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Habitat flap heads for appeal

A lawsuit over the Clifton Park habitat of the Karner blue butterfly will go to the state Appellate Division.

An appeal has been filed with the state Appellate Division in the dismissal of a 2006 lawsuit filed by Save the Pine Bush, Inc. and 11 individuals who challenged a Clifton Park Planning Board warehouse site plan approval granted that summer.

The project was approved by the board together with a state Environmental Quality Review Act negative declaration -- a determination meaning the planning board found that the building plan was not likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment.

The Sept. 27, 2006, suit challenged the process used by the planning board to grant the approval. The lawsuit had claimed the board violated SEQRA by issuing the negative declaration despite adverse impacts of the project on the endangered Karner blue butterfly and its habitat along Wood Road, including the project site, and by six other causes of action, including not taking a "hard look" at the project's impact as SEQRA requires; failing to consider cumulative impacts of the project with others in the vicinity of Wood Road; conducting a "segmented" review of a broader plan of development by the applicant; and not requiring creation of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

The plaintiffs also alleged that a submitted plan to "manage" the site falls far short of the town's own requirements, as issued after a 1991 generic environmental study of the Wood Road area. The individual plaintiffs included four town of Clifton Park residents and five board members of Save the Pine Bush, a regional environmental protection organization.

On Nov. 3, 2006, acting state Supreme Court Judge Barry Kramer granted motions by the town of Clifton Park and project applicant DCG Development Company to dismiss the case based on their claims that Save the Pine Bush and the citizen plaintiffs all lacked standing to challenge the town's approvals.

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