Press Release | Troy To Exclude Members Of Indigenous Community From Speaking At Public Meeting


TROY, NY:  Troy City Council About to Exclude Indigenous Leaders from
Speaking at Public Meeting About 240-unit Apartment-Development
Threatening National Register Eligible Mahican Cultural Site
The rules as they are presently written, are not only inconsistent with NYS Open Meetings Law, they also act in general excluding to peoples who maintain close ancestral ties to these lands and who lived on this lands long before the City of Troy was founded.
It is for these reasons that we request the Troy City Council and the Administration to revoke the residency requirement for all future public meetings of public bodies — to comply with the law, and to no longer exclude the original custodians of these lands.”
Ahead of Thursday’s City Council meeting, the Troy community coalition  “Friends of the Mahicantuck” urges Troy City Council and City Council President Carmella Montello to lift restrictions on speaking rules during public meetings.
“Allowing only city residents to speak at a public meeting excludes indigenous communities and their leaders from speaking at this meeting. This is particularly problematic, as the city council will act on a resolution regarding a planned development which will cause the destruction of a National Register eligible site of historical and cultural significance to tribes of the Mahican peoples, including the Schaghticoke First Nations, Lenape and the Munsee Nations.”
Artifacts at a local site in Troy, at 1011 2nd Aave, date back to 1500-3000 BC. Planned development of 240 apartment units in six three-story-buildings puts the site at risk of destruction.
“It seems particularly cynical to insist on these rules, as the City of Troy is negotiating the future of such a critically important site of indigenous culture and history that spans thousands of years”,the Friends of the Mahicantuck explain in a statement.
The “Friends of the Mahicantuck” advocate for the protection of the land, and fight a rezoning request necessary for the development to move forward — something that they say is a “clear case of spot zoning”. The group also advocates for the city to actively work with the developer on finding a better suited alternative site at one of the many abandoned buildings and lots in direct vicinity of the land they seek to protect, advocating for a common sense solution that works for everyone.
The Troy City Council is set to vote on a resolution advancing the development on Thursday, September 10th, but only allows Troy residents to speak. This restriction is inconsistent with New York State Open Meetings Law. The “Friends of the Mahicantuck”, who work with leaders of local indigenous community as well as local residents and community organizations, urge the Council President and the administration of the City of Troy to remove this restriction for the upcoming and all future public meetings held by any public body of the City of Troy.
For more information on the development, the land protection initiative, the upcoming City Council meeting, and the Friends of the Mahicantuck’s advocacy for a “common sense solution”, please refer to our previous press release from September 04 2020.



