Fire? What Fire? – Pine Bush Better Than Ever
For Immediate Release: July 12, 1999
Save the Pine Bush Sues
Albany Common Council
Over Illegal Office Complex
ALBANY, NY: Save the Pine Bush filed suit today in New York State Supreme Court over the City of Albany Common Council’s approval of the Drumlin Fields office complex in the Pine Bush.
“The Albany Common Council completely ignored the state-authorized Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission’s recommendation for full protection of this site,” said Lewis B. Oliver, Jr., attorney for the environmental organization, Save the Pine Bush. “The New York State Legislature has charged the Commission with the protection and management of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and with creating a Plan to protect the Preserve. This Plan is the ‘fundamental document’ defining how the Preserve is to be protected. The Common Council erred as a matter of law by disregarding the Commission’s Protection Plan and allowing this site to be developed.”
“The Pine Bush, because it is a globally rare ecosystem, is an extremely valuable resource to the City. The City should not allow land speculators to make a fortune by destroying this beautiful, irreplaceable land,” said Lynne Jackson, volunteer secretary for Save the Pine Bush.
In the lawsuit, Save the Pine Bush contends that the Albany Common Council violated the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) when it approved the re-zoning of 400 and 495 Rapp Road from residential to commercial to allow the construction of a 359,000 square foot office complex to be known as Drumlin Fields, by Ice Age Associates.
First, the Albany Common Council did not comply with SEQRA because it did not take into consideration the cumulative impacts of this development along with others on the Albany Pine Bush. Next, the Albany Common Council did not comply with SEQRA because it did not take into account how a viable Pine Bush Preserve could be created it this land was destroyed by the creation of an office complex.
In addition, the Albany Common Council based its decision on old, and out-dated information provided by the developer. Instead of relying on the independent Pine Bush expert, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, the Common Council based its decision on biased information provided by the developer’s hired consultant, EDR Associates. It is interesting to note that EDR Associates prepared the original management Plan for Pine Bush preservation. In that plan, EDR Associates found that the Drumlin Fields site contained pitch-pine-scrub oak ecosystem, but, that once they were hired by Ice Age Associates to prepare a report, EDR Associates no longer found Pine Bush habitat on the site.
“It is outrageous that the Common Council should give more weight to a reports prepared by a consultant hired by a developer than from a state-authorized and un-biased Commission,” said Oliver.
In 1992, the Common Council approved a resolution requesting that all of the contiguous Pine Bush be purchased preserved. “It appears that the Common Council is only a fair-weather friend of the Pine Bush,” said Jackson. “When developers dangle promises of tax dollars, the Common Council’s concerns about prserving this beautiful ecosystem go right out the window.”
Jackson is careful to point out that the vote on the approval of Drumlin Fields was extremely close, 9-6. “Six members of the Common Council voted for the Pine Bush. Carol Wallace, alderwoman for the first ward, worked very hard against this project. Nicholas Coluccio, in whose ward this proposal is located, asked the Common Council to join him in voting against the proposal. Members of the Common Council who voted for the Pine Bush included Richard Conti, Shawn Morris, Carolyn McLaughlin, and Sarah Curry-Cobb. We hope that the minority environmental members of the Council will continue to thier efforts to protect the Pine Bush, and not to give in to developers.”
The Pine Bush is a globally rare ecosystem and is the largest inland pine barrens of its kind in the United States. There would be no Pine Bush today if it were not for the efforts of Save the Pine Bush, a not-for-profit, all volunteer organization dedicated to Pine Bush preservation. Save the Pine Bush has been filing lawsuits against municipalities for their illegal approvals of developments in the Pine Bush for more than 21 years.– – End – –
Last Updated 7/18/99
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