Developer Jerry Phibbs has not denied bulldozing
a patch of lupine that probably supported a colony of Karner
Blue butterflies on his land in Colonie, just days before the
butterflies were ready to hatch.
At the Town of Colonie Planning Board meeting on May 30, where
the charges were leveled by outraged speakers, Mr. Phibbs made
no statements about the bulldozing. His representative at the
meeting suggested that there is farming activity going on at
the site and that the bulldozing was part of normal farm activity.
Various citizens expressed opposition to the plan, including
a fire-fighter, EMT personnel, environmentalists, and private
citizens. No one spoke in favor of the proposal.
Mr. Phibbs is proposing to build 117 houses on 76 acres of land
in the Pine Bush in the Town of Colonie. His proposal packs
in as many houses as possible on this property, located on Curry
Road. So far, Mr. Phibbs has filled out a one-page "Short Environmental
Assessment Form." For a project of this magnitude located in
the Pine Bush, this is without a doubt the skimpiest environmental
review members of Save the Pine Bush have seen in years.
If Mr. Phibbs had the land bulldozed, and if he gets away with
it, this will again illustrate the ineffectiveness and unfairness
of the enforcement of laws to protect endangered species. Every
year, scientists count and study living butterflies without
harming them. These scientists are required to get a "taking
permit", because some of their activities may harm an individual
butterfly or two. Developers, on the other hand, go in and flatten
the land with earth-moving machines, destroying countless butterflies
in the egg or caterpillar or chrysalis form. The New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has never required
a developer to obtain a taking permit, though developers have
killed millions more butterflies than any scientist or collector.
Whether the lupine patch was destroyed deliberately or accidentally,
the developer should be held responsible and should be required
to pay the fine for destroying the butterflies
The Karner Blue Butterfly is listed on the New York State Endangered
Species list. It is illegal to kill Karner Blues, whatever form
the butterfly make take (egg, caterpillar, chrysalis or butterfly).
It is likely Karner Blues lived on this patch, and the bulldozing
would probably have destroyed most of the butterflies on this
In his narrative, this is the sum total of what Mr. Phibbs has
to say about endangered species and the Pine Bush:
"Based on correspondence with the NYS DEC and the US Fish and
Wildlife Service (see Appendix [for copies of letters]), the
Karner Blue butterfly is known to occur within a mile of the
"As recommended, the site shall be surveyed by a qualified person
to determine if the Karner Blue butterfly or its habitat exists
on the site, and if so, to determine the appropriate mitigation
"No other endangered or threatened wildlife species, rare plant,
animal or natural community occurrences, or other significant
habitats were identified."