Hospital Expansion, Redevelopment of Moore Hall - in search of a zoning variance, the hottest ticket in town

Saratoga National Golf Club. The City Center Parking Garage. The redevelopment of Moore Hall, and the expansion at Saratoga Hospital. What each of these proposals has in common is the seeking of a variance of some kind that would allow developers to expand upon what is currently allowed. Whether that translates to an indictment - mostly by developers - of what is currently allowable under law, or preserves – mostly by residents - the to-this-point successful city-in-the-country concept, has been a matter of great debate in recent years. (Note the emergence of Saratoga PAC and the contentious circus regarding the city’s recently updated Comprehensive Plan).

In case you missed it, here are two proposals discussed during the past week which will carry over to the new year.

Saratoga Hospital is seeking a zoning change to construct a 75,000-square-foot medical office building. The development of the proposed three-story building would save the hospital about $750,000 in annual rental costs it currently pays across the city for specialists’ offices, and consolidate the specialists in one building. According to the leadership board of the hospital’s medical group, the expansion would improve the quality of health care (by cutting down on specialists’ travel times) and help in the recruitment of new physicians to the area.

Local residents, however, argue the construction of the building and a parking lot for more than 300 cars would adversely affect the immediate neighborhood.

“My house is located directly across the street from the proposed office building,” local resident Jack Despart told the City Council this week. He purchased his home 15 years ago. “I certainly would not have purchased the property if I know the zoning could so easily be changed.” Others said the expansion would eliminate a buffer which currently exists and make them feel as if they lived on the hospital campus, and allege that granting approval for the PUD (Planned Unit Development) expansion would be akin to spot zoning.

Read more HERE.

Facing community opposition of a proposed 53-unit apartment complex in a former Skidmore College dormitory on Union Avenue, developer Sonny Bonacio announced he was scaling back the project to instead demolish the dorm and build a 28-unit residential building on the property.

Bonacio was seeking a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the 53-unit complex. Zoning allows a maximum of 18 units without a variance. A new site plan is expected to be revealed next month. Read more HERE.

And check this space tomorrow to learn about a historic piece of the city that apparently disappeared overnight, and had no one to bear witness to its passing.