Dear City Council President Carmella Mantello,

Dear Members of the City Council,
We request that the following statement also be entered into the meetings for the meeting on September 10th.
We are writing you regarding the posted rule that members of the public may only speak upon registering prior to city council meetings, and that only residents of the city of Troy may speak at said meeting.
We are reaching out to you, as we are concerned about this rule for several reasons.
First, we are concerned that this will prevent indigenous leaders from speaking. 
The indigenous community has ties to the land in Lansingburgh, which is on the agenda for consideration in RES 91, from speaking.
This is outrageous as, as Planning Committee Chair Anasha Cummings rightfully pointed out in the meeting on August 27th, the indigenous peoples were “here first”. In fact, the land in question itself contains artifacts dating back to 1500-3000 BC, making this site National Register Eligible.
Second, it will prevent the City Council from hearing critical information provided by fact witnesses and experts regarding certain agenda items.
Third, restricting the opportunity to speak, and assigning different rules for different members of the public, is in direct conflict with the Open Meetings Law
This has been clearly stated in numerous public opinions issued by the New York Department of State Committee of Open Government, including in a communication from February 24, 2006, stating:
“While public bodies have the right to adopt rules to govern their own proceedings [see e.g., Education Law, §1709(1)], the courts have found in a variety of contexts that such rules must be reasonable. For example, although a board of education may “adopt by laws and rules for its government and operations”, in a case in which a board’s rules prohibited the use of tape recorders at its meetings, the Appellate Division found that the rule was unreasonable, stating that the authority to adopt rules “is not unbridled” and that “unreasonable rules will not be sanctioned” [see Mitchell v. Garden City Union Free School District, 113 AD 2d 924, 925 (1985)]. Similarly, if by rule, a public body chose to permit certain citizens to address it for ten minutes while permitting others to address it for three, or not at all, such a rule, in my view, would be unreasonable.
This opinion has been reaffirmed repeatedly in commission opinions, including from February 27, 1997, stating:
“In short, it is my view that any member of the public has an equal opportunity to partake in an open meeting, and that an effort to distinguish among attendees by residence or any other qualifier would be inconsistent with the Open Meetings Law and, therefore, unreasonable. Moreover, as suggested in the opinion addressed to Mr. Fishberg, people other than residents, particularly those who own property or operate businesses in a community, may have a substantial interest in attending and expressing their views at meetings of boards of education and other public bodies. Prohibiting those people from speaking, even though they may have a significant tax burden, while permitting residents to do so, would, in my view, be unjustifiable.
We therefore urge you to revise the rule for this and any further meeting of a City of Troy public body, ensuring that participation rules are consistent with the Open Meetings Law, by ensuring that participation in public meetings is possible for every member of the public.
With sincere greetings,
The Friends Of the Mahicantuck Troy Community Organization
Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011

Press Release | Community Voices Opposition To Planned ReZoning Proposes Win-Win Solution


  • Development threatens last riverfront forest in Troy, NY, which is a critical historical-cultural site; would increase costs for city and school district for provision of essential services by an additional $500,000/year
  • 500 people have signed petitions opposed to the rezoning
  • A 30-page report, expert evidence submitted to city council planning committee for an August 27th Planning Committee meeting, detailed the development’s negative impacts and increased costs to the city
  • City Council will vote on rezoning the parcel, a decision which would move the development ahead at a public hearing on September 10th.
  • Opposition group “Friends of the Mahicantuck” mount public campaign, and offer a common-sense solution



Troy, New York: Broad community opposition is pushing back against a proposed rezoning that is inconsistent with the city’s “Realize Troy” 2018 Comprehensive Plan. This rezoning would facilitate a planned development of 240 apartment units on the city’s last forest along the Hudson river, located in the Lansingburgh neighborhood.

The “Friends of the Mahicantuck” is a community organization that seeks an alternate vision for this site. The group argues that the development would destroy the city’s last waterfront forest and one of the region’s most significant archeological sites of indigenous history and culture. The group also calculated that the development will increase costs for the school district and the city by $500,000/year or more. “This number already includes anticipated revenues. It’s bankruptcy economics”, explains the group in a statement.

The group pushes the Troy City Council to save this ecologically, culturally and historically unique land (with artifacts dating back to 1500-3000 B.C.) and pushes for the creation of a historical and ecological preservation park that would better serve the community — and offers a common sense solution that should work for all involved parties.

Group Proposes Common Sense Solution To Preserve the Land and Create a Community Park

Support in the community is broad and growing: The “Friends of the Mahicantuck” have collected 500 signed petitions in one week, and the coalition now includes a broad cross-section of the city’s residents and electorate as well as local community organizations, and representatives of indigenous peoples with strong ties to this land.

The Friends group has the community’s backing in opposition to the development. But it also proposes an alternative plan. Jessica Bennett, a spokesperson for the group:  “Let’s protect this land, create a historical and natural preserve with trails and community recreational opportunities and educational programs!” The group says it is ready to realize this vision, working with several regional and local organizations to secure funds and create capacities. “We are prepared to work with community organizations to create a protected space with public access, trails and educational opportunities at the land.”

