Residents Against Residence (Inn)

Negotiations over Pine Bush development will go through another round

The Albany Common Council voted Monday to delay the vote on a resolution approving the construction of a Residence Inn in the Pine Bush area. The resolution has been bounced back to the Land Use Committee to determine specific mitigation measures the council will require of the developer, Theraldson Development group.

The decision was made after Councilman Dominick Calsolaro (Ward 1) pointed out that the council has the authority as lead agency to require mitigation as a part of a building proposal. The mitigation in this case would either be payments double the value of the property to offset damage to the Pine Bush, or the purchase of six to nine acres of land for permanent preservation.

Calsolaro said that a resolution opposing the project passed by the Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations at their meeting last Wednesday was important in the delay of the vote.

“That had a big play too,” Calsolaro said. “They represent every part of the city, and they unanimously came out against it.”

Calsolaro also pointed to the work of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association specifically.

“They’ve become much more active, and they have younger leadership with [president] Dan Curtis,” he said. “I think committee members are afraid of the influence that the neighborhood associations could have during a reelection campaign.”

In addition to the passing of a similar resolution, the PHNA encouraged residents to contact council members and voice their opposition to the project.

Curtis said that while the mitigation is not an ideal goal, it appears to be the best course of action for the time being to preserve the Pine Bush.

“I personally still am not comfortable with the idea of building the hotel, but ultimately this seems to be the safest bet for the Pine Bush,” Curtis said. “Here’s the opportunity to purchase more land to be forever wild and free from development.”

Calsolaro believes that if the council had voted Monday it would have passed.

“The fact that CANA voted unanimously against the project, coupled with my arguments, I think had an effect on them going beyond just holding the vote, but actually putting it back into committee,” Calsolaro said.

The Land Use Committee has not yet scheduled a meeting to discuss the issue, but Calsolaro feels that it will probably be fast-tracked as the window of opportunity for this proposal narrows.

“I think the patience of the Theraldson group is starting to wear thin,” Calsolaro said. “This is the last year of this council. If this does not pass this year, they have to start all over again from scratch. I’m hoping that we can keep delaying this as long as we can.”

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