater in the aquifer flows northward into the Lishakill, westward into the Hungerkill, southward into the Kaikout Kill and eastward into the Patroon Creek. The base flow of streams in the southern part of the Pine Bush (including the Kaikout Kill) are sustained entirely by groundwater seepage from the aquifer during periods of no direct runoff from precipitation or snow melt. The recharge system will not impact this aquifer.

 

Using data from two pumping tests, a predictive computer model estimates a long-term safe yield of 150 to 600 gpm (depending on hydraulic conductivity) from a single 6-inch diameter well located in the center of the Pine Bush. This model also predicted that these yields may be available in most parts of the Pine Bush Aquifer given similar well construction and aquifer parameters. The estimated aquifer yields were deemed inadequate to qualify the Pine Bush Aquifer as a potential additional source of municipal water.

 

2.2.2 Surface Water

 

Surface water run-off and groundwater inifiltration from the elevated sand dunes and slopes, collect along the Site's nearly level southeast side where evidence of soil saturation and temporary ponding can be observed. A small vernal pond exists at this location.

 

2.3 Vegetation and Wetlands

 

A federal wetland delineation was completed for the Project. Two small areas that possess features indic.;tive of wetlands were located on the Project Site, totally approximately 0.52 acres (1.7% of the Site). These geographically isolated wetland areas are upland and are generally forested with deciduous trees and scrub/shrub. Based on several Site examinations during different seasons, one of these areas is man-made, approximately .22 acres, and is seasonally saturated. The other is approximately .30 acres with weak wetland characteristics and is seasonally saturated. It is anticipated that the Project will have no significant adverse impact on these areas as the Project has been designed to avoid such areas.

 

2.4 Wildlife

 

No endangered or threatened species were identif~ed on the Site. Development of the Project may result in relocation of typical area resident wildlife to adjacent undeveloped lands, some of which are part of the Pine Bush Preserve.

 

10


~ 2.5 Climate

 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publishes an a~mnal summary of climatological data in a thirty-year history of principle data. The mean precipitation in May through October is 3.44 inches per month, most of the summer time rainfall is in the for~n of thunder showers.

 

Wind is primarily from the north or northwest; although during summer months, winds from the south or southeast predominate. The monthly average temperature is above freezing from March through November, with the annual mean being approximately 48°F.

 

2.6 Air Quality

 

Fuel burning for space heating of both residential and commercial buildings is the primary source of both sulfur dioxide and particulates.

 

According to Title 6, New York State Environmental Conservation Law, Part 256 - Air Quality Classification Systems, the area lies within Level 1.

 

According to the New York State Air Quality Report, Ambient Air Monitoring System prepared by NYSDEC, the entire Region 4 sampling area show no excursion (value which exceeds the New York

 

-- and federal ambient air quality standard) for the following items during 1996:

 

Sulfur Dioxide - running 3-hour averages and 24-hour average. The number of days exceeding 0.14 PPM is 0.

 

Inhalable Particulates - 24-hour concentrations. The number of days exceeding 150 ug/m3 is 0.

 

Total Suspended Particulates - 24-hour concentrations. Tte number of days exceeding 250 ug/m3 is 0.

 

Carbon Monoxide - 1-hour average and running 8-hour average. The number of days exceeding 9 PPM is 0.

 

Ozone - 1 -hour averages. The number of days exceeding 0.12 PPM is 0.

 

Nitric Oxide - 1-hour averages and annual average. The annual average for 1996 was .007 PPM.

 

Nitrogen Dioxide - 1-hour averages and annual average. The annual average for 1996 was 0.15 PPM where the New York and federal ambient air quality standard is .050 PPM.

 

11


-- Lead - 24-hour concentrations and quarterly average. The quarterly averages for 1996 were

 

.03 ug/m3 where the New York and federal ambient air quality standard is 1.5 ug/m3.

 

There has been no, nor will there be, any degradation in the quality of air at this Site.

 

Windborn fugitive dust from roadways and/or construction sites accomplish significant portions of the high particulate count.

 

2.7 Pine Bush 2.7.1 Background

 

The Albany Pine Bush occupies a region of sandy soils and dunes derived from glacial Lake Albany, situated between the cities of Albany and Schenectady, within the City of Albany, Town of Colonie, Village of Colonie and Town of Guilderland. The Albany Pine Bush was one of the largest inland pine barrens vegetation in the Northeast. However, there has been a loss of such native vegetation. As a result lawsuits concerning the minimum acreage required to sustain the Albany Pine Bush ecosystem and the minimum acreage to sustain the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly, in 1988 the City of Albany caused a study to be prepared by Malcolm Pirnie entitled "Minimum Area Requirements for Long-Term Conservation ofthe Albany Pine Bush and Karner Blue Butterfly: An Assessment" (referred to as "Appendix T"), in an attempt to resolve these issues. See Appendix I. Appendix T was a scientific analysis which concluded that an ecologically viable Pine Bush ecosystem could be achieved through establishment of a +2,000 acre Preserve which generally corresponds to the primary and secondary Preserve boundaries established by the 1985 NYS Natural Heritage Program. Appropriate and active management of such area would be required. Appendix T was a result of a team of three experienced ecologists, assembled by Malcolm Pirnie, to address the ecological issued presented.

 

Appendix T stated that the 2,000 acre figure was not a hard and fast number. It states "[i]t must be emphasized that identifying roughly 2,000 acres as the minimum area required to sustain the Albany Pine Bush indefinitely does not imply that 1,800 acres (or 1,975 acres) would not suffice." Appendix T at p. 11.

 

Appendix T identified a five-lobed configuration for the Preserve. It appears that the roughly +2,000 acre Preserve envisioned in Appendix T focuses on establishment of pitch pine-scrub oak habitat together with all existing representative natural communities which make up the ecosystem such as water bodies, vernal ponds and ravines/forests. Appendix T recommended, among other things, use of land use practices to encourage use of native species in all landscaping and limiting proportion of lots that can be paved, built upon or covered in grass. "The aim of such action, of course, is to increase the ability of the Karner Blue Butterfly to disperse between appropriate sites for reproduction and to form new populations, thereby, enhancing its probability of long-term survival in the Albany Pine Bush." Appendix T at p. 59.

 

r~ 12

 

.


In 1992, the Appellate Division, Third Department faulted the environn1ental review for a project involving rezoning land within the Pine Bush area of the City. The Court stated "[i]t was essential for a proper analysis to assess whatever the minimum acreage could be acquired in the absence of the subject parcels or provide a reasonable elaboration as to why such an assessment was not required." _ave the Pine Bush v. Citv of Albany Common Council, 188 A.D.2d 969 (3rd Dept. 1 992).

 

At that time, "o~~1y 1,700 acres had been acquired for the preserve." Plans were in place by the City to increase this acreage, however, the court found:

 

"the City's reliance on the Nature Conservancy for future acquisitions was misguided and ... the subject parcels could potentially be incorporated into the Preserve. The probability, likelihood or expectation of acquiring the necessary acreage [was] not addressed in the environmental impact statements (which cover the reasons the properties are not necessarily suitable for acquisition into the Preserve), nor is the SEQRA findings statements (which restate the same findings)." Id.

 

The Court concluded that:

 

The [rezoning] deterrninations lack areasoned elaboration concerning the manner in which the necessary 2,000 acres would be acquired in the absence of the subject parcels, which was an environmental concern that had to be addressed as it was essential to perpetuate the Pine Bush ecology and the Karner Blue Butterfly. Id.

 

2.7.2 The Management Plan

 

The Management Plan and Final Environmental Impacts Statement for the Albany Pine Bush Preserve ("Management Plan") was adopted by the Commission in May, 1993. The Site was identified as being in the Secondary Protection Area. According to the Management Plan, the Secondary Protection Area consisted of approximately 2,500 acres of developed and undeveloped lands adjacent to the Pine Bush Preserve ("Preserve") or Primary Protection Area which have not been determined to contain ecologically significant Pine Bush habitat and/or which can provide open space/buffer functions to the main Preserve. The Management Plan recommended three (3) levels of protection in the Albany Pine Bush and listed several high-priority sites for acquisition. When the Management Plan was released in February, 1993, approximately 1,900 acres were considered to be in the Preserve. The Management Plan contains a plan for fire management of the Preserve.

 

The Management Plan recommends that lands be protected for a "potential migration/dispersal corridor between the southeast section and Crossgates Hill (a site separated from the Preserve, but included in the Primary Protection Area because it supports a significant population of Karner Blue

 

13


Butterflies)."

 

Although the Management Plan stated a minimum of approximately 2,000 acres was required for the Preserve, the research supporting the Management Plan stated:

 

[i]t must be emphasized that identifying roughly 2,000 acres as a minimum area required to sustain the Albany Pine Bush indefinitely does not imply that 1,800 acres (or 1,975 acres) would not suffice... The issues involved in determining minimum preserve area are not likely to involve a sharp threshold in which the difference in area of a few percent is important. The findings of this report cannot be used to argue for or against differences of a few (< 10) percent in initial preserve area.

 

In other words, a viable Pine Bush Preserve could be attained with 1,800 acres of land that can be aggressively managed. The Management Plan and the research supporting the Management Plan recommended acquisition and/or protection of Pine Bush lands for the long-term conservation ofthe Preserve. The Management Plan states that:

 

"approximately 1,900 acres have been acquired [as of 1993] by the various agencies, organizations and municipalities that make up the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission. These lands have been or will be dedicated to the [Commission] for management.

 

The [Commission] is now close to achieving its initial goal of a 2,000 acre preserve..."

 

(Management Plan, p. 27)

 

One of the purposes of the Management Plan was to identify goals and objectives that, if implemented, would result in the establishment of a viable Pine Bush Preserve. The Management Plan stated that a minimum area of approximately 2,000 acres was necessary to ensure the long-term viability of the Pine Bush Preserve. (Management Plan P. 27)

 

2.7.3 EDR Report

 

On April 1, 1994, Environmental Design and Research, P.C. issued a report entitled "Report on the Ecological Significance of the Pine East Office Park Site" ("EDR Report") (see Appendix G) examined the history, rationale and status ofthe Preserve at that time in connection with a different proposed project. Maps were compiled in the EDR Report showing each parcel of land in the Preserve at that time and listed its ownership, acreage and status.

