Do you ever walk the Karner Barrens Yellow Trail from the Discovery Center, past the large vernal wetlands and the recently restored area that was a former trailer park? You might soon be joined by the rumble and toxic smoke of school buses, should South Colonie School District build their bus garage next to one of more wild and remote areas on popular Yellow Trail.
On Monday, November 1st, the South Colonie School District asked the Colonie Village Board to hold a public hearing on whether or not the school district should be exempt from Village Zoning restrictions which prohibit such a development in a Residential – Conservation District. Save the Pine Bush (Russell Ziemba, Andy Arthur and Lynne Jackson) attended the public hearing last night regarding whether the Town of Colonie School District should be exempt from the Village of Colonie zoning. In addition, a lot of residents attended and spoke in opposition. The residents had thoughtful and specific comments regarding the proposed immunity from zoning.
Everyone at the hearing except one person spoke in opposition. The one who spoke in favor was Neil Gifford from the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission. He basically said that building this bus garage met the Commission’s requirements for “partial protection.” We disagree.
The attorney for the school board explained the situation the best – he said that the school district needed the immunity because there was no way the school district could get a variance for what they want to build. If the zoning would not allow it to be built, then, maybe it should not be built!
The lawyer for the school district did say that he expected the project to be treated as a Type 1 action.
We saw the site plan last night for the first time. The School District wants to build a bus garage on the edge of the Pine Bush Preserve. On the south side of the property is the former Fox Run Trailer Park (located in Albany), purchased by the City of Albany as mitigation for expanding the landfill in the Pine Bush. Millions (and I do mean millions) of dollars has gone in to restore the trailer park to Pine Bush and the restoration is about complete. The City had to get a take permit because there are Karner Blue butterflies on the former trailer park.