Strike two: The village of Ballston Spa’s efforts to keep the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council from operating in the former Ballston Spa National Bank building in the downtown business district were shot down — as they deserved to be — by a state appellate court last week. Let’s hope the latest ruling, which upheld a lower court decision in January, settles the matter once and for all.
The village’s campaign against this nonprofit social services agency was wrongheaded from the start. Clearly the EOC, which provides a wide array of government-support services to the poor (including, among other things, weatherization, Women, Infants and Children nutrition and Head Start preschool) qualified for the variance it was denied in July 2012.
It may not have been a retail operation, as required by the village zoning law for first-floor occupants in the business district, but it satisfied the exemption from the requirement that existed at the time (but was subsequently eliminated as the village endeavored to keep EOC out) because it is a human services provider.
Two courts have now upheld the obvious, and village Mayor John Romano says he anticipates no further appeals. That’s good news — not just for the EOC and its clients (many of whom are located in or near the village and have been spared a difficult commute since it moved from Saratoga Springs last summer), but downtown merchants (who the EOC employees and clients patronize).
No, the EOC isn’t a retail operation in the true sense; but by drawing people downtown, it’s close enough. And considering the difficulty that anyone would encounter trying to convert the one-time tavern and rooming house most recently used for bank offices into a traditional retail space, the village should be satisfied with EOC as an occupant.