 

Consistent with the decision of the Appellate Division, the EDR Report detennined that "..it appears 14


a preserve well in excess of 2,000 acres has been achieved" and that "edge effects" would not reduce the fire-manageable area of the existing preserve "below the ran~e of minimum area considered acceptable by Givnish~ et al (i.e. 1,800 acres!..." See EDR Report at pps. 13 and lG-19 respectively.

 

The EDR Report also found that as of 1994, there were approximately 2,146 acres available for protection in the Preserve. The total Preserve lands was dete~~nined based upon detailed mapping. The EDR Report relied on existing surveys and deed plots and Auto CAD computer software. According to the EDR Report, this methodology resulted in a "more accurate" calculation of Preserve lands than that contained in the Management Plan. According to the EDR Report, the Preserve calculation:

 

represents a realistic, if not conservative estimate of what can currently be considered preserve lands. This being the case, it appears that a preserve well in excess of 2,000 acres has been achieved."

 

(EDR Report, p. 13) (emphasis provided in original).

 

The EDR Report also calculated the fire-manageable Preserve lands to be approximately 1,900 acres. EDR's fire-manageable calculation was based, in part, on the fact that several landowners of property adjacentto thePreservewerewilling to allowprescribedburns within seventy-five (75) feet ofthe private property boundaries. (See, e~ Matter of Save the Pine Bush, Inc. v. Planning Board of the Town of Guilderland [RAO], 217 A.D.2d 767, 768 n. 4 (3d Dept. 1995).

 

The EDR Report also concluded that the "preserve/Pine Bush ecosystem is viable in its present configuration." (EDR Report, p. 21) (emphasis added).

 

2.7.4 Prior Precedent

 

On June 30, 1994, the Hon. John Connor rendered a decision which found that "the documents reviewed by the Planning Board were sufficient to determine that the 2,000 acre threshold for the Preserve has been achieved....". Save the Pine Bush v. City of Albany Planninc Board, Slip op. (Albany Co. Sup. Ct. 1994) Connor, J.

 

2.7.5 Implementation Guidelines

 

On February 12, 1996, the Commission adopted the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Protection and Project Review Implementation Guidelines and Final Environmental Impact Statement ("Implementation Guidelines") and on March 28,1996 a SEQRA Findings Statement was adopted. The Implementation Guidelines provided a ranking system to evaluate properties within the Pine Bush Study Area based on the presence of pitch-pine scrub oak, linkage, buffer and other environmental resources, including the presence of Karner Blue Butterflies, water resources and

 

15


historical and/or archeological resources.

 

The Implementation Guidelines stated that a minimum of 1,800 acres was necessary to maintain a viable long-term Pine Bush Preserve. (Attachment 1 to Appendix 1 of the Implementation Guidelines and the Implementation Guidelines Appendix 1, p. 1.) The Preserve Commission determined that as of February, 1996, "approximately 2~220 acres were pennanently protected and mana~ed as part of the preserve by [APBPC] members..." Implementation Guidelines, p. 4. However, the Implementation Guidelines developed the Commission's "vision" for the Pine Bush which includes the addition of 1,730 acres of land identified as "full protection."

 

2.7.6 Hershberg and Hershberg Study

 

In 1999, Hershberg and Hershberg, the engineering firm that provided the detailed mapping services in connection with the EDR Report, updated such maps by utilizing the same methodology previously employed ("Hershherg Report"). (See Appendix H) The Hershberg Report provided evidence that a total of 2,530.43 acres of land were either considered preserved or lands available for management by the Commission, of which 2,061.43 acres were capable of fire management.

 

Since the date of the Hershherg Report, many additional properties have been incorporated or otherwise protected as preserve lands within the Pine Bush. For example, on October 12, 1999, a deed to +115 acres of Pine Bush lands was conveyed to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ("NYSDEC"). The parcel is known as the Feeney/Ford parcel, and was considered an important parcel by NYSDEC in terms of its utility as a link to other areas of the Pine Bush. A 48 acre parcel acquired by the Town of Guilderland in later 1999 was made available for management to the Commission. A +47 acre parcel, located at 400-495 Rapp Road, known as Drumlin Fields, was added in 2001. This parcel was considered critical for linkage of the northeasternportionofthePreserve. Approximately8.9 acres, consisting of 5.5 acres at 131 Morris Road, Colonie; 2.4 acres at 4073 Albany Street, Colonie and 18,000 SF at 71 Rapp Road, Albany, were transferred to The Nature Conservancy by the County of Albany. The Town of Colonie Town Board agreed to make 75 acres of Town property available for management by the Commission. The City of Albany is in the process of acquiring for the Preserve, 20 acres of land, known as Fox Run Estates, and an adj acent 40 acre parcel that will eventually become part of the Preserve. (See Appendix J). A +2.7 acre parcel was incorporated into the Preserve as part of a development at Washington Plaza (LaBerge site)

 

Based on these acquisitions, the Preserve has increased its area to ~t2,884.33 acres.

 

Therefore, it is clear that the Commission's goal of assembling an ecologically viable Preserve appears to have been attained, as it appears, a preserve well in excess of +2,000 fire-manageable acres and configuration has been achieved.

 

16

 

.. . _


2.7.7 The Commission's Prior Review

 

The Commission provided a letter dated November 1, 1995, of its preliminary comments on an earlier version of the Project. Although these comments did not fully endorse the plan, it stated "[b]ased on field visits, discussion with staff, and your presentation to the Teclmical Committee, it is felt that there are ways to provide mitigation of impacts associated with this proj ect." The Proj ect incorporates the Comn1ission's suggestion to leave the southerly lands adj acent to the Preserve lands on the west undeveloped. The development envelope southerly limits is proximate to the northern Preserve lands located west of the Site.

 

2.7.8 The Site

 

An ecological assessment of the Site was conducted by Ecological Solutions, LLC ("Ecological Solutions") to assess whether habitat on the Site is suitable and/or critical for the Karner Blue Butterfly and attempt to visually locate this species and the larvae's primary food source, Blue Lupine, on the Site.

 

The Project area was surveyed by Ecological Solutions four (4) times during April, May and July, 2000, for the presence of Karner Blue Butterflies and Blue Lupine. Ecological Solutions prepared a letter report of their findings. (See Appendix F) The letter report states, "[n]o individual Karner Blue Butterflies or Blue Lupine was observed in any area on the property." The majority ofthe Site is forested (Black Locust) with dense canopies.

 

In July, 1999, an assessment of the Site by Environmental Design and Research, P.C. ("EDR") was performed. The EDR site visit coincided with the second flight of Karner Blues and the weather conditions were conducive to butterfly activity. EDR observed Karner Blue Butterfly activity around the Crossgates Hill area. EDR confirmed that the Site contains no Blue Lupine and that no Karner Blue Butterflies were located on the Site.

 

The reports of Ecological Solutions and EDR each confirmed that the Site is not considered favorable for the Karner Blue Butterfly due to the dense shade/canopy created by Black Locusts that dominate the Site and no food source.

 

As noted in the Ecological Solutions Report, the Site contains three separate habitat types. Area 1 Forested Uplands, Area 2 - Scrub/Shrub Wetlands and Area 3 - Old Field. Areas 1 and 2 have a habitat of low suitability for the Karner Blue Butterfly. Area 1 is primarily steep slopes-dunes with white pine and black locusts and Area 2 is a small wetland with densely wooded edges.

 

Area 3 consists of Old Field vegetation with dominant sandy soils. The Old Field area does not contain potential adult Karner Blue Butterfly habitat (canopy coverage less than 10%) dominated by Old Field perennial species. It is located adjacent to dense forested uplands (canopy coverage 80 - 90%) and has no food source for the Karner Blue Butterfly. The Ecological Solutions report

 

17

 

..,


- 2.7.7 The Commission's Prior Review

 

The Commission provided a letter dated November 1, 1995, of its preliminary comments on an earlier version of the Project. Although these comments did not fully endorse the plan, it stated "[b]ased on field visits, discussion with staff, and your presentation to the Technical Committee, it is felt that there are ways to provide mitigation of impacts associated with this proj ect." The Proj ect incorporates the Commission's suggestion to leave the southerly lands adjacent to the Preserve lands on the west undeveloped. The development envelope southerly limits is proximate to the northern Preserve lands located west of the Site.

 

2.7.8 The Site

 

An ecological assessment of the Site was conducted by Ecological Solutions, LLC ("Ecological Solutions") to assess whether habitat on the Site is suitable and/or critical for the Karner Blue Butterfly and attempt to visually locate this species and the larvae's primary food source, Blue Lupine, on the Site.

 

The Project area was surveyed by Ecological Solutions four (4) times during April, May and July, 2000, for the presence of Karner Blue Butterflies and Blue Lupine. Ecological Solutions prepared a letter report of their findings. (See Appendix F) The letter report states, "[n]o individual Karner

 

r - Blue Butterflies or Blue Lupine was observed in any area on the property." The maj ority of the Site

 

is forested (Black Locust) with dense canopies.

 

In July, 1999, an assessment ofthe Site by Environmental Design and Research, P.C. ("EDR") was performed. The EDR site visit coincided with the second flight of Karner Blues and the weather conditions were conducive to butterfly activity. EDR observed Karner Blue Butterfly activity around the Crossgates Hill area. EDR confirmed that the Site contains no Blue Lupine and that no Karner Blue Butterflies were located on the Site.

 

The reports of Ecological Solutions and EDR each confirmed that the Site is not considered favorable for the Karner Blue Butterfly due to the dense shade/canopy created by Black Locusts that dominate the Site and no food source.

 

As noted in the Ecological Solutions Report, the Site contains three separate habitat types. Area 1 - Forested Uplands, Area 2 - Scrub/Shrub Wetlands and Area 3 - Old Field. Areas 1 and 2 have a habitat of low suitability for the Karner Blue Butterfly. Area 1 is primarily steep slopes-dunes with white pine and black locusts and Area 2 is a small wetland with densely wooded edges.

