Town has Pyramid’s draft EIS, but residents can’t see it yet 

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff
Pyramid has delivered to the town a draft Environmental Impact Statement of much of the development it wants to do around its Crossgates Mall, including, at the corner of Rapp and Gipp roads.

GUILDERLAND — Pyramid — which plans more development around its Crossgates Mall — has submitted a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, required by the town, to the Guilderland Planning Board, according to the town’s planner Kenneth Kovalchik, but residents can’t see it yet. 

It’s not considered a public document until the planning board has determined that it is complete, with all elements required by the draft scope included, Kovalchik said. 

The planning board has 45 calendar days, through Feb. 7, to review the draft for completeness. If it finds that it is not complete, the board will provide comments to Pyramid, and the company will have 30 days to respond. 

The planning board issued a positive declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act in August 2019 when considering Pyramid’s application for an apartment-and-townhouse project with commercial space on Rapp Road, meaning that the board believed it would have a significant impact on the environment. It required Pyramid to detail the amounts of commercial and residential units it may propose building on lands it owns around Crossgates Mall. 

The draft scope document considers future development on three sites:  

— Site 1: A 19-acre site where Pyramid proposes constructing 222 apartments and townhouses, and 3,900 square feet of commercial space, at the corner of Rapp and Gipp roads. The northern end of this site also includes a “potential future development area,” according to the draft scope. The scope says that there are currently no plans for that area but that “an additional 90 apartment units will be analyzed for purposes of the DEIS”; 

— Site 2: A 15-acre site where the company wants to build a 160,000-square-foot building with fuel pumps. Pyramid has applied to build a Costco on this site. It is for this project that the “ghost neighborhood” largely bought up by Pyramid over the last quarter-century would be demolished. This project calls for demolishing several roads:  Lawton Terrace, Rielton Court, and Tiernan Court, and the houses on them; and 

— Site 3: An 11.3-acre site between Site 2 and Pyramid’s hotel, where the company anticipates proposing 115,000 square feet of retail space and 50,000 square feet of office space.  

The draft statement analyzes effects of the construction of these projects on traffic, the surrounding land uses and neighborhoods, schools and services, surface water and groundwater, endangered or threatened species and their habitats, and important historic resources. 

The grassroots organizations Guilderland Coalition for Responsible Growth and Save the Pine Bush have launched a GoFundMe drive called “Stop Overdevelopment of Rapp Road by Pyramid” to fund hiring their own, independent scientists to evaluate any studies provided by Pyramid in its draft statement. But as of Jan. 10, the group had raised just $2,925 of its $100,000 goal. 

Many of those affected by these projects wrote responses to the draft scope that are posted on the town’s website. 

Then-town board candidate, now councilwoman, Laurel Bohl wrote that Pyramid owns an additional 81 acres in the area and that this “must also be considered in this DEIS, unless Pyramid is proposing to deed that land or the Pine Bush Commission as ‘forever wild.’” 

The Rapp Road Historical Association, speaking for a neighborhood built by African Americans who fled Mississippi during the Great Migration and built homes in the Pine Bush, writes that the apartment complex will generate an additional 325 car trips every day on Rapp Road between Gipp Road and Pine Lane. This is unacceptable, the association writes, and Pyramid should pursue a mitigation strategy that would address this, including closing Rapp Road off at one of several different points, either close to the apartment, or at South Frontage Street. 

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