Regal Cinemas at Crossgates Will Shade the Karner Blues

GUILDERLAND: Regal Cinemas at Crossgates Maul has requested to increase the height of one theater from about 24 feet to approximately 70 feet above grade. The theater will become a “True Imax” according to their application.

Save the Pine Bush sued over the approval of the original theaters in the 1990s. Unfortunately, we lost, and the theaters were built in 1997. The theaters are very close to Butterfly Hill, just the width of a narrow road apart. The theaters cast a shadow on Butterfly Hill, which affects the habitat for the Karner Blue and other butterflies, insects, plants and animals. The graphic included here shows the count of Karner Blues over time, and notes when the original theaters were built. From this graph, one could conclude that the theaters have had a detrimental impact on the Karner Blue.

Chart showing decline in KBB after construction of theater
This chart, prepared by the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission and distributed to the Albany City Zoning Committee on November 20, 2003, shows the census of Karner Blue Butterflies at the Crossgates Karner Blue Butterfly Hill. Note when the Crossgates Theater Expansion occurred.[Click to see larger image]

The application to raise the height of one theater is in front of the Guilderland Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). According to the chair of the ZBA, no SEQRA review is required. A hearing on the proposal was begun at the last BZA meeting on December 4. Members of the ZBA observed that they had no comments from the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission and adjourned the hearing until the next meeting.

At that last meeting, Save the Pine Bush members and members of the Guilderland Coalition for Responsible Growth, were told that the next meeting of the ZBA would be in January on the same night as our Save the Pine Bush dinner. However, as of now, no hearing is scheduled.

In the meantime, the Technical Committee of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission submitted comments on the Regal Cinemas proposal. The Technical Committee wrote [or read the entire letter here]:

“In conclusion, the proposed Regal Cinemas remodeling proposal has the potential to result in adverse effects on the environment and the APBPC’s ability to create and manage a viable preserve, as described in ECL Article 46 and the 2017 Management Plan Update for the APBP, and the long term potential viability of the multiple rare and endangered species. As such, these additional impacts and commensurate mitigation measures should be evaluated as an Unlisted Action under SEQRA.”

In addition, the Commission noted that “Both the Kbb [Karner Blue Butterfly] and FE [Frosted Elfin] are protected by NYS ECL [Environmental Conservation Law] Article 11 and 6NYCRR Part 182. As such a NYSDEC Part 182 jurisdictional determination should be requested from NYSDEC to determine if additional permits may be needed for this project, related to threatened and endangered species.”

Once the ZBA hears what, if any permits are required from the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation regarding this proposed height change, this proposal will be on the agenda again. Until then, people may wish to learn more about the proposal or write to the ZBA to let them know how detrimental raising the height of the theaters will be. Details about the proposal can be found here:

Published in Jauary 2020
Save the Pine Bush Dinner Announcement