ALBANY: NYS Supreme Court Judge Thomas J. McNamara handed a
win to Save the Pine Bush over the proposed Residence Inn
hotel development in the Pine Bush adjacent to the Karner
Blue Butterfly Hill.
Judge McNamara found the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
for the proposed hotel was deficient because the EIS failed
to evaluate the impact of the proposed hotel may have on any
of the rare plant and animal species known to be present in
the Albany Pine Bush particularly those specifically identified
by the NYSDEC and Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission.
This win means that the zoning change given by the Common
Council to the developer is null and void. The land remains
zoned residential. Now, if the developer wants to pursue the
hotel project, the developer must ask again to have the land
re-zoned to C-2, Highway Commercial. The developer for this
proposed hotel is Theraldson, the largest hotel corporation
in the US.
The site of this proposed hotel is located completely adjacent
to “Butterfly Hill” owned by Crossgates Maul. Butterfly
Hill is a very important site occupied by Karner Blue butterflies.
It is Save the Pine Bush’s position that should the developer
wish to pursue this proposed hotel, that the developer will
need to begin the entire process over, from square one. The
State Environmental Quality Review Act process should be carefully
followed. New information obtained from the US Fish and Wildlife
Service indicates that a large portion of this site is occupied
by Karner Blue Butterflies and that constructing the hotel
could involve a “take” of Karner Blues. A “take” is
defined in part to “harass, harm, wound, or kill” a
Should the developer come back with a proposal, the Common
Council will need to begin by holding a scoping session to
determine the topics the developer needs to include in the
EIS. Then developer will need to write a new EIS after which
extensive public hearings will be held.
The Common Council of the City of Albany will need to decide
how important it is to protect endangered species that live
within the boundaries of the City.