Guilderland Planning Board approves Pyramid’s projects 

activists who had assembled

The Enterprise — Michael Koff 

Guilderland Planning Board members avoided walking through the front door of town hall to avoid activists who had assembled there on Wednesday to protest the board’s vote to approve Pyramid’s Rapp Road and Western Avenue projects. Planning board members drove around the back of the building and entered town hall from the rear.

GUILDERLAND — In an eight-and-half-minute meeting on Wednesday, the Guilderland Planning Board unanimously adopted the State Environmental Quality Review Findings Statement for Pyramid’s Rapp Road and Western Avenue projects.

Town Planner Ken Kovalchik will now file the findings statement with the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Notice Bulletin and circulate the statement to involved agencies. 

The next step will be the site plan review for two of three proposals near Crossgates Mall:

— The first site is a 19-acre plot of land at Rapp and Gipp roads where 222 apartments or townhouses are proposed to be built; the DEIS leaves the door open for another 90 apartments on Site 1.

Site 1 will need planning board site-plan and lot-line adjustment/subdivision approval, according to the FEIS — however, “the application is consistent with the criteria and may request a waiver pursuant to §247-8(H) of the Town Code”;

— Site 2 is 16 acres of land located at the intersection of Crossgates Mall Road and Western Avenue for which Pyramid proposes to build a 160,000-square-foot Costco, a membership-only warehouse club, that would offer gasoline service and 700 parking spots

Site 2 will need a zoning board special-use permit, and planning board lot line adjustment/subdivision approval, the FEIS says — however, “the application is consistent with the criteria and may request a waiver pursuant to §247-8(H) of the Town Code.”

Both sites will also need additional state and federal Army Corps of Engineers approvals as well, per the FEIS; and

— Between Site 2 and the Hilton Hotel built by Pyramid in 2019, is the 11.3-acre Site 3. There are no current development plans for land; however, Pyramid did include in its DEIS a zoning-compliant conceptual plan for a Transit Oriented Development District that could include 115,000 square feet of retail, 50,000 square feet for office space, and 48 apartments. 

With the approval of the Environmental Impact Statement last month, Pyramid does not have to complete a State Environmental Quality Review Act application for each new project within the area, as long as development remains within the approved parameters. ​

Crossgates Mall is currently suing the town, attempting to get its tax assessment cut nearly in half as it claims business was hurt by the pandemic shutdown. At the same time, Crossgates is suing six of its tenants, seeking unpaid rent.

At the Aug. 26 meeting, planning board members avoided walking through the front door of Guilderland Town Hall to avoid the protestors who had assembled there. The protesters — some from the advocacy group Save the Pine Bush, and others from the grassroots Guilderland Coalition for Responsible Growth — ended up driving around the back of the building and entering from the rear.

During the July meeting, protesters could be heard outside the building as the planning board determined Pyramid’s Final Environmental Impact Statement to be satisfactory in its “scope, content, and substance,” and unanimously accepted the document as complete.  

As planning board members entered the July meeting, Save the Pine Bush protesters encouraged them with chants of, “Only you can save the Pine Bush.” Upon leaving Town Hall after the vote, board members were escorted by the police and met with jeers of, “Shame on you,” “Disgraceful,” and “Your children and grandchildren will not thank you.”

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