Save the Pine Bush Comments on Proposed Hotel

written by Lynne Jackson

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Questions of Illegal Clearing and
SPDES Permit Violations

The Common Council must consider that this land was illegally cleared, in violation of the SPDES permit (#4-0130-00007/2002, issued on 7/6/94) given to Pyramid Crossgates. This permit applies to Crossgates Mall, the Karner Blue Hill Preserve, and adjacent properties owned in whole or part or under control of Pyramid Crossgates. Special Condition #7c in the permit states that prior to any further physical alterations of this land, the Pyramid Crossgates shall provide proposed development plans and narratives to the Department of Environmental Conservation for prior review and if necessary approval. In the event there is no specific Department Permit or approval required then the Department may still attach conditions to any such proposed project. Such condition shall be binding on Pyramid Crossgates and are limited to those conditions necessary to ensure there are not significant adverse impacts upon the Karner Blue Hill Preserve.

What good are environmental laws that protect endangered species and habit, if municipalities do not enforce them? Pyramid Crossgates, from the day they illegally bulldozed this property in 1998 until today are in violation of their permit. The City of Albany should not allow Pyramid Crossgates to get away with this and should require Pyramid Crossgates to put back the site to its original state, prior to completing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Residence Inn.

We feel that this is a reasonable request. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission proved that a parking lot can be turned into Karner Blue butterfly habitat when a parking lot was ripped up on Apollo Drive, and the Commission planted native Pine Bush species of plants. The butterflies returned to the site.

Because the site of the proposed Residence Inn is adjacent to the largest site of Karner Blue south of the Thruway, restoration of the site would most likely be successful, and Karner Blues would re-inhabit the area.

The Albany Pine Bush is a jewel that the City of Albany should protect and nuture. The New York State legislature has recognized the importance of the Pine Bush when it passed ECL Article 46 to create the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission.

The Federal Government recognizes the importance of the Karner Blue Butterfly when it listed the butterfly as an endangered species in 1992. In September, 2003, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife adopted a Recovery Plan for the Karner Blue.

The Applicant denies that the SPDES permit applies to this land and deny any association with the clearing. This is a factual matter that must be answered.

This is the most important issue the Common Council must address when considering this project. The owners of the land bulldozed it. Then, the developers come back a few years later and said there are no impacts because the land was bulldozed. What good is SEQRA if a developer can bulldoze the land, and then say there is no impact, because the land was bulldozed?

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