May 8, 2013
Clifford Van Wagner, Chair
Saratoga Springs Planning Board
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Dear Mr. Van Wagner;
RE: ADVISORY OPINION ON REZONING PETITION – TURF HOTELS
Sustainable Saratoga is a not-for-profit organization that promotes sustainable practices and the protection of natural resources, through education, advocacy and action, for the benefit of current and future generations in the Saratoga Springs area. We are very interested in promoting smart growth principles and protecting the legal process by which land use decisions are made.
We have advocated for the update of the 2001 Comprehensive Plan. We do not necessarily oppose zoning amendments, per se, but we want to be sure, as required by State legislation, that all zoning amendments are compatible with the adopted Comprehensive Plan.
We have serious reservations about whether the proposed rezoning petition submitted by Turf Hotels for 3368 South Broadway is compatible with the current Comprehensive Plan.
We offer the following comments for your consideration:
Figure 2, “The Development Plan”, of the adopted 2001 Comprehensive Plan is a graphic representation of the growth and development policies as set forth in the Comprehensive Plan.
The Development Plan’s clearly designates the subject South Broadway area as “COMM-5” which is “medium density office park commercial”.
Page 27 of the Comprehensive Plan says that “zoning for a particular area must be equal to or less than that stated on the Development Plan map..” This means that the land use activity permitted in the zoning district for an area must be equal to or less in intensity that the broad land activity designated for the same area in the Development Plan.
The proposed rezoning of the subject property to the “Tourist Related Business District” means that any of the land uses listed below could permitted within the district. The TRBD does not JUST permit a hotel.
Corridor Bed & Breakfast
Corridor Rooming House
Car Rental Agency
Convenience Sales (<5,000 gross sq. ft.)
Eating & Drinking Establishment
Real Estate Offices
Most all of the above uses have the potential for greater land use intensity than those of a medium density office park.
Most of the above uses have higher traffic volumes and parking demands than those of a medium density office park.
We believe the evidence is clear that the proposed rezoning is not compatible with the current adopted Comprehensive Plan.
Sustainable Saratoga is not necessarily opposed to re-examining the current zoning or the Comprehensive Plan land use designation for this area of the City; however, we assert that any rezoning must meet the test of being compatible with the Comprehensive Plan. In our view the current zoning proposal does not meet that test.
Rezoning that principally benefits one property owner and is incompatible with the Comprehensive Plan is often viewed as “spot zoning”. Should this proposal be approved, it might serve as a precedent that would encourage other landowners to come forward with zoning proposal incompatible with the Comprehensive Plan.
We think it is absolutely critical that the Planning Board protect the procedures by which land use decisions are made. The public needs to have faith in the credibility and integrity of the process.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this application.