On Wednesday, July 24, the Guilderland Planning Board gave preliminary
approval to the construction of 70 houses in the largest roadless
area of the Pine Bush. Before giving approval, the Board held
a hearing. Lynne Jackson of Save the Pine Bush spoke at the
hearing, and wrote down her comments in a letter. The Altamont
Enterprise printed her letter on August 1.
To the Editor:
This past Wednesday, I attended a public hearing on the Lone
Pine 7 housing development off Timothy Lane. The 70-house proposed
development will destroy Pine Bush ecosystem in the largest
roadless area of Pine Bush remaining in Guilderland.
Essentially, Stephen Feeney, the chair of the Guilderland Planning
Board, admitted that this area of Guilderland (Fort Hunter)
could not sustain this development because of the traffic. The
developer admitted that the several intersections studied were
rate an F for traffic flow (A intersections
being the best and F intersections being the worst).
As the traffic expert admitted, once an intersection is an F,
it cant get any worse, no matter how many more cars are
added, there are no ratings G-Z.
Mr. Feeney stated that traffic mitigation was not reasonable
in this case, as the only mitigation suggested by the developer
was a turning lane. Mr. Feeney observed that turning lanes cost
$1 million per lane mile, and that this was too expensive for
a 70-house subdivision. Instead, for mitigation, the developer
was required to build some sidewalks and a path.
Regina DuBois, a member of the planning board, did not agree
with the majority of members. She wisely observed, The
only mitigation is not to develop. She said that [Guilderland]
has the responsibility to look at all this area in a comprehensive
way and that its time for the Town to step
up to the plate and look at the future of this place.
I believe that Guilderland has reached what is called in planning
circles as the tipping point. The tipping point
is a point which is gradually reached with little changes in
a neighborhood, but once reached, dramatic changes take place.
The tipping point in Guilderland is the traffic. I have watched
the traffic in Guilderland get gradually worse over the last
30 years. I am shocked at the fact that now, no matter what
time of the day I go to Guilderland, the traffic is always very
bad even when I drive home late at night after public
hearings. I suggest that building another 70 houses in the Pine
Bush in Guilderland will begin to push Guilderland over the
tipping point. If all of the houses currently being proposed
are built, the quality of life in Guilderland will begin to
dramatically decline, because the tipping point will have been
Guilderland does not have the infrastructure to sustain unrestrained
growth which is completely dependent on the automobile for transportation.
Building more roads will cost a fortune, and only bring more
cars, not solve the problem.
Cars are the number one producers of ozone, a hazardous air
pollutant which causes asthma. The capital area has suffered
more ozone warning days this summer than we have since 1996.
The air quality is becoming worse, and, as anyone who has a
loved one with asthma or other respiratory diseases, you know
that if you cant breathe, you cant do anything.
57% if Americans are overweight. According to the Federal Center
for Disease (CDC) Control, 300,000 Americans a year die from
health problems related to obesity (to compare, 400,000 die
from tobacco, 50,000 from car accidents, 40,000 from alcohol
and 4,000 from illegal drugs). Obesity is the second-largest
cause of preventable death in the country. According to the
CDC, one of the major causes of obesity is lack of exercise.
The number of walking trips has declined by 25% in the past
25 years, while the number of automobile trips has increased.
This is because of how we build our communities.
Developments like Lone Pine 7 are totally dependent on the
automobile for transportation to essential services such as
groceries, school, employment, banking, attending plays, visiting
the library, and other important activities of modern life.
No consideration is given for other forms of transportation,
such as walking, bicycling and mass transit. Though this development
will have some sidewalks and a path (which is very good), there
are no essential services within practical or safe walking distance,
requiring that all residents of the development rely on autos
for access to essential services.
I also contend that building houses which are totally dependent
on automobiles for transportation is un-American. You may think
this is a ridiculous idea. However, global events do not happen
in a vacuum they start in our own front yards. Automobile
transportation relies completely on a continuous source of inexpensive
oil for gasoline. The oil markets rely on unstable foreign sources.
The current administration in the White House is considering
a war on Iraq, not because of terrorists (most of the September
11 highjackers were Saudis, and you dont see us attacking
that country), but for its oil. The middle east is a tinderbox,
the best thing we Americans could do for world peace is to find
alternatives to oil, and build communities that do not rely
solely on cars for transportation. The more developments built
in Guilderland that allow for no other transportation systems
than cars, the more dependent Guilderland residents are on these
unstable oil markets.
Of course, the Planning Board should have turned down the Lone
Pine 7 proposal because it is in the largest roadless area in
the Pine Bush, and is part of this beautiful, unique Pine Bush
ecosystem, home to the Karner Blue, and internationally famous.
Guilderland has an obligation to protect this unique and beautiful
place, and building houses does not protect it.
The Planning Board of Guilderland is not obligated to ensure
the developer makes a profit from his speculation on being able
to build houses in the Pine Bush. The Planning Board does not
need to accept all proposals. The Planning Board could easily
have rejected this proposal on the transportation and public
health issues alone.
The Planning Board approved this development 5-1, with Ms.
DuBois heroically voting no. Ms. DuBois is right, its time for
Guilderland to step up to the plate.
Sincerely, Lynne Jackson
Printed in the August 2002 Newsletter