The group doesn’t want the developer to lose out either. “Our goal is to protect this land”, Bennett explains, “but it is also to offer an alternative vision and a solution that can work for everyone.” There are several viable alternative sites that are already connected to city infrastructures, lie vacant and would not require the costly deforestation and leveling of this precious land. The recently closed Price Chopper just one block down the street comes to mind: Why not develop the Price Chopper property down the street?

Group Offers Viable Alternative to Developer, Pointing to Priorities Defined in City Policies

“The Price Chopper site is ideal” It is owned by the same people, there are currently no plans for it, and it would be cheaper and more efficient for the developer as well as the city to develop the same project there. Bennett concludes: “We absolutely would invite, welcome and support the developer in efforts to realize his vision in better ways by focusing on the many neglected and abandoned sites just around the corner.”

Bennett also points out that the site preparation cost at Price Chopper would pale in comparison to what is necessary to make the current proposal viable: “Even if they would have to raise the Price Chopper to better protect it from floods, that would be cheaper than what needs to happen to realize the current development plans at the forest site.” To allow for the development in its currently proposed form, the forest needs to be cut and the land’s rugged topography leveled. Further, significant flood risks are present there as well, “not to mention the protracted and lengthy process of getting approval for developing land, including involved studies and assessments.”

All of that is not a problem at the Price Chopper site, all of that has already been done, and it is identified in the Realize Troy Comprehensive Plan as a Major Reinvestment Area. The vacant Price Chopper site would also make sense, as the group points to statements by Troy’s Planning Commissioner Steven Strichman as well as City Council President Carmella Mantello. Mantello identified in a previous interview with the Times Union as “prime piece of waterfront property”, and Steven Strichman described it as an “unique opportunity” for a development project that can benefit both Lansingburgh and the city. The Comprehensive Plan also speaks clearly to the redevelopment of this site. “This does not only make this alternative site a good idea”, Bennett explains: “It is the stated policy of the city.”

The agreed upon vision of the administration, council and residents, adopted just two years ago is to develop the Price Chopper site and surrounding area. “I am sure a lot of time, effort, meetings, public input and analysis went into pages 69-72 of the Realize Troy plan.” At the same time, Bennett points out that developing the forest would only reduce economic demand for the Price Chopper site.

Bennett explains: “We welcome development, especially development consistent with Realize Troy, which prioritizes and focuses on the many vacant and abandoned buildings and properties across both the Lansingburgh neighborhood and the entire city. The abandonment and vacancy rate across the city is through the roof. Addressing that really helps the city and the local residents. So why go out of your way to destroy this beautiful land, when there are readily available opportunities to do good for the neighborhood right around the corner? I am sure the entire community would applaud him, would he choose to preserve this forest for the community and invest to revive the Price Chopper instead.”

With that, the Friends offer not only opposition, but a real opportunity to allow for all involved parties to get what they want: “Create a historical and nature preserve and park for the community, save the land, help the city to better utilize open spaces, and help the developer bring his project to the ideal site just around the corner in a way that is more cost effective for the city as well as the developer.”

Across the Lansingburgh area, this idea finds broad support that everyone could agree on: “It’s just common sense”, one resident explains. Bennett of the “Friends of the Mahicantuck” explains that everyone appears united in the fight against this development: “What is clear is that everyone agrees: this development location is just not a good idea, and it is not what the city’s policy is. Especially with such an easy solution at hand that just would work out better for everyone.”

Despite Broad Opposition, City Council Plans To Push Development Forward.

In the meantime, the city council appears for now to be determined to move forward with this development,  despite mounting pressure from the public on both parties. The council will hold a public hearing on the rezoning for the planned 240-unit apartment complex development in Lansingburgh on September 10th.

“What the council will vote on is to ask the planning commission to weigh in and evaluate the development and if it is feasible”, Bennett explains. “However, this is just such a waste of time, resources and money for everyone.”

At a previous public hearing on August 27th, a range of environmental, economic and development experts along with local residents, indigenous leaders and representatives of local community organizations weighed in and provided extensive testimony about the negative impacts that would result from this development. The group provided broad and detailed evidence to the City Council Planning Committee, including a 30 page report and the testimonies of ten experts from different fields.

