We went to Albany Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) Meeting on Feb. 27, 2013 to comment on the proposed extension of the 1 Rapp Road, which is at the corner of South Frontage Road and Rapp Road.
The proposal would add a one floor expansion on to the back of 1 Rapp Road, building in the adjoining area between 1 Rapp Road and 5 Rapp Road. The proposal would also add 12 parking spots, and would preserve the historic buildings at 5 Rapp Road.
Save the Pine Bush was initially very concerned about the impacts on 170 Washington Avenue Extension by the proposed expansion of 1 Rapp. 170 Washington, owned by the Daughters of Sarah, is high-quality Albany Pine Bush that is essential to preserve as Karner Blue habitat, and as a connector parcel.
According to the site plan, the proposed expansion is set back from 170 Washington and is only one story, so it’s unlikely to shade out this sensitive ecosystem. Likewise, the parking lot is located along Rapp Road, rather then along the 170 Washington, so it’s unlikely to suffer impacts of gasoline, motor oil, and other contamination from parking lot run-off.
That said, we did emphasize to the BZA that protecting 170 Washington was a priority of Save the Pine Bush, and that while we had “no opposition” to this proposal, the sensitive lands next door must be protected both from development, and from any impact of changes to surrounding parcels.
We did suggest using porous cement parking lot surfacing to reduce surface runoff. We also suggested using rain gardens, a wonderful ecologically sound way to create a buffer between a parking lot, a gas station or any polluted surface and the stormwater. The rain garden is composed of beautiful native plants planted in gravel, with sand underneath and then soil. The effect is to allow water to drip down by gravity. The rushing of the water is slowed down and the progressively more tightly packed particles below filter the water, cleaning it up significantly if not totally.
The DeThomasis brothers who filed for the permit showed interest in learning more about rain gardens as a way to make their developments more respectful to the environment.
Editor’s note: The BZA approved the project as is, with no additional environmental protections.