How does Save the Pine Bush stop developers?
Save the Pine Bush uses the courts to force government
agencies to follow environmental preservation laws. The City
of Albany has been notorious for ignoring the State Environmental
Quality Review Act. We have been very successful in our lawsuits
to block improper approvals of construction projects in the
Save the Pine Bush's Victories and Challenges
- ·The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
(DEC) purchased "Karner Meadows" (also known as Blueberry
Hill) a 190 acre site near Washington Ave. Ext., behind
the Dunes. Save the Pine Bush (SPB) prevented the building
of the proposed Karner Meadows housing development by suing
the City for eight years. At the ceremony to dedicate the
land, Thomas Jorling, DEC Commissioner, thanked Rezsin Adams,
SPB president, "for sustaining your interest for so long
a period of time."
- DEC purchased the 30 acre Anderson site on the northeast
corner of Washington Ave. Ext. and Route 155 with money
from the 1986 Bond Act. Despite having the developer Willard
T. Anderson sue Save the Pine Bush for $15 million, SPB
again was able to prevent the construction of this office
building by suing the City of Albany over its illegal approvals
of the development.
- The 70 acre Pine Valley site was purchased by DEC with
Bond Act monies. Though SPB never sued over this site, had
it not been purchased, it would have been a target of SPB
lawsuits. Undoubtedly it was purchased to avoid SPB litigation.
- Because of Save the Pine Bush's on-going legal action,
the NYS Legislature was compelled to set up the Albany Pine
Bush Management Commission to manage the Pine Bush. This
Commission has hired a manager and is in the process of
finalizing a Pine Bush Management Plan. Controlled burns
to maintain the fire dis-climax community were begun in
the spring of 1991.
- ·Save the Pine Bush court cases have forced the City
of Albany to declare two moratoriums on development in the
Pine Bush, one in 1984, and again in 1987.
- SPB's constant challenges were an important factor in
the Hellman Foundation's decision to sell a centrally located
18.5 acre parcel to the Nature Conservancy.
- Save the Pine Bush has been a pioneer in using the State
Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) to protect the
Pine Bush, an endangered, unique ecosystem. The precedents
that SPB have set using SEQRA have been used by other New
York State environmental groups to protect endangered ecosystems.
Most notably, the Long Island pine barrens environmental
groups have sited SPB wins in their litigation to protect
the Long Island pine barrens.
- The NYS Court of Appeals said in its decision of Save
the Pine Bush v. City of Albany, 70 NY2d 193, 206 (1987),
"The Pine Bush . . . contains the only remaining large pine
barrens on inland sand dunes in the United States. . . .
The record establishes that the Pine Bush has a number of
distinct environmental characteristics worthy of protecting."
- SPB has sued the City of Albany over its zoning changes
for two developments, and won those cases in State Supreme
Court. The City of Albany has appealed this decision, and
the Appellate Division make a unanimous ruling in favor
in of Save the Pine Bush, effectively halting all approvals
of developments in the Pine Bush.
- The first is a 12-acre development on South Frontage Road
by Charlie Touhey. This development would consist of three
office buildings with a total of 125,000 sq. ft. of space
and a 280 car parking lot. This land is important because
it borders Woodlands at Pine Ridge, an undeveloped piece
at the center of the Pine Bush.
- The second is the Karner Office Park, a 20 acre site that
would consist of two office buildings located just south
of Pinehurst. This piece of land is particularly important
because it is part of a land bridge between the Karner Meadows
and Pine Valley sites that the State purchased.
- SPB was successful in its lawsuit with the City of Albany
over the building of the State Employees Federal Credit
Union Building and Computer Park in the Pines. However,
the developers went ahead and constructed these ugly buildings
anyway. To enforce the court order, SPB would need to bring
another suit against the City demanding these buildings
be torn down. A precedent has been set for this type of
action. The only thing stopping SPB from taking action is
lack of funds for a lawsuit.
- Currently, SPB is in litigation over the approval of the
landfill. Two issues of the most importance are 1) that
the City of Albany must ensure the preservation of a 2,000
acre minimum acreage for the Pine Bush before they can operate
their landfill and 2) that if a scientist studying the Karner
Blue must obtain a "taking permit" from DEC before catching
butterflies (and possibly injuring or killing them), then
developers who go out and destroy butterflies with bulldozers
must also obtain "taking permits."
- The Administrative Law Judge Francis Serbant who adjudicated
the hearing ruled in favor of SPB. Commissioner Jorling
overruled the Judge and allowed the landfill to be built.
- Several developments on key Pine Bush land are in the
process of being approved. These include Lone Pine VII,
Rao, Serafini, and Lupe developments along the Hungerkill
in Guilderland. In Albany, proposed office developments
include the 80-acre Woodlands at Pine Ridge and the 10-acre
Lew Swire development located on parcels that are essential
for Pine Bush preservation. Developments have also been
proposed for the Rapp Road area.
Save the Pine Bush Goals for Preservation
SPB's goal is to have enough land purchased for
preserve to ensure that the Pine Bush can survive. To achieve
this goal, SPB has these objectives:
- Ensure the purchase of Pine Bush located in-between the
current preserve parcels. It is essential that all Pine
Bush be connected.
- Ensure the purchase of the entire Hungerkill Valley area
in Guilderland for preserve.
- Scientists have estimated that a minimum of 2000 acres
of Pine Bush must be set aside for preserve in order for
the Pine Bush to survive. Because the Pine Bush is a fire
disclimax community (i.e., it must burn to survive), this
estimated minimum acreage must be able to be managed (burned).
However, because the Pine Bush is surrounded by developments,
it is essential that a 50 ft. buffer surround the preserve.
SPB is working to ensure that the minimum acreage is set
aside, plus the buffer needed in order for the preserve
to be adequately managed.
- The map on the on the previous page shows the land that
has been purchased for preserve (in dark grey) and the land
SPB feels must be purchased (in light grey). SPB has come
a long way, but the fight to save the Pine Bush is not over
yet. SPB will not stop until the Pine Bush is saved.
What is the goal of Save the Pine Bush?
The goal of Save the Pine Bush is to have the
State of New York purchase the remaining Pine Bush for preservation
of this unique ecosystem. Because of its location in the middle
of a large population center, the Pine Bush would become easily
accessible to many people for use as open space and park land.
Albany is unique among cities. No other city in the United States
can boast of having a unique ecosystem such as the Pine Bush
within their borders. The Pine Bush should be a resource for
all citizens to enjoy.
How can I help to save the Pine Bush?
Volunteer to help raise money for Save the Pine
Bush to continue the fight for the preservation of this beautiful
area. Your donations are also gratefully accepted. Please send
donations to Save the Pine Bush, Social Justice Center, 33 Central
Avenue, Albany, New York, 12210.
|This page last modified
January 12, 2008
| Contact Save the Pine Bush at