 

Area 3 consists of Old Field vegetation with dominant sandy soils. The Old Field area does not contain potential adult Karner Blue Butterfly habitat (canopy coverage less than 10%) dominated by Old Field perennial species. It is located adjacent to dense forested uplands (canopy coverage 80 - 90%) and has no food source for the Karner Blue Butterfly. The Ecological Solutions report

 

17

- 2.7.7 The Commission's Prior Review

 

The Commission provided a letter dated November 1, 1995, of its preliminary comments on an earlier version of the Project. Although these comments did not fully endorse the plan, it stated "[b]ased on field visits, discussion with staff, and your presentation to the Technical Committee, it is felt that there are ways to provide mitigation of impacts associated with this proj ect." The Proj ect incorporates the Commission's suggestion to leave the southerly lands adjacent to the Preserve lands on the west undeveloped. The development envelope southerly limits is proximate to the northern Preserve lands located west of the Site.

 

2.7.8 The Site

 

An ecological assessment of the Site was conducted by Ecological Solutions, LLC ("Ecological Solutions") to assess whether habitat on the Site is suitable and/or critical for the Karner Blue Butterfly and attempt to visually locate this species and the larvae's primary food source, Blue Lupine, on the Site.

 

The Project area was surveyed by Ecological Solutions four (4) times during April, May and July, 2000, for the presence of Karner Blue Butterflies and Blue Lupine. Ecological Solutions prepared a letter report of their findings. (See Appendix F) The letter report states, "[n]o individual Karner

 

r - Blue Butterflies or Blue Lupine was observed in any area on the property." The maj ority of the Site

 

is forested (Black Locust) with dense canopies.

 

In July, 1999, an assessment ofthe Site by Environmental Design and Research, P.C. ("EDR") was performed. The EDR site visit coincided with the second flight of Karner Blues and the weather conditions were conducive to butterfly activity. EDR observed Karner Blue Butterfly activity around the Crossgates Hill area. EDR confirmed that the Site contains no Blue Lupine and that no Karner Blue Butterflies were located on the Site.

 

The reports of Ecological Solutions and EDR each confirmed that the Site is not considered favorable for the Karner Blue Butterfly due to the dense shade/canopy created by Black Locusts that dominate the Site and no food source.

 

As noted in the Ecological Solutions Report, the Site contains three separate habitat types. Area 1 - Forested Uplands, Area 2 - Scrub/Shrub Wetlands and Area 3 - Old Field. Areas 1 and 2 have a habitat of low suitability for the Karner Blue Butterfly. Area 1 is primarily steep slopes-dunes with white pine and black locusts and Area 2 is a small wetland with densely wooded edges.

 

Area 3 consists of Old Field vegetation with dominant sandy soils. The Old Field area does not contain potential adult Karner Blue Butterfly habitat (canopy coverage less than 10%) dominated by Old Field perennial species. It is located adjacent to dense forested uplands (canopy coverage 80 - 90%) and has no food source for the Karner Blue Butterfly. The Ecological Solutions report

 

17

 

.- 2.7.7 The Commission's Prior Review

 

The Commission provided a letter dated November 1, 1995, of its preliminary comments on an earlier version of the Project. Although these comments did not fully endorse the plan, it stated "[b]ased on field visits, discussion with staff, and your presentation to the Technical Committee, it is felt that there are ways to provide mitigation of impacts associated with this proj ect." The Proj ect incorporates the Commission's suggestion to leave the southerly lands adjacent to the Preserve lands on the west undeveloped. The development envelope southerly limits is proximate to the northern Preserve lands located west of the Site.

 

2.7.8 The Site

 

An ecological assessment of the Site was conducted by Ecological Solutions, LLC ("Ecological Solutions") to assess whether habitat on the Site is suitable and/or critical for the Karner Blue Butterfly and attempt to visually locate this species and the larvae's primary food source, Blue Lupine, on the Site.

 

The Project area was surveyed by Ecological Solutions four (4) times during April, May and July, 2000, for the presence of Karner Blue Butterflies and Blue Lupine. Ecological Solutions prepared a letter report of their findings. (See Appendix F) The letter report states, "[n]o individual Karner

 

r - Blue Butterflies or Blue Lupine was observed in any area on the property." The maj ority of the Site

 

is forested (Black Locust) with dense canopies.

 

In July, 1999, an assessment ofthe Site by Environmental Design and Research, P.C. ("EDR") was performed. The EDR site visit coincided with the second flight of Karner Blues and the weather conditions were conducive to butterfly activity. EDR observed Karner Blue Butterfly activity around the Crossgates Hill area. EDR confirmed that the Site contains no Blue Lupine and that no Karner Blue Butterflies were located on the Site.

 

The reports of Ecological Solutions and EDR each confirmed that the Site is not considered favorable for the Karner Blue Butterfly due to the dense shade/canopy created by Black Locusts that dominate the Site and no food source.

 

As noted in the Ecological Solutions Report, the Site contains three separate habitat types. Area 1 - Forested Uplands, Area 2 - Scrub/Shrub Wetlands and Area 3 - Old Field. Areas 1 and 2 have a habitat of low suitability for the Karner Blue Butterfly. Area 1 is primarily steep slopes-dunes with white pine and black locusts and Area 2 is a small wetland with densely wooded edges.

 

Area 3 consists of Old Field vegetation with dominant sandy soils. The Old Field area does not contain potential adult Karner Blue Butterfly habitat (canopy coverage less than 10%) dominated by Old Field perennial species. It is located adjacent to dense forested uplands (canopy coverage 80 - 90%) and has no food source for the Karner Blue Butterfly. The Ecological Solutions report

 

17

 

..,


states:

 

"There are several attributes of Area 3 that detract from its ability to support Karner Blue Butterfly populations. Residential dwellings, commercial properties, and upland forest with a dense canopy layer surround the Site. The lack of Blue Lupine on and immediately adjacent to the properties indicates that sustained populations are not present."

 

2.7.9 Conclusion

 

Based on the prior studies, analysis and legal precedents, it appears that an ecologically viable Preserve may have been assembled. In any event, the Site does not contain habitat suitable for the Karner Blue Butterfly. The value of the Site, as identified in the Implementation Guidelines, is maintained by limiting the development envelope to the northern portion of the Site. The framework for the manner in which the necessary 2,000 acres would be acquired in the absence of the subject parcels is set forth in the Implementation Guidelines. Retaining ~t 10 acres of land as undeveloped lands meets the goals and objectives for the site as identified in the Implementation Guidelines.

 

Human Resources

 

2.8 Transportation and Traffic

 

A Traffic Impact Study was prepared for the Proj ect by Transportation Concepts, LLP. It provides a detailed analysis of highway capacity in this area. This study is presented as Appendix A, "Traffic Impact Study".

 

The study area for this Project includes the Washington Avenue Extension area at the Columbia Circle Drive intersection. The existing condition of this roadway is summarized in the following subsections.

 

2.8.1 Description of Roadway Network

 

The Traffic Impact Study analyzed the existing carrying capacity of the existing road network.

 

Roadways

 

Washington Avenue Extension is an east-west arterial roadway that extends west from Fuller Road to New Karner Road. It is a divided highway servicing developments along the northern and southern lands adjacent thereto. Two travel lanes (12' minimum width) and a paved shoulder (12' minimum width) are provided for travel in each direction. A curbed island with guide railings separates the east and west travel lanes. The posted speed limit is 55 mph.

 

18


Columbia Circle Drive is classified as a north-south local roadway extending northwest from Pitch Pine East to the intersection of Washington Avenue Extension. Columbia Circle Drive is generally a two-lane paved roadway with grass shoulders which serves office development in the area. The posted speed limit is 30 mph.

 

South Frontage Road is classified as an east-west collector roadway that extends west from Springsteen Road to nearly New Karner Road. The South Frontage Road provides for a two-lane paved roadway with grassed shoulder areas. The posted speed limit is 25 mph.

 

Intersections

 

Potential Project-related traffic was evaluated by studying Columbia Circle Drive/Rapp Road at Washington Avenue Extension and South Frontage Road intersections. The specific intersections evaluated include:

 

a. Columbia Circle Drive at South Frontage Road

 

This intersection operates as a four-legged, unsignalized intersection approximately 150 feet south of the Washington Avenue Extension/Rapp Road intersection.

 

b. Columbia Circle Drive at Washington Avenue Extension -

 

This intersection operates as a four-legged, actuated, three (3)-phase signal controlled intersection located just north of the South Frontage Road.

 

c. Columbia Circle Drive at Site Driveways R1 through R5 (refer to Figure 1-2 of the Traffic Impact Study)

 

Intersection R1 through R4 driveways with Columbia Circle Drive will serve the elderly tenement buildings each with full access to and from Columbia Circle Drive controlled by a stop sign at each egress location. R5 will serve the 50-unit independent senior living center and will be a full access driveway, located opposite R4, and controlled by a posted stop sign.

 

d. Columbia Circle Drive at Driveways R6 and C1 (refer to Figure 1-2 of the Traffic Impact Study)

 

R6 and C1 are each planned with full access to Columbia Circle Drive and South Frontage Road, respectively. Traffic will be controlled by a posted stop sign.

 

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.,


- - 2.8.2 Existing Traff~c Operations

 

Tuming count movements were collected in February, 2001 and the appropriate AM and PM peak hours were determined. Traffic count data was then collected during the peak hour periods (7:458:45 AM and 4:30-5:30 PM) at:

 

Columbia Circle Drive at South Frontage Road; and

 

Columbia Circle Drive at Washington Avenue Extension

 

2.8.3 Capacity Analysis

 

A capacity analysis was performed for the above-mentioned intersections using the traffic volumes from the peak hours. The results of the analysis, shown in Appendix A, indicate that during the existing AM peak hour at Washington Avenue Extension/Columbia Circle Drive, most of the movements had a LOS C or better with the overall intersection operation of LOS B. The PM peak hour conditions at this intersection indicate less overall delay, however one movement, the southbound left turn, received a LOS F rating. The capacity analysis summaries are attached in Appendix A.

 

2.9 Noise

 

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The major noise generator in the Project vicinity is vehicular traffic on Washington Avenue Extension which borders the Project Site to the north. There are existing developments surrounding the Project including residences along the southern property line. Development immediately west of the Site consists of many office building facilities, while development east of the Site is the Daughters of Sarah facility which is currently undergoing an expansion.

