COLONIE: The Town of Colonie Operations Center was the setting for a public meeting on a proposal to construct a RV (recreational vehicle) storage and washing facility. This proposal would place asphalt or building on top of more than 10 acres of Pine Bush on this approximately 40 acre site, called 106 Cordell Road. Nearby residents packed the Planning Board’s meeting to express their displeasure at the proposal. It was standing room only.
The developer, Steven Owen, is proposing to construct 23 buildings to store RVs, boats and cars. The entire site will be surrounded by a fence, and will include a sewage disposal area. The proposed development will slice a sand dune.
Residents attending the hearing pointed out that many of them had invested all of their money to purchase their dream home, some of which cost $200,000 and up. Residents expressed concern about these large RVs driving along the narrow roads with no sidewalks and how this will impact pedestrians and bicyclists.
Lynne Jackson, of Save the Pine Bush, noted that this parcel is an extremely important connector parcel of Pine Bush to the Woodlawn area to the west. Should this parcel be developed, it will be much harder to create a link of Pine Bush ecosystem from Woodlawn to the main part of the Pine Bush Preserve.
Ms Jackson also pointed out that approval of this parcel would be considered “segmentation” under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). Mr. Owen developed several other contiguous parcels of land in this area and no environmental impact statement was written, no consideration given to the Pine Bush ecosystem destroyed, and no mitigation was required. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission was not notified of any of these other proposed developments.
Because no environmental review was conducted, Mr. Owen was not required to preserve any part of the other parcels. Save the Pine Bush believes that this entire 40-acre parcel should be protected. Ms Jackson proposed that either Mr. Owen donate the land for a tax write-off, that the Town of Colonie purchase the land, or that a land trade of equal value should be made between Mr. Owen’s parcel and a parcel of similar value at the Harriman State Office Campus. Ms. Jackson pointed out that two land trades are quite possible, that two have already occurred, one, a 40-acre site on Rapp Road and the other, the SEFCU building.
After listening to everyone who wanted to speak, the Planning Board tabled further discussion of the proposal for the evening. The Planning Board Chair noted that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) asked for more time to determine if it should take lead agency status for SEQRA. The lead agency is the government agency responsible for conducting the hearings and environmental review. Usually, in a planning board case, it would be the town planning board. However, because of the environmental issues involved, DEC may decide it wants to be the lead agency.
The Planning Board meets every Tuesday at the Operations Center on Old Niskayuna Road in Colonie. The next decision the Planning Board needs to issue is the lead agency status. Though the Planning Board will certainly make a decision soon, consideration of this issue is not yet scheduled. To find out when the Planning Board will make its decision, go to the Town of Colonie Planning Board website at: http://www.colonie.com/pedd/agenda.html