ALBANY: In an astounding series of votes, the Albany Common
Council voted to allow two developments in the Pine Bush
to go forward: the proposed Residence Inn Hotel and an office
complex in front of the Daughters of Sarah Nursing Home.
Three Common Council members voted against the proposals
and for the Pine Bush: the Honorables Dominick Calsolaro,
Richard Conti and Shawn Morris. It is clear these votes were
hurriedly taken in the last two meetings in December, before
the newly elected Council members take their seats in January.
Perhaps what is most significant about this entire process
is the position of the Albany Pine Bush Commission regarding
these developments. In a memo to the Albany Common Council
on the Findings Statement for the proposed hotel, the Commission
states: “Specifically, the analysis and conclusions provided
in the Statement of Findings for this project regarding potentially
significant adverse impacts to the State and Federally endangered
Karner blue butterfly appear in error and raise concerns about
the integrity of this project’s environmental review
within SEQRA [State Environmental Quality Review Act] process
in the City of Albany . . . the Commission is concerned that
in adopting the Findings Statement as complete and accurate
the Common Council may be facilitating violations of federal
Endangered Species Law and New York State Environmental Conservation
The Commission memo observes that the land where the hotel
is proposed to be built, was illegally bulldozed in 1998.
The Commission points out that on December 1, 2005, stop
work orders were issued by the City of Albany to the Commission
for clearing work the Commission was performing for habitat
restoration that were believed to be in violation of Article
IV, Chapter 375 of the City Code. The Commission suggests
that the City should address the irreplaceable loss of habitat
that occurred as a result of the clearing of land in 1998.
The Commission lists the many factual errors made by the
applicant in the Findings Statement. But, despite the Commission’s
strong statement, and opposition from citizens and Save the
Pine Bush, the Common Council approved these developments.
Printed in the January/February 06 newsletter