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Save the Pine Bush Sues
Albany Common Council
Over Illegal Office Complex

by Lynne Jackson

Save the Pine Bush filed suit on July 12 in New York State Supreme Court over the City of Albany Common Council's approval of the Drumlin Fields office complex in the Pine Bush.

"The Albany Common Council completely ignored the state-authorized Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission's recommendation for full protection of this site," said Lewis B. Oliver, Jr., attorney for SPB. "The NYS Legislature has charged the Commission with the protection and management of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and with creating a Plan to protect the Preserve. This Plan is the 'fundamental document' defining how the Preserve is to be protected. The Common Council erred as a matter of law by disregarding the Commission's Protection Plan and allowing this site to be developed."

"The Pine Bush, because it is a globally rare ecosystem, is an extremely valuable resource to the City. The City should not allow land speculators to make a fortune by destroying this beautiful, irreplaceable land," said Lynne Jackson, volunteer for Save the Pine Bush.

In the lawsuit, Save the Pine Bush contends that the Albany Common Council violated the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) when it approved the re-zoning of 400 and 495 Rapp Road from residential to commercial to allow the construction of a 359,000 square foot office complex to be known as Drumlin Fields, by Ice Age Associates.

First, the Albany Common Council did not comply with SEQRA because it did not take into consideration the cumulative impacts of this development along with others on the Albany Pine Bush. Next, the Albany Common Council did not comply with SEQRA because it did not take into account how a viable Pine Bush Preserve could be created if this land is destroyed by the construction of an office complex.

In addition, the Albany Common Council based its decision on old, out-dated information provided by the developer. Instead of relying on the independent Pine Bush expert, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, the Common Council based its decision on biased information provided by the developer's hired consultant, EDR Associates.

"It is outrageous that the Common Council should give more weight to reports prepared by a consultant hired by a developer than from a state-authorized and un-biased Commission," said Oliver.

In 1992, the Common Council approved a resolution requesting that all of the contiguous Pine Bush be purchased preserved. It appears that the Common Council is only a fair-weather friend of the Pine Bush. When developers dangle promises of tax dollars, the Common Council's concerns about preserving this beautiful ecosystem go right out the window.

The vote on the approval of Drumlin Fields was extremely close, 9-6. Six members of the Common Council voted for the Pine Bush. Carol Wallace, Coumcil Member for the First Ward, worked very hard against this project. Nicholas Coluccio, in whose ward this proposal is located, asked the Common Council to join him in voting against the proposal. Members of the Common Council who voted for the Pine Bush included Richard Conti, Shawn Morris, Carolyn McLaughlin, and Sarah Curry-Cobb. We hope that the minority environmental members of the Council will continue to their efforts to protect the Pine Bush, and not to give in to developers.

published July/August 1999 Newsletter
Last Updated 7/18/99


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