by Lynne Jackson
COLONIE: The Town of Colonie held a public hearing on July 14 for its “Town of Colonie Final Draft Comprehensive Plan.” The Town began the comprehensive planning process in 2003 with a town-wide survey, and had held dozens of public meetings about the plan.
The Town is expected to adopt the plan at its August 11 meeting. There is still time for the public to comment about the plan. A copy of the plan can be downloaded at http://www.colonie.org/pedd/compplan/index.htm.
The Pine Bush is mentioned many times in the plan. In the executive summary, one of the recommendations is to “Conserve natural and open space resources.” Listed under short-term actions, “Identify priority areas for open space conservation and develop a funding mechanism.”
Good news in the plan for the Pine Bush is found in under the heading, “Conserve Natural and Open Space Resources.” The plan states, “The opportunity to do something about the remaining open space does still exist. There are still significant blocks of undeveloped land in the Town, especicially at the western and northern edges including the Pine Bush and the Mohawk River Corridor. It is now a critical time for the community to decide whether and how to conserve some of these remaining lands for this and future generations. Ten years from now, many of the options wil have been foreclosed.”
The plan makes an excellent point when it states that no sewer or water lines should be built in the Kings Road area of the Pine Bush because such infrastructure construction would encourage development in the Pine Bush.
The initial survey for the Comprehensive Plan of the residents of the Town, turned up some extremely interesting results. For instance, 57% of the respondents consider preserving open space is a high priority, and 54% feel it is very important to protect wildlife.
Over the last several months some Colonie citizens and Save the Pine Bush are proposing that Colonie acquire all of it’s remaining unprotected Pine Bush except for a few farms. There are sections in Colonie’s Comprehensive Plan that reflect, or can be used in support of this proposal.
Save the Pine Bush applauds and supports the progressive and public spirited open space recommendation in the Colonie Comprehensive Plan. Furthermore we request that the acquisition portions be applied on a priority basis first to the Pine Bush then to the Mohawk River Corridor. Within Colonie’s Pine Bush , we ask for the following priortiy acquisition schedule:
First, all vacant parcels west of the Village of Colonie bounds and south of Albany Street not under any “Proctection“ designation, and those under ”Partial Protection“ as designated by the Pine Bush Commission should be acquired. Acquiring these parcels by the Town would help prevent more fragmentation, and ease the work of the Commission. The vacant parcels to the west of these up to the County line can create a corridor connecting Schenectady’s Woodlawn Preserve to the Pine Bush Preserve.
Second, Any “Full Protection“ parcel designated by the Pine Bush Commission which is immediately threatened and which The Nature Çonservancy and other entities have difficulty in purchasing.
Funding for acquisiton of local open space may soon be available via New York Senate Bill #3153. This Bill, sponsored by Senator Marcellino, allows for up to a 2% tax of the sale price on Real Property Transfers. This would go to funding parks , nature preserves, general open space and prserving farms, and historic places. The bill mandates a referendum first. If enacted, the bill further mandates the establishment of a citizen Advisory Board of local residents to review and recommend acquisitions. The bill is modeled on one passed for town on the east end of Long Island. There it has since produced $165 million for protecting much of the Long Island Pine Barrens. Similiar arrangements are to be found in Maryland and on Cape Cod. We very strongly urge local support of this bill. Call your local officials to ask that they be ready to apply for this provision when it is passed and call your State Senators to urge them to support it’s passage.
At the hearing on the Comprehensive Plan, Town Supervisor Brizzell appeared very supportive of Pine Bush prservation. She called upon speakers who she knew would speak about the Pine Bush first, and thanked the speakers for thier work on Pine Bush preservation. It ranked as one of the most pleasant public hearings that I have ever attended!
Printed in August/September 2005 Newsletter