CLIFTON PARK —The Planning Board has agreed to hold a public hearing on the second phase of a controversial Wood Road development project.
At the July 10 meeting, the board voted 5-1 to hold the hearing at a date to be determined. The parcel’s owner, DCG Development Company, wants approval for a 16-acre expansion of its Wood Road Light Industrial shovel ready project. The company has already developed 25 acres of the 36.6-acre site under a previous approval.
The Wood Road area between the Northway and Route 9 has been a battleground between environmentalists and developers for two decades.
Both sides of the road are under development with independent warehouse projects. The DCG parcel is the west side of the road, close to the Northway.
The Wood Road area is one of the last in Clifton Park where the once -plentiful Karner blue butterflies are found.
In an early 1990s study of the entire Wood Road area, DCG agreed to protect land that was, at the time, supporting the butterfly, which in on the state’s endangered species list. How much land they are required to protect is part of the dispute and one reason the public hearing was requested.
At the most recent Planning Board meeting, environmentalists from Clifton Park and two from the non-profit Save the Pine Bush requested the board hold another public hearing on the project. The first hearing held in 2006 was prior to DCG submitting a required management plan.
Vice Chairman Joel Koval thought the hearing would set a bad precedent. “This town has a process,” he said. “It doesn’t hold public hearings on site plans. The process is sufficient. We do get to hear your thoughts.”
Board attorney Paul Pelagalli said hearings, though infrequent, have been held on such plans in the past.
Clifton Park environmental activist William Engleman requested the board hold a hearing if only to compare the company’s management plan to the 1991 findings report. He and Lynne Jackson of Save the Pine Bush said DCG’s plan to save a one-acre buffered area on the site for the Karner blue and its blue lupine food source were inadequate.
Planning Board Chairman Rocco “Rocky” Ferraro said holding a public hearing on the application “will satisfy the concerns of some regarding our ability to hear public input.”
Koval maintained his opposition: “This has the potential to bog down this board with every neighbor who has an issue with a project.”
Published in August/September, 2012 Save the Pine Bush Newsletter