 

2.10 Land Use and Zoning

 

2.10.1 City of Albany Zoning Ordinance

 

The Site is located within a R-4 Multi-family High-rise Residential Zoning District which permits both multi-family dwellings/high-rise (elevator apartments) and garden apartments. Hospitals, day care centers and nursing homes are permitted upon issuance of a special use permit. The Applicants intend to seek and obtain a special use permit from the City of Albany Board of Zoning Appeals. Accordingly, the Project is in harmony with the City's land use plan.

 

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. . _ . . . . . .


- 2.10.2 Existing Land Use

 

Properties immediately south of the Site are residential in nature. Immediately west of the Site includes numerous offices facilities. In the vicinity of the Site is a regional mall, a super power shopping center, a banquet house, community centers and Fire and Police facilities, all along Washington Avenue Extension. The Daughters of Sarah residential facilities are located im~nediately east of the Site.

 

2.11 Cultural Resources

 

2.11.1 Historic and Archeological Resources

 

Collamer and Associates, Inc. was retained by the Applicant to conduct a Phase IA Cultural Resource Investigation for the Site.

 

The Phase IA study included a review of the environmental setting and background research, examining historic maps and local histories. In addition, the archeological site inventory files and the results of prior cultural resource investigations at OPRHP were examined to identify recorded sites within one mile of the Project area and aid in determining the archeological potential of the region.

 

Based, in part, upon the high archeological potential of the Project area, a Phase IB archeological field investigation was initiated. The Phase IB archeological field investigation was designed to provide areasonable determination ofthepresence or absence of significant cultural resourceswithin the Project area.

 

The Stage IB testing uncovered a limited number of historic artifacts suggesting these materials represent scattered secondary deposits related to the recent development of the area. The prehistoric artifacts appear to be stray material. The Stage IB report concluded that "the project area does not appear to meet the criteria to nomination to the State or National Register of Historic Places. No further archeological investigations are recommended at this time."

 

2.11.2 VisualResources

 

The Project Site was evaluated for visual resource characteristics and existing conditions. To identify potential effects on visual resources, the first step is to evaluate the existing Site in the context of the surrounding area and to identify the potential receptors. Visual receptors are those individuals or groups of individuals which will have direct views of the existing and proposed site.

 

A field survey was conducted to identify the potential receptors. Two groups of users were identified, the drivers using the roadway system and occupants of developed areas in the vicinity of the Site. The first group's views are significantly different from the second. The views for the users

 

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of Washington Avenue Extension are primarily fixed along the roadway corridor and much of the Project is shielded from this view by existing development along Washington Avenue Extension. The second group located along the Site property boundaries will, potentially, have a more direct view ofthe Project. The potential view of residents to the south will depend upon the amount ofthe forested vegetation that will be removed as part of the Applicant's proposal to remove invasive Pine Bush species and then re-landscape. In any event, the southern portion of the development envelope closest to the residences to the south will consist of residential style cottages. The residences to the south will be screened by retention of some existing vegetation and natural dune. Properties east and west of the Site will be buffered through retention of existing vegetation.

 

There will be no adverse impact on the viewscape.

 

2.12 Community Facilities and Services

 

This section discusses existing local services, including medical, educational, police, ambulance and fire protection services. Existing public utilities are also described including waste water, water supply, electric and telephone.

 

2.12.1 Police Protection

 

Police protection in the City of Albany is provided by the City of Albany Police Department. The nearest police station is the Pine Bush Police and Fire Station located at #223 Washington Avenue Extension at relocated Rapp Road in the immediate vicinity of the Site. The Albany Police Department provides protection from the Pine Bush substation. Police protection is considered adequate to serve the current needs of the City of Albany and to accommodate reasonable growth.

 

2.12.2 FireProtection

 

The Project area receives fire protection from the City of Albany Fire Department. The nearest fire station is the Pine Bush Police and Fire Station located at #223 Washington Avenue Extension, at relocated Rapp Road in the immediate vicinity of the Site. Fire protection is considered adequate to serve the current needs of the City of Albany and to accommodate reasonable growth.

 

2.12.3 Ambulance Service

 

2.12.4 Medical Services

 

Emergency health care facilities are located within 6 miles of the Site at St. Peters Hospital, New Scotland Avenue and a Regional Trauma Center is available within 8 miles at Albany Medical Center, New Scotland Avenue. Outpatient clinics are also available. Health care facilities in this area are more than adequate to serve the needs ofthe City of Albany and to accommodate reasonable growth.

 

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2.12.5 Solid Waste Disposal

 

Solid waste will be disposed by private contractors and delivered to an approved landfill.

 

2.12.6 Water Service

 

The total expected water use of the Project is estimated at 65,000 gallons per day. This quantity of water is insignif~cant given the current operating level of the City of Albany's supply of 19 million gallons per day. The safe yield of the existing system is 26,600,000. The capacity of the City to supply and distribute water will not be affected by this Proj ect. The Pine Bush area is served by an elevated one million gallon storage tank which is in good condition and stores adequate water for service to the area. Recent improvements have been made to the Pine Bush Water Distribution system. These improvements maintain pressure for users in this area. The increase in usage will have no adverse impact on the City of Albany water system.

 

2.12.7 SewerService

 

The Project will be served by a local sewer located along Columbia Circle Drive, the Pine Bush Interceptor Sewer. Sewer facilities are considered adequate to serve the needs of the City of Albany and to accommodate additional growth in this area. The Pine Bush Interceptor Sewer was designed for the full build out of the Pine Bush area. Given the substantial amount of set asides and acquisitions for Preserve purposes, the Pine Bush Interceptor Sewer will have suff~cient capacity for any development in this area.

 

2.12.9 Electric, Natural Gas and Telephone Services

 

Natural gas and electric services are provided to the area by The Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation. These services, as well as telecommunications service, are currently available by a hook-up to the existing lines along Washington Avenue Extension. There is suff~cient capacity to service the Project. ~

 

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SECTION 3 POTENTIAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED ACTION AND 1HITIGATING MEASURES

 

This section discusses the environmental impacts, both positive and negative, associated with constructing and operating the Proj ect. Where appropriate, mitigating measures for potential adverse impacts are also identified.

 

Construction activity at the Project Site will result in certain short-term, unavoidable impacts. Activities such as tree cutting, grubbing, filling, grading, excavation, construction of roads, parking areas, buildings and utilities, and transport of material to the Site will consume fuels, divert traffic to the Site and result in some noise, dust, odors and vibration. These activities will also create jobs, thus having a positive impact on local employment and private sector economic structure. This section of the DEIS will also discuss operational impacts, which include transportation related activities, changes in land use, noise levels, drainage and water quality. A description of each respective potential impact follows.

 

3.1. Geology, Soils and Topography

 

A. Potential Impacts

 

The development of the Proj ect will have an effect on Site topography. Clearing of vegetation and grading of the Site will be required prior to construction of the Project. The existing Site characteristics include two dunes, the dune on the northern portion of the Site will be graded to accommodate the Project. The second dune will be substantially maintained to provide a natural buffer area.

 

Use of proper construction techniques to minimize erosion will be used. A Site specific erosion and sediment control plan will be incorporated into the Project. The erosion control measures may include the use of straw bale barriers, siltation fencing and basins, erosion seeding and tire clean-off areas at access roads. After construction, new landscaping will be maintained in the developed area.

 

B. Mitigative Measures

 

The following measures will be employed to mitigate the construction phase impacts on the Site due to soil disturbance:

 

1. Erosion preventative measures, such as jute mesh or hay bale filters, will be

 

employed during construction.

 

2. Stockpiled top soil will be either seeded with an annual rye grass or covered with an

 

erosion control fabric. Soil slippage at the toe of the stocked area will be prevented by installing hay bales or filter fabric barriers at the perimeter.

 

24

 

_.


r:

 

3. During construction, dust will be controlled with a water tank truck equipped with spray nozzles.

 

4. Tire clean-off areas will be designated at access roads.

 

There are no operational impacts anticipated with the proposed Project, therefore no mitigation is needed.

 

3.2 Hydrology and Water Quality

 

A Potential Impacts

 

The Site will be permanently affected by the proposed construction and operation of the Project. Most notably, the proposed development will introduce impervious surfaces to the Site, which will in turn increase the quantity and rate of stormwater runoff. Stormwater pollutant loadings including, but not limited to sediment, oil and grease and metals will also increase. The stormwater runoff would contain these higher pollutant loadings due to the flushing of accumulated pollutants on the impervious surfaces between rain events.

 

B. Mitigative Measures

 

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A stormwater management report has been prepared and is presented in Appendix C. This plan projects and proposes control of the amount of stormwater runoff resulting from the development of the Project.

 

All stormwater on the developed portion of the Site will be controlled and directed to the proposed central storm water management basin where it will recharge to the ground water table. The storm water system will be used to collect and convey water to the central storm water management basin.

 

3.3 Vegetation and Wetlands A. Potential Impacts

 

Construction of the Project will involve the removal of existing vegetation on the Project Site. A significant amount of natural vegetation will be left undisturbed by development on the southerly b 10 acres of the Site. In this area, the Applicant proposes to intensively re-vegetate with natural Pine Bush indigenous species after the removal of invasive species, including Black Locust.

 

No state jurisdictional wetlands are present on the Site. A total of +0.52 acres of federal wetlands have been identified on the Site. The Project has been designed to avoid any potential significant adverse impact on the designated federal wetlands.

 

25

 

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~: ~

 

B. Mitigative Measures

 

1. The southerly portion of the Site as identif~ed on the site plan, outside the

development envelope, will be cleared of species of vegetation considered invasive

to the Pine Bush and re-planted with native Pine Bush vegetation in cooperation with

the Commission.

2. The construction of a central stormwater management basin will function to maintain

post-development peak stormwater discharges to at or below their pre-development

levels.

3. During construction, implement appropriate soil and erosion control measures to

reduce any potential impacts.

3.4 Wildlife

 

A. Potential Impacts

 

During construction of the Project, existing vegetation will be removed from the Project Site, resulting in the unavoidable loss of potential wildlife habitat and potential displacement of resident populations to other areas. Natural vegetation, with the exception of invasive Pine Bush species, will be left undisturbed along the southern portion of the Site. For those wildlife species that are displaced and are capable of migrating to adj acent lands, adequate habitat of similar character exists in the area to support them. Reduction of habitat may result in the reduction of species which can be supported. However, no signif~cant adverse effect to wildlife is anticipated.

