Massive Empire Zone in Clifton Park’s Wood Road Corridor Set for Review

by William Engleman

In 2005,  Save the Pine Bush spoke out on land use affecting populations and habitats of the endangered Karner blue butterfly in the Town of Clifton Park.   In early January ‘05, less than a month after a building moratorium was enacted in the Town’s light industrial zone, speakers from Save the Pine Bush joined local advocates in objecting to the effects of the harmful “soil disturbance permit” granted the year before along Wood Road in the Town’s northeastern corner.  They asked the Town Board to state its policy on extinction of species and to remove all Karner blue habitats from the Town’s light industrial zone.

A more formal comment period arose at the Town’s public hearing on the (relatively minimal) changes proposed and later adopted for the light industrial zoning code.  SPB speakers Lynne Jackson, John Wolcott, Lucy Clark and teen Anne Sombor all addressed the Town Board.   Again they called for protection of all the Karner blue habitats in the Town, especially the long-documented sites within the industrial zone near Northway Exit 10.   Unfortunately, Lynne Jackson was told to sit down, and only allowed to make her comments about a missing EIS for the disturbance permit at the “public privilege” part of the meeting.  She called on the Town to hire an independent lepidopterist to craft a protection and restoration plan for these critical habitat areas.   This advice was not taken, and the Karner blue habitats in the light industrial zone remain zoned as such.

 Now, the so-called “Empire Zone” site where about 9.5 acres of land were cleared, graded and filled in 2004 is coming back for the town Planning Board’s review of a proposed project of 148,000 square feet of “Flexspace” warehousing — or a 3.5 acre building footprint — plus parking, paving and other site work.   Much of the site (which the Town Supervisor described as unattractive and weedy) is within known dispersal distance of the Karner blue.  A nearly 1 acre building is planned close to or in recent and historic Karner blue habitat (another is near wetlands).  A “revised conceptual review” of this massive plan was requested for the January 10, 2006 Planning Board meeting.

We urge everyone — especially Saratoga County and Clifton Park residents — to communicate your concerns about this publicly-subsidized project adversely impacting Karner blue habitat, adjacent to wetlands and over an aquifer recharge area.   Letters objecting to the project, and requesting that a Site Plan Public Hearing (which is optional) be scheduled and held before any approvals are considered, should be sent to:  

Clifton Park Planning Board /  Mr. Steven Bulger, Chairman  / One Town Hall Plaza  / Clifton Park, NY 12065.  The Planning Board usually meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays each month at 7pm, unless there’s a Monday holiday. This project’s placement on 1/10/06 and on future meeting agendas can be confirmed on the Web at   or by calling the Town Hall at 371-6651 and asking for the Planning Department. 

Printed in the January/February 06 newsletter