ALBANY: The Pine Bush has won out over the City of Albany. Judge Thomas J. McNamara ruled on Monday that Save the Pine Bush prevailed in their lawsuit filed over the proposed construction of a hotel in the Pine Bush on Karner Blue Butterfly habitat. Attorney Stephen Downs represented Save the Pine Bush in the case.
The court threw out the zoning change approved by the Common Council in 2005 for this project. The proposed hotel project is now back at square one.
“The environmental studies that were done for this project were completely inadequate. The Common Council needs to reexamine their procedures which allowed this project to be approved without proper review over the strenuous objections of the environmental experts,” said Mr. Downs.
Last year, the City first tried to knock out Save the Pine Bush on the basis of standing, saying that Save the Pine Bush had no right to bring a court case over a proposed development in the Pine Bush. This win by Save the Pine Bush not only protects this valuable Karner Blue habitat, but affirms the right of Save the Pine Bush to sue in court.
In the issue of standing, Judge Stephen Ferradino’s decision stated that members of Save the Pine Bush have “a passion” for the Pine Bush and says, in part “While the injury these petitioners [Save the Pine Bush] allege may seem vague and conclusory to the respondents [the City and the developers] the alleged injuries are real to the petitioners who have a passion about the use and preservation of the Pine Bush. ”
“It is time the City accepted the fact that the City has a responsibility to protect and preserve the unique Pine Bush ecosystem,” said Lynne Jackson, volunteer for Save the Pine Bush. “The City should acquire the proposed hotel site and add that land to the Preserve. How can the City acquire this land? At no cost to the taxpayers, the City can initiate a land trade to trade the hotel site for land at the Harriman Office Campus. This has been done twice before, and would benefit both the Pine Bush and the Harriman Office Campus project.”
Save the Pine Bush is dedicated to preserving the unique Pine Bush ecosystem. The Karner Blue Butterfly is a federally endangered species that makes its home in the Pine Bush. Begun 29 years ago in a blizzard, Save the Pine Bush preserves the Pine Bush through litigation and education. If not for Save the Pine Bush, there would be no Pine Bush left today.
Press Release – February 15, 2007