 

Based on a comprehensive Site investigation, no threatened, rare or endangered species of wildlife have been identified to occur on the Project Site.

 

B. Mitigative l\leasures

 

While habitat loss will be unavoidable, the impact is not considered to be signif~cant.

 

3.5 Climate

 

A. Potential Impacts

 

The construction and operation of the Project will have no notable impact on climate. As such, no mitigation is required.

 

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l

 

3.6 Air Quality

 

A. Potential Impacts

 

Construction activities required to prepare the Site for building as wel] as construction of roads and parking areas will cause a slight increase in airborne particulates from windborn dusts and soils.

 

In addition, emissions can be expected from construction machinery, construction worker and delivery truck traffic. Exhaust emissions will result in slight localized elevations of ambient concentrations of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and hydrocarbons. Because of the relatively short construction period, the impact of exhaust emissions will be minimal. These are short-term, temporary, local adverse impacts.

 

According to NYSDEC Bureau of Air Quality Surveillance, the City of Albany is considered "attainment area" under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

 

B. Mitigative Measures

 

The following measures are proposed to mitigate potential construction impacts on atmospheric resources at the Site:

 

1. Precautions will be taken during construction with respect to control of airborne

dusts through the use of conventional water spray trucks to maintain a moist ground

surface and thereby reduce dust dispersion. Water trucks will also be utilized, as

needed, to maintain optimum grading conditions, ensure proper control of

compaction, and minimize off-site migration of fugitive dust.

2. Rapid revegetation and landscaping will be used to help retard off-site migration of

fugitive dust.

3. All construction equipment will be required to have operable emission control and

anti-pollution equipment in compliance with applicable laws.

3.7 Pine Bush

 

3.7.1 Assumption - An Ecologically Viable Preserve has not been Assembled.

 

Assuming, for the sake of argument, contrary to the conclusions reached in Section 2.7, that an ecologically viable Preserve has not been assembled, the following provides an additional detailed analysis of Preserve based on the Commission's Implementation Guidelines.

 

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3.7.2 Implementation Guidelines

 

The Implementation Guidelines were prepared by the Commission to supplement the Management Plan with respect to the project review guidelines and processes.

 

The Implementation Guidelines address the issue of configuration (and size) of a preserve required for the long-term conservation of the Albany Pine Bush ecosystem and the Karner Blue Butterfly.

 

The Implementation Guidelines are dated February 12, 1996 and the Findings Statement by the Commission, adopting the Guidelines, is dated March 28, 1996. It has been reported that the Commission is in the process of revising the Implementation Guidelines, however, no such plan has been adopted. The Implementation Guidelines on Map #9 shows the "Vision for the Albany Pine Bush Preserve", and presents the Commission's recommendation for the future size and configuration of the Preserve. Map #9 shows the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Lands as of February, 1996, and lands recommended for "full protection", "open space", and "partial protection".

 

The Findings Statement explains the rationale for these recommendations as follows:

 

Based on research by Thomas Givnish, Eric Menges and Dale Schweitzer, the Commission concludes that aminimum area of 2.000 fire mana~ed acres of pitch pine-scrub oak barren community~ that are contiguous to the maximum extent practicable, are required for the lon~-term conservation of the Albany Pine Bush ecosystem and the Karner blue butterfly. While approximately 2,220 gross acres are considered protected by the various agencies, organizations and municipalities that make up the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, not all of this area can be restored to and maintained as pitch pine-scrub oak barrens. As detailed in the FEIS appendix I, there are approximately 1,630 currently protected areas towards the minimum 2,000 acre goal. ConsequentlY. a minimum of approximately 370 more acres of pitch pine-scrub oak barrens or potentially restorable pitch pine-scrub oak barrens are recommended for protection to reach the desire goal of obtaining 2,OOO acres of pitch pine-scrub oak barrens that can be maintained by fire. This is a conservative estimate since it assumes that the Commission will be able to burn within 75 feet of some adjacent properties and that areas supporting black locust can be completely restored to pitch pine-scrub oak barrens. Additional protection recommendations are based on the necessity of maintaining a reasonable degree of Preserve contiguity, buffer and protection of environmentally sensitive resources such as the Karner blue butterfly. Based on this, and as set forth in the FEIS and Guidelines, the Commission recommends full protection of an

 

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additional 1,730 acres for a total of 3,980 acres fully protected.

 

Implementation Guidelines p.5 (emphasis added).

 

The most current configuration of the Preserve, showing land protected, land under negotiation for acquisition and lands classified "full protection" still available for inclusion in the Preserve is shown in Appendix H (the Hershberg Report).

 

The Project Site is identified in the Implementation Guidelines as a portion of Area 29 (full protection area) and Area 49 (partial protection area). Area 29 is a ~t48 acre parcel consisting of +20 acres under the control of the Daughters of Sarah Nursing Home company, Inc. and the re~nainder located south of the existing Teresian House facilities and is owned by the Diocese.

 

There are or were several projects before permit issuing boards for approval, which have, may have or may be perceived to have an impact on the future configuration of the Preserve, or on the ability to complete a Preserve of 2,000 fire manageable areas.

 

Such proj ects are listed below, together with their current status. These proj ects were identif~ed from files and information provided by the four municipalities in the study area.

 

These projects and their potential impact, if approved, on the configuration of the Preserve and the ability to complete the Preserve in relation to the Project are listed and discussed below.

Municipality Address Type of Application Description Remarks/Status

Projects Proposed in Full Protection Areas

207.1 additional acres for the Preserve
Albany 400-495 Rapp Rd. Zone Change to C-PB Office Building 359,000 SF- 47 acres

47 acres Fully Preserved

Guilderland Siver Rd.(Feeney parcel) Subdivision Original proposed 29 lots now 3 lots 130 acres 115 FullyPreserved
Village of Colonie Fox Run Estates 151 Lincoln Avenue Subdivision/Site Plan 85 lot addition to mobile park home 42 acres Pending acquisition by the City of Albany (42 acres)
Albany 180 WAE (Daughters of Sarah) Site Plan Assisted living units 24 single room occupancy memory enhancement residence Conditionally approved. Pending 3.1 acre conservation easement

Projects proposed in Partial Protection Areas 4.5 additional acres for the Preserve

Albany 365 WAE (Laberge) Zone Change toC-PB Office Building 85,000 SF Approved. 2.7 acres set aside
Albany 300 WAE (Touhey) Zone Change to C-PB, Site Plan Office Buildings 110,000 SF Approved.1.8 acres set aside
Projects proposed in Open Space Area
Albany Rapp Road | NYSDEC Landfill Expansion Conditionally approved
Projects proposed in Unclassified Areas
Albany 161 WAE Site Plan Retail Expansion 140,000 SF Approved
Village of Colonie Northway Mall Site Plan, Variance Accessory Gas Station Approved
Guilderland Crossgates Special Use Permit, Variance and Rezoning +2,000,000 SF Retail Expansion Considered to be Withdrawn
Albany WAE (TimeWarner Cable) Rezoning, Site Plan Office Expansion and Restaurant Approved Rezone for Offices only

 

The impact of each of these proj ects, if approved, on the configuration of the Preserve and the ability to complete it (assuming for the sake of argument, it has not been completed), is discussed below.

 

Projects which have not been formally submitted are also not part of this discussion. Any attempt to assess their impact on the future size of the Preserve or its configuration would be pure speculation.

 

3.7.3 Individual Analysis of Projects' Impacts on Completion and Configuration of the Preserve

 

400-495 Rapp Road, Albany

 

This project entailed development of office buildings on +47 acres of land bordering the landfill parcel on the east and Six Mile Water Works on the west. The property was classified as "full protection" - see Areas 13 and 14 on Map 9 in the Implementation Guidelines.

 

Although this property received rezoning approval, the property was later acquired by the State of New York and included in the Preserve. The acquisition ofthis property was identified as necessary

 

30


l

 

providing enhanced linkage and buffer for the northeast portion of the Preserve.

 

Siver Road (Feeney Property), Guilderland

 

This project involves the southern half of Area 56 (see Map 9 in the Implementation Guidelines) which is identified for full protection. +115 acres out of the i130 acres were dedicated to the Preserve. The remaining acres will be developed into a 3-lot residential subdivision. Therefore, this additional acreage assisted the Commission in realizing its goal and obj ective in providing additional linkage and buffer functions identified in the In1plementation Guidelines.

 

Acquisition of this property is considered signif~cant because the Commission also acquired lands immediately to the north (the Mrozek parcel) which completed the disposition of Area 56. In addition, mitigation fees were to be paid to be used for acquisition of other lands to compensate for the loss of 15 acres.

 

151 Lincoln Avenue, Village of Colonie and Rapp Road Landfill Expansion

 

The City of Albany proposed a 25-acre expansion of the landfill. The area identified for the expansion is within an unclassified category within the study area.

 

The Fox Run Estates Mobile Home Park expansion was proposed for an additional 85 lots and is identified in the Implementation Guidelines as Area 16. As part ofthe City's approval permit from NYSDEC, the City is obligated to purchase, or otherwise acquire, the mobile home park. In Spring, 2000, the City and residents of the Fox Run Estates Mobile Home Park agreed to a buyout of the 20acre park and the undeveloped 40-acre parcel in additional land, which eventually will be dedicated for Preserve purposes and serve linkage and buffer functions, their identified purpose, as identified in the Implementation Guidelines.

 

300 Washington Avenue Extension, Albany

 

This project entails the development of ~ 110,000 SF of of fice facilities on a 12-acre parcel that has been classified as `'partial protection" and known as Area 6 (see Map 9 in the Implementation Guidelines). As approved by the Common Council (rezoning) and the Planning Board (site plan approval), the benefits of the project include i2 acres being donated to the Preserve, increased fire management ability on the former Muncie property by permitting burning up to the site boundary, removal of invasive species and payment of mitigation fees for the development of a portion of the site.

 

161 Washington Avenue Extension, Albany

 

This project entails the expansion of Crossgates Cornmons by an additional 140,000 SF of retail space. This project is located on unclassified land (see Map 9 in the Implementation Guidelines);

 

31


therefore, development of this project will have no effect on configuration or completion of the Preserve.

