by Lynne Jackson
ALBANY: The City of Albany is taking two contradictory positions on the proposed hotel in the Pine Bush.
Council Stonewalls Developer: The Honorable Daniel Herring (Ward 13) held a Common Council Planning and Development committee meeting on October 9 to discuss the SDEIS (Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement) written and submitted by the developer. The SDEIS was referred to committee by the Common Council because an important letter from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) was not included and the Council did not want to vote on whether the SDEIS was complete without the letter.
The USFWS letter is significant because it outlines how the developer can design the hotel to avoid “take” of the Karner Blue or how the developer can apply for an incidental “take” permit”. It also outlines the difficulties the USFWS has encountered negotiating with the developer over the proposed hotel.
At the Committee meeting, the developer’s representative, Daniel Hershberg was asked about the USFWS letter. Hershberg’s response was that the letter was not included in the SDEIS and that once the Common Council approved the zoning, then the developer would negotiate with the USFWS about the butterfly.
Mr. Herring would not accept such nonsense. He stated that the letter must be included in the SDEIS and that the public had a right to know how the developer was going to resolve the issue of the Karner Blue, including the type of mitigation the developer and the USFWS negotiate before any approvals are given.
The Committee voted unanimously not to accept the SDEIS as complete until the issue of the Karner Blue is resolved. A victory for the Pine Bush! A big thank you to committee members for their support of the Pine Bush!
City Appeals SPB Win in Hotel Case: In late November, the City of Albany filed an appeal of our win on the Supreme Court level, contradicting the Common Council’s current position on the project as outlined above. The record in the case is 12 volumes, a huge amount of paper costing probably more than $5,000 to make 22 copies for the appeal, not counting attorney and court fees. Save the Pine Bush sued the Common Council on this case. However, the Common Council was never consulted as to whether an appeal should be filed. As a matter of fact, Council members were never told of the appeal!
The City of Albany should save money and not go ahead with the appeal. Let the developers pay for an appeal, not the City taxpayers.