Ballston Spa to fight agency’s move to downtown
BALLSTON SPA The village of Ballston Spa is appealing a state Supreme Court decision that the village must allow the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council to move into a downtown building.
The village last month filed a notice seeking to appeal Judge Robert J. Chauvin’s January ruling in favor of the EOC, a nonprofit human services provider. The case will be heard by the five-member Third Department Appellate Division in Albany.
The EOC had sued the village Zoning Board of Appeals in September, after the zoning board ruled it couldn’t legally locate in the Hayner House building on Bath Street.
In its decision, the zoning board concluded the agency doesn’t qualify for a variance as providing “vital human services” under a potential exemption to village zoning rules that allow only retail uses on the ground floors of downtown buildings.
Chauvin ruled that while the exemption clearly allows medical-related offices downtown, the zoning law also mentions “other necessary human services.”
“The court must determine the ambiguity in favor of the landowner,” Chauvin wrote in ruling in the EOC’s favor.
The EOC last month bought the building from the Ballston Spa National Bank, which until last year had administrative offices in the building.
The EOC, which is currently located on New Street in Saratoga Springs, wants to move to the Ballston Spa building to increase its office space.
The EOC’s zoning application was controversial in the village. While people spoke on both sides of the issue at a July 25 zoning board public hearing, Mayor John Romano and some retail business owners opposed it, citing the need for more retail development in the village.
In court papers, EOC argued that it demonstrated at the hearing “that its services clearly fall within the definition of ‘vital human services.’ ”
EOC provides government-funded social benefit programs, including the Women, Infant and Child feeding program, the Head Start preschool program, home weatherization programs, Wheels for Work, and the Latino Community Advocacy Program.
EOC officials want to use the Hayner House for some program services and also for administrative offices.
This isn’t the EOC’s first attempt to move to the village.
In 2010, the EOC took an option on the Manna’s restaurant building on Low Street, though it later withdrew due to business opposition. In that instance, the village code officer at that time initially found that EOC qualified as providing “vital human services,” though he later reversed the position.