 

Time Warner Expansion, Albany

 

This application entailed a rezoning, site plan approval and subdivision approval proposal to permit an expansion of the existing Time Warner facilities located on Washington Avenue Extension as well as development of a restaurant to be situated on an adjoining parcel to the east. In connection with this expansion, the existing NYSDEC management area would have been expanded to include a portion of lands in the immediate vicinity of the Karner Blue Butterfly Corral area (see Area 41 on Map 9 in the Implementation Guidelines). As set forth in the responses to the com~nent section of the Implementation Guidelines, "DEC's Bureau of Wildlife feels that this expanded management area is sufficiently configured to achieve the goal of providing a linkage for the butterfly, from the Mall at least as far west as Rapp Road." (See Implementation Guidelines, Response to Comment 44). However, even though a portion of the lands were eventually rezoned to solely permit the Time Warner expansion, Time Warner reportedly decided to relocate its operations to a different municipality. There are no applications pending for any development of these lands.

 

180 Washington Avenue Extension - Daughters of Sarah

 

On March 8,2001, the City of Albany Planning Board approved construction of an Assisted Living Facility. The Assisted Living Facility is proposed to be located adjacent to the northeast portion of the site. This development is to be located on lands outside Area 29. The next phase of the Daughters of Sarah development includes development within a portion of Area 29 to permit construction of a memory enhancement center. The memory enhancement center will be located along the southern portion of the site and involves the cleaning of ~t 0.6 acres of land within Area 29. A proposed 3.1 acre conservation easement is pending approval by the Commission.

 

3.7.4 Analysis of Cumulative Impacts of Pending Projects

 

The Implementation Guidelines developed in 1996 recommended a Preserve of 3,950 gross acres to be achieved by adding 1,750 gross acres of "full protection" land to 2,170 gross acres of Preserve. According to the Implementation Guidelines, this would satisfy the goal of at least 2,000 fire manageable acres and be of such a configuration as to assure the long-term protection of the Pine Bush ecology and the Karner Blue Butterfly. In the three years after their adoption, the Preserve has increased to approximately 2,530.43 gross acres. See Hershberg Report. Since 1999, a number of additional lands have been acquired for Preserve purposes increasing the gross acre total to ~2,884.33.

 

The only known active approval in the vicinity of the site is the adjacent property known as the Daughters of Sarah.

 

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3.7.4.1 Analysis of the impact of pending projects proposed for lands classii:ied "full protection"

 

The review of individual pending projects (as noted above) shows that currently there are no projects before permit granting agencies classified "full protection" in the vicinity of the site, except the Daughters of Sarah. However, the Daughters of Sarah approval is conditioned:

 

Upon the Daughters of Sarah establishing a set aside or conservation easement which will provide a maintainable and continuous dispersal corridor from Pine Lane is the vicinity of the Niagara Mohawk Right-of-Way (on the east) to the portion of Area No. 29 in the rear of the Teresian House (on the west) prior to granting of any approval with regard to the Memory Enhancement Unit and prior to any disturbance within Area No. 29.

 

Therefore, a "dispersal corridor" must be identified to the south of the Daughters of Sarah property prior to construction of that Project within Area No. 29. A 3.1 acre conservation easement and a 5.9 acre maintenance area agreement is pending.

 

The Time Warner Expansion, located to the east of the Daughters of Sarah, is in the vicinity of the butterfly Corral. No significant habitat would be developed in connection with that proposal. Although the rezoning of the Time Warner site was approved, no application for site plan approval is pending before the City of Albany Planning Board.

 

Therefore, the cumulative impact of the Daughters of Sarah project together with the proposed Project on the ability to complete a Preserve of at least 2,000 fire manageable acres and on the configuration of the Preserve, can be shown.

 

The cumulative impact analyses-impact on impact on the configuration of the Preserve - must be conducted and evaluated to ensure the long-term survival of the Pine Bush ecology and the Karner Blue Butterfly. Therefore, it is essential to assess impacts by consideration of both the total fire manageable acreage and in the context of the Preserve configuration.

 

This is particularly so in the context of the Project. A portion of the Site has been identified as full protection in the Implementation Guidelines based on its perceived ability to provide linkage and buffer functions for the existing colony of Karner Blue Butterfly located at the Corral to the east and the Preserve lands located to the west ofthe Site. Therefore, the configuration ofthe Preserve in this area would appear to be of paramount importance, as opposed to the total number of acres (gross and/or fire manageable) that may be within the Preserve.

 

As set forth in the Report by Ecological Solutions, the retention of the southerly +10 acres of land, coupled with the eradication of invasive Pine Bush species and re-vegetation with native Pine Bush species is consistent with the goals and objections set forth in the Implementation Guidelines for the

 

33

 

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Site. This area to be retained is significantly larger and wider than the 150' to 300' corridor referenced by NYSDEC as being adequate for the dispersal of butterflies from the Corral area. See Implementation Guidelines, Response to Comment 44. The Project will be consistent with the Planning Board's prior approval ofthe development on the adjacent property relative to the creation of a potential dispersal corridor (See Appendix M).

 

No pending proj ect on "full protection" land will significantly impact the ability of the Site to meet the goals and obj ectives set forth in the Implementation Guidelines for the Site relative to its linkage and buffer potential, nor is it possible for other lands identified as "partial protection" in the vicinity to be able to provide an adequate configuration to meet the Pine Bush preservation goals.

 

The above represents the detailed analysis of the individual and cumulative impacts of pending projects on the configuration and size of the Preserve. The results of these analyses is that:

 

· Protecting approximately 10 acres of "full protection" lands by re-landscaping with

 

native Pine Bush species will meet the goals and objectives identified for this Site contained in the Implementation Guidelines.

 

· The Planning Board's prior conditional approval requirement for an adjacent

 

property, the Daughters of Sarah, ensures that Area 29 will be developed in an ecologically responsible manner and preserve such lands that will meet the gorals and objectives of the Implementation Guidelines.

 

Mitigation Measures

 

· The eradication the identified invasive Pine Bush vegetation on the southerly +10 acres of the Site in cooperation with the Commission.

 

· Re-vegetation of the southerly +10 acres of the Site with native Pine Bush species in cooperation with the Commission.

 

3.7.4.2 Funding

 

The Implementation Guidelines (p. 36) states that estimates of the cost to achieve land acquisition and protection goals range from $10 M to $25 M. Potential funding sources include, but are not limited to, NYS Environmental Protection Fund, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal and State transportation funds, local governments, private foundations and mitigation fees. Money from the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act has also been made available.

 

On March 22, 2001, the Governor's office announced that the Commission will receive $475,000 to assist in the purchase of 100 additional acres of land within the Pine Bush. (See Appendix J). This reportedly will bring the total acreage to 2,850 within the Preserve. Another $100,000 will pay


for the design and site location for an interpretive education center within the Preserve.

 

Based on a commitment of each municipality within the Preserve and from New York State, it appears reasonable to conclude that the Preserve can be completed (assuming it has not already been completed) by utilizing available funding streams provided essential full protection areas can be kept available for eventual acquisition.

 

3.8 Transportation and Traffic A. Potential Impacts Construction Phase

 

Construction of the Project will generate only limited additional traffic in the area. At peak construction employment of as many as 50 additional workers could be on the Site.

 

While some workers will arrive throughout the day, the majority can be expected to arrive prior to the AM peak traffic hour and to depart prior to the PM peak traffic hour. Since workers will not arrive and leave at the AM and PM peak traffic hours, the impact is expected to be minimal on local roadways.

 

Impacts from construction traffic are temporary, short term and local in nature and are typical of any construction project.

 

Operation Phase

 

The Site generated trip distribution of new traffic that will be generated by the Project was based on existing traffic patterns and projected movements for the morning (AM) and evening (PM) peak hours. In order to provide a conservative analysis, site trips have been shown from one driveway location to provide an estimate for Level of Service (LOS) for the total buildout of the Project.

 

The anticipated Site generated volumes were added to the background volumes according to the arrival/departure distribution. The resulting full development combined volumes were used to analyze the key intersections for level of service and potential roadway improvements. Table 3-1 in the Traff~c Impact Study represents the combined traffic volumes expected to travel on the surrounding highway system, if the Project is fully developed, for both the morning and evening peak travel hours.

 

The level of service for signalized intersections is defined in terms of average delay experienced by each motorist. Specifically, level of service criteria are stated in terms of the average stopped delay per vehicle for a 60-minute analysis period, and range from A to F. An overall intersection level of service D or better is generally considered acceptable at signalized intersections. Signalized intersections with levels of service below D indicated that, during the peak 60-minute travel period

 

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at the intersection, the average stop delay per vehicle traveling through the intersection will exceed 55 seconds.

 

A comparison between existing and combined conditions analysis for the Washington Avenue Extension/Columbia Circle Drive intersection revealed, during the AM peak hour, that the approach LOS ratings change for each of the westbound, northbound and southbound left-turn movements. Noting that the northbound left is the only approach that indicates a LOS reading lower than LOS D.

 

Comparing the PM conditions, only the northbound approach LOS are shown to change. However, overall LOSC rating is provided with added trips from the Project.

 

A comparison analysis between existing and combined conditions was performed for the unsignalized intersection of Columbia Circle Drive and the South Frontage Road intersection. Table 3-1 of the Traffic Impact Study indicates this intersection operates at an overall LOS A rating during the AM existing peak travel hour. The addition of a southbound right-turn lane and eastbound and westbound left-turn lane will allow a LOSB rating to be maintained with additional site trips. The PM LOS rating indicate an overall LOS C will be maintained, with approach ratings of LOSC or better for most approaches with or without the recommended roadway improvements, with the exception of the eastbound and westbound left turns at the South Frontage Road which indicates below LOSE. Comparatively, SYNCRO analysis suggest that this intersection is optimized with the Washington Avenue intersection that overall LOSC ratings will occur during both peak periods.

