ALBANY: The Planning, Economic Development and Land Use
Committee of the Albany Common Council met on October 27
to review the Final Environmental Impact Statement of the
proposed Residence Inn hotel in the Pine Bush on Washington
During the meeting, it became apparent that an essential
letter from the US Fish and Wildlife Service was not included,
as required, in the Final Environmental Impact Statement
(FEIS). Also missing from the record was a letter from Dr.
Kurt Johnson, a lepidopterist (see related article).
Neil Gifford, Conservation Director for the Albany Pine
Bush Preserve Commission, read a prepared statement which
asked the Committee to recommend to the Common Council to
reject the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the hotel.
The hotel developer did not respond to the April 18,
2005 letter from the US Fish and Wildlife Service which concluded
that Karner Blue butterflies are likely to occupy the site.
In the Commission’s strongly worded statement, Mr.
Gifford quoted the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s letter:
“. . . it appears that the analysis of potential impacts
to the Kbb [Karner Blue butterflies] does not address potential
impacts to the known butterfly population within the NYSDEC
management Area Adjacent to the project area.
“ESA [the Endangered Species Act] prohibits the take
of federally listed species without proper authorization.
Take is defined under the ESA, and includes, in part, to ‘harass,
harm, wound, or kill‘ a federally listed species. The
definition of harm has been further defined to include significant
habitat modification or degradation that results in death
or injury to listed species by significantly impairing behavioral
patterns such as breeding, feeding or sheltering.
”To determine whether take of Karner blue butterflies
is likely to occur, the Service first needs to determine
whether Kbb are present at a given site . . . we conclude
that Karner Blue Butterflies are likely to use the proposed
Mr. Gifford stated that only the US Fish and Wildlife Service
can determine whether a site is occupied by Karner blue
butterflies. Not the developer or the City of Albany or the
Commission or the NYS DEC.
Mr. Gifford emphasized that the concerns of the US Fish
and Wildlife Service must be addressed before the FEIS
can be considered complete.
In its letter, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requested
that it be allowed to make a site visit. The developer
never responded to this request. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service specifically asked that the City withhold approval
of this project until the issues raised by the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service are resolved.
Published November/December 2005