“We detailed how this development will impact the community, showing that it will increase the cost for the city and school district by at least $500,000 a year, and that it is on top of everything an illegal spot zoning. So I really don’t know why we waste the valuable time of the planning commission as well as the developer at all with this. The City Council has all the facts it needs to consider if this development is in the interest of the city and the current residents: it clearly is not.”

Instead, the community group invites the developer and the city to come together, offering a common sense solution that would find everyone’s support: “Develop the Price Chopper instead, and preserve the forest by creating a historical and natural preservation and park for the community!”

For Bennett this solution has only advantages for everyone: “It saves the developer money and a lot of headache with studies and the entire process of rezoning; It helps reconnect the city and develop abandoned property; it creates tax revenue without the increased costs associated with developing the vacant land for the city; and it would create with the park and preserve an unique opportunity for the Lansingburgh community to bring in tourism, create a recreational space and offer educational opportunities for the neighborhood. We are ready! The question remains: Is the developer and is the city?”

The Economic Cost To The City – And All Of Us


The proposed development, and the associated rezoning, are incompatible with the responsibilities and legal requirements that must guide the city council committee and planning commission in their decision — and the requested rezoning can only be denied on economic and legal grounds.

It is the responsibility of the city council to consider a development and a proposed rezoning not only for its legality, but for its impacts on the current residents of the city, the city overall and the interests of the city and its residents.

This development will COST the city money both in the short and long run: Increased public spending for services outweighs the anticipated revenue.

In fact, an increase in tax revenue of approx. $300.000 is outweight by in increase in spending needs for public services etc. of about $800.000.


Some basic math clearly shows that costs substantially outweigh revenue

Anticipated Revenue

Based on comparative data of similar developments in similar locations in Troy we approximate (generously) the anticipated tax revenue for the city with around $300,000.00

We assess the anticipated tax revenue for the school district (similarly generously) with $400.000,00.

(Numbers are based on approximated unit value calculations).


Increase in Cost Spending for Public Schools (TROY SCHOOL DISTRICT):

In the state of New York, an average of annually $22,366 are spent per pupil on the public education system [S4-8]. In Troy this number is closer to $28,000, but we will use the more conservative sate wide average.

A conservative estimate would be 40 new pupils entering the Troy School System — an estimate that is very conservative for 240 apartment units.

This leads to an increased cost spending of $894,640.


Anticipated Revenue Increase for Troy School District …………. Approx. 400,000

Approximate Cost Increase: Public Service — School ………….. Approx. $894,640



This leads to a shortfall of $494,000.00 


Increase in Costs For City of Troy On the Example of Public Safety Alone:

Public Safety: Estimates for cost increases for the Fire and Police Services are hard to estimate. One way to estimate this is the per capita spending for police services. According to the 2020 proposed Budget, a total of $40,329,791 will be expended for safety services [S4-9]. This excludes overtime, extraordinary expenditures and other expenditures not listed in the general budget itemization. The population of Troy lies at 49,826 for 2017.

This results in a per capita spending of (rounded) $800. With 240 units, and an conservatively estimated 1.75 persons living in each unit, this leads to a total increase of cost of: 240x800x1.75 = $336,000.00


Approximate Revenue for City …………………………………….. Approx. $300,000

Approximate Cost Increase: Public Service — Safety ………….. Approx. $336,000


This leads to an conservatively anticipated increase in cost associated with the development of for public safety alone of $36,000/year.

This does not incorporate other increased public service costs, such as road maintenance, etc.

Developer Releases Plan, Council Schedules Hearing

The developer plans a 240 unit apartment complex that will destroy the entire land.

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Where there is now a pristine forest — the last of its kind in the entire City of Troy …

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… they gonna put yet another peak of ugliness — and it won’t even generate any tax revenue because OF COURSE they are going to ask for tax breaks and credits.

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