 

B. Mitigative Measures

 

Construction Phase

 

Impacts from construction worker traffic entering the Site are temporary, short term and local in nature. Construction workers will generally enter and leave the Site during off-peak hours. Specific, temporary traffic control will be implemented whenever necessary. To the extent practicable, construction vehicles will be required to maximize travel during off-peak hours. The off-site roadway improvements will be constructed pursuant to a highway work permit issued by the NYSDOT, including a formal maintenance and protection of traffic plan. This plan will ensure minimum disruption of traffic during construction.

 

Operation Phase

 

The proposed development will not have any significant adverse effect on the existing roadway system, provided that the recommended improvements are constructed. The following summarizes the recommended improvements:

 

· Ground mounted intersection warning sign at the southbound approach to site driveway R4 and R5.

 

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~~ · Construction of a southbound right-turn lane and eastbound and westbound left-turn

lanes at Columbia Circle Drive and the South Frontage Road intersection, subject to

available right-of-way.

· Signal optimization, roadway/sign/stripe to alleviate traffic confusion at the South

Frontage Road and Columbia Circle Drive caused by existing geometric def~ciencies.

3.9 Noise

 

A. Potential Impacts

 

Although noise impacts during construction are of short duration, noise from construction equipment can be expected.

 

Major construction activities which would produce noise include:

 

- Earth work and excavation

 

- Paving and construction of the roadway and parking improvements.

 

For these activities the types of construction equipment generally utilized would include bulldozers, compressors, front end loaders as well as dump trucks and pavers. At a reference distance of 50 feet, the above equipment generally produce noise levels ranging from 70 to 95 decibels (A-weighted dBA).

 

There are no sensitive receptors within 50 feet of the development envelope. However, there are some residential facilities in the vicinity of the Site. Construction noise impacts are temporary, short-term and local in nature. As a result, noise impacts are expected to be minimal. Operational noise levels will be limited to vehicular traffic entering and leaving the Site. Noise levels from these operations are not anticipated to be significant to adjoining properties given the distance to the nearest residences.

 

B. Mitigative Measures

 

1. Construction equipment will be properly muffled in accordance with all applicable regulations.

 

2. Equipment will be required to be properly maintained to reduce noise and vibration.

 

3.10 Demographics The Project will have no notable impact on demographics, therefore, no mitigation is necessary.

 

3.11 Land Use

 

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A. Potential Impacts

 

Current zoning permits multi-family dwellings/high-rise (elevator apartments) and garden apartments as uses on the Project Site. Hospitals and day-care centers are permitted uses subject to issuance of a special use permit from the Board of Zoning Appeals.

 

The Project is consistent and compatible with existing land uses and zoning, therefore, no adverse effect is expected from the operational phase of the Project. Land uses in the immediate vicinity of the Project is a mix of commercial and residential uses including Crossgates Mall and Crossgates Commons, several office complexes, restaurants, community centers, municipal facilities, Wellspring House, Daughters of Sarah and other residential uses to the south. The proposed Proj ect is compatible with the surrounding uses.

 

Construction of the Project will replace the currently undeveloped property with a developed area and associated parking. The loss of this undeveloped area will not negatively affect land uses in the vicinity and is consistent with the intended use(s) of the Project Site.

 

As demonstrated in the Traffic Impact Study, the Project, with access to and from Washington Avenue Extension, will not result in significant adverse traffic impacts. Therefore, the Project is appropriate for the Site.

 

The Proj ect will not have a significant effect on land uses adj acent to or nearby the construction Site. Minimal disturbances from anticipated, short-term dust, noise and traffic impacts will be experienced. These impacts are short-term, local and temporary in nature.

 

B. Mitigative Measures

 

1. The Site will be maintained in a neat, orderly fashion to minimize any effects on the

 

surrounding area.

 

2. Construction equipment will be muffled in accordance with applicable standards.

3. A dust control program consisting of water spraying to suppress dust will be

 

implemented.

 

3.12 Cultural Resources

 

A. PotentialImpacts

 

The construction and operation ofthe proposed Project will not have any adverse impact on cultural resources and features. Therefore, no mitigation is necessary.

 

3.12.1 Historic and Archeological Resources

 

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The construction and operation of the proposed Proj ect will not have any adverse impact on historic resources, given the lack of any historic structures on, or immediately adjacent to the Project Site. See Appendix D.

 

Collan1er and Associates completed a Stage 1B archeological investigation and recommended no further archeological investigation for the Site.

 

3.12.2 VisualResources A. Potential Impacts

 

The Site is naturally buffered and screened from most public viewpoints in the Site vicinity. The visual analysis conducted found that those residences directly south of the Site based on the Applicant's intent remove vegetation considered to be invasive Pine Bush species, such as Black Locust trees, may be able to view the residential cottage-style homes to be constructed. This potential impact is considered minor. The proposed land use is consistent with the busy Washington Avenue Extension highway corridor and surrounding land use patterns. The design of the Project as proposed minimizes the impacts to the greatest extent possible by locating residence cottage-style housing closest to these residences, together with preservation of a buffer area, including retention of a dune and extensive landscaping will help to shield the Project from these residences.

 

Additional minor impacts could develop due to the use of Site lighting which is required within the Site parking areas. However, such lighting will be significantly screened from the adjoining residences due to the location of the development of the cottage residences.

 

B. Mitigation

 

A significant portion of the Site along the southern boundary will be left undeveloped. In addition, an existing dune will be retained which will buffer potential visual impacts. The Project should place specific emphasis on the treatment and installation of landscaping. There will be no adverse impact on the viewscape.

 

3.13 Community Facilities and Services 3.13.1 Police Protection A. PotentialImpacts

 

Police services will not be adversely affected since construction employment will be primarily drawn from the immediate area and therefore, few "new" individuals will be relocated to the area. Accidents or incidents that occur on the Project Site during construction will be reported and responded to by the City of Albany Police Department. The normal operation of residential facilities is not anticipated to adversely affect police services.

 

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- B. MitigativeMeasures

 

No mitigative measures are proposed since no significant adverse impacts are expected. The operation of the proposed residential facilities will not have any notable impact on the local Police Departments. Therefore, no mitigation is needed.

 

3.13.2 Fire Protection A. Potential Impacts

 

The City of Albany Fire Department will respond to any fire that might occur on the construction site and the facilities as they become operational. Based on the numerous high rise developments that currently exist in the City of Albany, the Fire Department has necessary equipment to control any fire in the high-rise residential facility. The City of Albany Fire Department has adequate manpower and equipment to provide fire protection for the Project. Local fire services are not expected to be impacted by normal construction or operational activities of this Project.

 

B. Mitigative Measures

 

No mitigative measures are proposed since no significant adverse effects are anticipated. The Fire Department will review and comment on hydrant locations, standpipe connections and the sprinkler system during the building design phase. Construction of the building will be in accordance with the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.

 

3.13.3 Ambulance Service A. Potential Impacts

 

The City of Albany Fire Department will respond to any reported accident, fire or emergency incident that occurs at the Site. Since the current level of service is very good, the proposed Project is not anticipated to cause any significant impact for emergency service to the Site or the surrounding community. Ambulance transportation is provided by private service and may respond to EMT requests.

 

B. Mitigative Measures

 

No mitigative measures are proposed since no significant adverse effects are anticipated.

 

3.13.4 Medical Services A. PotentialImpacts

 

The construction phase for the Project will not impact local medical services in any significant way.

 

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r Minor injuries that are incurred on the job site can be treated on-site or may require a visit to one of

the numerous outpatient facilities in the area. Injuries requiring a greater degree of medical care will

be treated at any one of the hospitals in the area. The operational phase of the Project is not

anticipated to have any notable impact on medical services, especially since a medical care facility

is a main component and purpose of the Project.

B. Mitigative Measures

No mitigative measures are proposed since no significant adverse effects are anticipated.

3.13.5 Solid Waste Disposal

A. PotentialImpacts

Solid waste generated during the construction phase of the Proj ect will be transported by a privately

contracted hauler to any of the approved construction and demolition material landfills.

During the operational phase, solid waste will be transported to an approved landfill and properly

disposed. The Applicant will participate in recycling, as required.

B. MitigativeMeasures

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No mitigative measures are proposed since no significant adverse effects are anticipated.

3.13.6 Water Service

A. Potential Impacts

Water supply requirements for the Project is projected to be 65,000 gpd upon full build out. Water

is currently supplied in the vicinity of the Proj ect Site by the City of Albany. Water demand for the

Project will be supplied by this water system via an extension to the existing water main in the

Washington Avenue Extension right-of-way or from the service currently serving the existing

Teresian House facility. The quantity of water necessary for the Project is insignificant given the

current operating level ofthe City's system of l9,000,000 gpd. The safe yield ofthe existing system

is 24,600,000. The capacity of the City to supply and distribute water will not be affected by the

Project. Recent improvements have been made to the Pine Bush Water Distribution system. These

improvements maintain pressure for users in this area. The increase in usage will have no adverse

impact on the City of Albany water system.

Equipment capacities are adequate to meet the addition demand generated by the proposed Project.

For fire fighting purposes, a sprinkler system will be installed within the Project facility as required

by all laws, rules and regulations. Hydrants will be provided on the Site through a public water

extension that will also meet the above mentioned specifications. Adequate pressure exists in the

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distribution system to supply both the sprinkler system and the exterior Site fire hydrants.

 

During the construction phase, water lines will be installed and the connection to the existing line(s) will be made. This connection is not anticipated to cause any significant adverse effects to the existing water system.

 

B. M;tigative Measures

 

No mitigative measures are proposed since no significant adverse effects are anticipated.

 

3.13.7 SewerService

 

A. Potential Impacts

 

The Project is expected to generate additional sewer usage, which can be adequately handled by the existing municipal sewer along Washington Avenue Extension. The Pine Bush Interceptor Sewer was designed to accommodate additional growth in this area of the City.

 

During the construction phase, sewer lines will be installed and the connection to the existing line(s) will be made. This connection is not anticipated to cause any adverse significant effect to the existing sewer system.

 

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B. Mitigative Measures

 

No mitigative measures are proposed since no significant adverse effects are anticipated.

 

3.13.8 Electric, Natural Gas and Telephone Services A. Potential Impacts

 

Natural gas and electric services are provided to the Site by the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation. These services, as well as telecommunications service, will be extended to the Project during the construction phase of the Project.

 

These utility extensions are not anticipated to cause any adverse significant effect to the existing systems. Adequate service capabilities exist in the Project area.

