Organizers who want to build a free boarding house for families of sick children may have found a new location, after neighbors objected to it in the GE Realty Plot.
Organizers of Jack’s Place, named for the late son of Schenectady Assistant Police Chief John Falvo Jr., are now considering a large residential house off Rosa Road.
The house, which is on a double lot, is within walking distance of Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital.
It’s also not in the historic Realty Plot. There, property deeds ban any uses other than professional offices and residences. City officials questioned whether those deed restrictions, dating from a century ago, would hold up in court against the city’s zoning code, but the City Council decided not to fight the issue.
Now the council must vote on whether to allow Jack’s Place in a typical residential neighborhood.
The organizers aren’t announcing the location until they finish negotiating the sale with the current owners.
Zoning Officer Steve Strichman asked the council Monday to allow medical hospitality houses within 150 feet of overnight medical facilities, a zoning change that Jack’s Place needs.
“It is not a slam dunk that they could go anywhere,” he said. “They would still have to go before the Planning Commission and justify why they don’t do any harm.”
The proposed zoning change would not allow such houses in historic districts. That would avoid a fight with the GE Realty Plot neighborhood association, Strichman said.
“We felt there were a lot of issues regarding lawsuits, deed restrictions. It would open up a can of worms once you got in there,” he said.
Last summer, the council voted against a similar zoning change for medical hospitality houses because it included the historic districts. Some residents of the GE Realty Plot opposed the change, while one supportive resident offered to sell his house to the organizers at a price well under market value so that it could become Jack’s Place.
The new proposal, with an exemption for historic districts, seemed to get more council support. Council members appeared ready to approve the idea, asking for just one change. They wanted to add the state’s definition of a medical facility, to prevent the rule from being used to justify hospitality centers near veterinary clinics and medical offices.
Strichman said the 150-foot limit would prevent a proliferation of such houses throughout the city.
“Within 150 feet of a facility is pretty limiting,” he said, calculating that just five streets in the city would qualify.
The proposed boarding house is named after Falvo’s son Jack, who died in 2005 in a Jet Ski accident. He was 21.
He broke his neck after his Jet Ski hit another’s boat’s wake. If he had lived, he would have likely spent many months recovering at Sunnyview. A cousin, who works at Sunnyview, suggested that the family honor Jack’s memory with a Ronald McDonald House-like program for families who live far from Sunnyview. They often spend months here supporting their loved ones through grueling rehabilitation after serious injuries.