Proposals for Paving the Pine Bush Come Fast and Furiously

Guilderland, Albany consider destroying Full Protection Areas

Guilderland, Feeney and Ford: Town of Guilderland Planning Board officials heard a preliminary proposal to destroy 103 acres of Pine Bush by allowing 30 plush, expensive houses to be built on land owned by Feeney and Ford. This land is adjacent to and just west of the State Preserve. The Albany Pine Bush Management Commission targeted this land as full protection.

Building codes will not allow anything to be constructed on at least half of this land because of the steep ravines and stream beds. The owners have proposed to put as many houses as legally allowed on the remaining land.

This is an extremely important piece of land. It is the last link between the Albany Pine Bush and the Guilderland Pine Bush. Destroying this land will make it extremely difficult to protect Pine Bush to the west.

The Commission has been involved in negotiations to purchase this land. With an approved subdivision plat, the worth of the land would rise dramatically. There is speculation that owners are "doing a Whitney" just like wealthy Mary Lou Whitney did to get her $17 million from the state for her Adirondack land, the owners of the Feeney and Ford property are proposing a development in an attempt to jack up the price the state must pay to protect this valuable parcel.

Albany, Drumlin Fields: The Albany Common Council had a public hearing on a proposal for re-zoning 46 acres of land adjacent to the Rensselaer Lake area from residential to commercial. Located on both sides of Rapp Road, this office complex, to be named Drumlin Fields, will pave enough land for 2000 cars.

Drumlin Fields is a misnomer. A drumlin is a mound of dirt created by glaciers. There is not a single drumlin in all of the Pine Bush. All of the mounds in the Pine Bush (except the landfill, of course), are sand dunes, created by wind action as Lake Albany receded 10,000 years ago.

The Commission attempted to purchase this parcel, but the developer, Ice Age Associates, got there first. This area is also designated as full protection. Located between the Lake Rensselaer area and the landfill, this land is considered a very important link. Though the landfill will never be Pine Bush again, the hope remains that the landfill will be capped over and animals will be able to travel over it from one part of the Pine Bush to another. If Drumlin fields is built, that completely destroys the link from the main Pine Bush to Rensselaer Lake.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) written for Drumlin fields is hands down the worse DEIS prepared in years by Daniel Hershberg. Using information from the original Management Plan for Pine Bush Preservation which was invalidated by the courts, the DEIS tries to make the ridiculous point that there are no Pine Bush species on the land. In addition, the DEIS states that the 2000-acre minimum fire-manageable preserve has been achieved. Using creative calculations and unfounded assumptions, the DEIS states that 2008.43 of fire-manageable Pine Bush are in the Preserve. The Commission puts the number of fire-manageable acres closer to 1700. And, given the dramatic decline in the number of Karner Blue butterflies, the fact that the Commission does not burn enough Pine Bush every year, the Preserve needs to be much bigger than 2000 fire-manageable acres.

Albany, Pine East and 365 Washington Ave. Ext.: These two re-zoning proposals for office complexes simply will not die! The Albany Common Council will have another hearing on Pine East (Charlie Touhey's proposed offices) and 365 Washington Ave. Ext. on Monday, April 20 at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall, Eagle Street, Albany. Save the Pine Bush encourages all people interested in Pine Bush preservation to attend, and speak against these re-zonings.

Printed 3/98



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