 

B. Mitigating Measures

 

No mitigating measures are proposed since no significant adverse effects are anticipated.

 

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3.14 Municipal Revenues and Finances A. Potential Impacts

 

The construction phase of the Project will generate jobs for approximately 50 workers in the construction trades for aperiod of 3 years. These jobs will create a significant payroll, part of which will be used for the purchase of goods and services in and around the local area and also the Albany region in general. Approximately 100 operational jobs are expected to be created by the Project. Additional municipal revenues will be derived from site plan review fees and building permit fees.

 

Municipal costs will include those associated with building inspections and the provision of fire and police protection. Costs are expected to be equal to less than revenues produced.

 

From an operations perspective, the Project will introduce additional care facilities the adult/elderly population on lands that are not subject to local property taxation which will result in no change from the existing condition.

 

B. Mitigative Measures

 

No significant negative impacts to municipal finances from the construction or operational phase of the Project are anticipated, therefore, no mitigative measures are proposed.

 

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SECTION 4 ALTERNATIVES

 

This section of the DEIS discusses potential alternatives to the proposed action which potentially meet the objectives and capabilities of the Project Sponsor.

 

The following alternatives were examined to afford reviewing agencies and the public the opportunity to assess the implications of the proposed action in relation to other possible alternatives.

 

None ofthe alternatives exan~ined would achieve either the same or similar objective to that sought by the Applicant. These altematives are examined in detail, however, to afford the City of Albany Planning Board, as Lead Agency, the opportunity to assess the implications of the action in relation to other possible alternatives.

 

4.1 No Action Alternative

 

The effect of the no action alternative being implemented would place additional burdens on the existing health care facilities in the area and diminish the services available to the ever increasing elder population. The benefits to be realized from new job development (construction or operational) would not occur. There would be no eradication of the on-site invasive Pine Bush species, nor replanting with native Pine Bush species. Consequently, such species would continue to propagate, reducing any potential linkage between Crossgates Hill and the Preserve lands to the west.

 

4.2 Alternative Scale

 

A campus of a smaller or larger scale than that proposed, while possible in theory, is not appropriate at this time. The Project is driven by the need for the provision of the growing need of the elder population in this area. As noted in the market study, there is a net need of 250 units providing services and a net need of 370 units without services. The majority of need for units with services is for low income seniors and the majority of need for units without services is for moderate income seniors. Therefore, the Project is appropriately sized to fill a particular segment of the continuum of elderly care which has experienced substantial growth in recent decades, creating an increased demand for senior housing.

 

A Proj ect larger than that proposed is conceivable but would require additional clearing, grading and associated building development impacts. Such additional development would be required, if it were to occur, in the southern area of the Site.

 

This would yield a commensurate increase in environmental impacts, including, but not limited to, loss of vegetation, increases in stormwater runoff and increased traffic.

 

Two larger projects were previously evaluated by the Diocese for this Site.

 

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-- 4.2.1 ~350 Unit Senior Housing Campus

 

A 350 unit development was originally proposed, although not formally, for the Site. This plan entailed the development of the entire 30.6 acres of land owned or controlled by the Diocese. Roadway infrastructure required for this project included construction of five (5) new cul-de-sac roads to service the +350 new units. Such roadways would be dedicated to the City, therefore create an increased burden to the City for maintenance, upkeep and snow removal responsibilities. The cost for lighting the roadway would also be a City expense.

 

Water and sewer demand for 350 units would be greater than that required for the proposed Project.

 

Vehicular trips to and from the Site would also increase.

 

Additional utility infrastructure and demand would be created under this alternative.

 

Implementation of this plan would substantially reduce the potential for an expanded linkage between the Crossgates Hill and the Preserve lands to the west of the Site.

 

4.2.2 +278 Senior Housing Campus

 

The Diocese also considered a revised site plan consisting of+278 units (a 21% reduction) for senior housing. Pursuant to this plan, +8.6 acres of the southern portion of the Site (36%) would be retained and the development concentrated in two buildings and sixteen (16) cottage style houses along the periphery of the new road. Although this plan provides the potential for expanded linkage between Crossgates Hill and the western portion of the Preserve, concern was expressed that a more expanded linkage area be provided.

 

4.3 Alternative Land Uses

 

Permitted uses in the R-4 Zoning District include (1) multi-family dwellings/high-rise (elevator apartments); (2) garden apartments and (3) two-family row houses. The Proj ect includes two of the these permitted uses. Two-family row houses do not meet the goals and objectives or capability of the Project Sponsor to construct and operate on the Project Site. They are incompatible with the ability and goals of the Diocese to provide for the care, medical or otherwise, of the elderly.

 

Construction of two-family row houses would lead a much more intensive development at the Site. The minimum lot size for two-family row houses is 2,000 square feet versus a land area per garden apartment dwelling unit of 2,000 square feet.

 

When considering these requirements and applying them to the Project Site available for development, a more internal development could be constructed.

 

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Water and sewer demand would be increased above that required for the proposed Project. Similarly, sewage disposal would also be greater as compared to the Project.

 

Average weekday vehicle trips would increase substantially. The peak hour estimates would be much higher than estimates for the Proj ect. Furthermore, unlike the Proj ect, these residential units' traffic peak would likely coincide with existing AM and PM peak hour traffic in the area, thus potentially worsening the impacts.

 

A development of two-family row houses will contain numerous additional roads that would be dedicated to the City. Therefore, an additional burden will be placed on the City for maintenance responsibilities and street cleaning of the new road network.

 

Additional utility infrastructure and demand will be created under this alternative.

 

Trash removal would be by the City forces for the new units; whereas the Diocese will be responsible for all trash removal if the Project is undertaken.

 

No new school population would be generated by the Project; whereas the school population would likely substantially grow if residential row houses are developed.

 

4.4 Alternative Site Layouts -

 

Alternative site plan configurations could be considered for the Proj ect. The existing site conditions, including existing wetlands, topography, proximity to the Pine Bush Preserve and access must, however, be considered and tend to limit the available potential site layouts.

 

The following alternative layouts have been considered.

 

4.4.1 Layouts Pertaining to Site Topography

 

During the Site design development phase, the existing Site topography was a significant influence. Natural features in the Pine Bush include dunes. One dune is located within the southerly central portion of the Site. A ~ 0.30 wetland area is located to the east of this dune. The development envelope is constrained to the northern portion of the Site away from such dune and wetland. Moreover, development north of this area is considered preferable to preserve the ability of the site to achieve the goals and objectives of the Implementation Guidelines.

 

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l 4.4.2 Layout Pertaining to Building Sizes

 

Alternative building sizes were evaluated. In theory, increasing the height of the structures may decrease the required development area for the Project. The goals and objectives of the Diocese is the provision of suitable senior housing facilities that has been identified as a recognized need in this area. This includes comprehensive care facilities. In order to meet the identif~ed need, increasing the height of the facilities will not meet the goals and objectives of the Diocese nor would it permit an expanded area for linkage to the south. The residential senior housing needs to be located as far away from the Washington Avenue Extension corridor as reasonably possible due to the significant noise created by existing traffic.

 

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SECTION 5 ADVERSE IMPACTS WHICH CANNOT BE AVOIDED

 

This section of the DEIS identifies any unavoidable impacts which may occur due to construction and operation of the Project.

 

As with any development project, the construction and operation of the proposed Project and its associated design elements will cause changes to the landscape. Project development will result in the loss of existing open space.

 

The construction phase of the Proj ect will result in temporary impacts, including, but not limited to, increased noise levels from the construction equipment, vibrations from the foundations and building construction and visual impacts associated with construction sites and activities. Jncreased construction vehicles on local roads, particularly Washington Avenue Extension, will also result.

 

Local services such as water, sewage, solid waste disposal and police and fire protection will be required. There will be additional demands on the City of Albany Building Department, including, among other things, plan review and inspections of construction.

 

Traffic will be generated; however the existing roadway system with the proposed improvements will serve to maintain and/or improve existing capacities.

 

There will be no significant adverse impacts on air and noise.

 

The Project will require more energy resources.

 

The topography of the Site will be altered due to the cuts and fills required for construction of buildings, paved areas and other improvements. This impact will be small and local in nature.

 

In summary, the adverse impacts which cannot be avoided consist of short-term activities which are local and, for the most part, minor in nature.

 

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SECTION 6 IRREVERSIBLE AND IRRETRIEVABLE COMMITMENT OF RESOURCES

 

The Project will cause the irreversible and irretrievable commitment of land, building materials, energy, labor, economic resources, as described below:

 

Construction and operation of the Project will involve the conversion of +20.7 acres of the development envelope to an integrated senior residential campus to serve the elder population of the Capital Region. The portion of the Site that will be developed for buildings and paved surfaces will be irreversibly committed for the foreseeable future.

 

Construction of the Project will require the irretrievable commitment of materials, supplies, energy and labor involved with construction, operation and maintenance of the structures and the associated facilities.

 

The Project will require ~ 65,000 gallons of water per day.

 

Irretrievable commitment of economic resources will include the cost of construction materials, energy and labor services.

 

As the Project is completed and occupied, energy resources (gas, oil, electric) required for day-today operations will be irretrievably committed. There is an ample supply of such resources in this region.

 

The Project will generate ~ 44 tons of solid waste per month.

 

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SECTION 7 GROWTH INDUCING ASPECTS OF THE PROPOSED ACTION

 

Construction and operation of the Project is designed to f~ll an identif~ed and existing need for the care of the elderly. It is not a use which norrnally would be considered a stimulant for construction of additional housing for elder care or any other facilities.

 

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~~ SECTION 8 EFFECTS OF THE PROPOSED ACTION ON THE

 

USE AND CONSERVATION OF ENERGY

 

Operation ofthe Project will require energy for heating, cooling, air conditioning and transportation. Energy conservation measures will be implemented.

 

All aspects of construction will comply with the NYS Uniform Fire and Building Code, the New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code and all City of Albany regulations.

 

The building will utilize the latest techniques to reduce energy use. Measures which will be included inthe Project plans are: extensive use of insulation materials; controlled use of exterior glass; HVAC equipment equipped with economizer equipment which senses the most economical introduction of fresh air.

 

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