Members of the Schenectady Planning Commission upset because they think the City Council and the mayor are overstepping their bounds by weighing in on liquor store proposals contrary to commission decisions have no reason to be hot and bothered.
Commissioners did their job by following the rules in granting site plan approval for a new business.
And the elected officials are doing what voters put them in office to do, by taking formal action to oppose two proposed liquor stores and looking to regulate the proliferation of liquor stores in other parts of the city.
Factoring in input from neighbors and politicians in the development of business in the city is how the public approval process is supposed to work.
Now let’s hope the state Liquor Authority — which must approve the licenses for new liquor stores in the city — does its job by giving proper weight to the concerns of opponents.
While every city wants business, not all businesses are the right fit for the neighborhoods where they’re proposed.
That’s apparently the case with liquor stores, which despite the owners’ best intentions, often can end up being magnets for criminal activity and hangouts for undesirable elements.
The introduction of certain types of business like liquor stores and bodegas can reverse progress being made to clean up areas and to improve the quality of life for residents.
Being opposed to this type of development in specific areas doesn’t signal to outsiders that a city is hostile to new business or that its government applies its regulations subjectively.
Often, municipal zoning codes and comprehensive plans don’t keep up with current trends in a particular neighborhood, putting planning and zoning commissions at odds with neighbors and their elected representatives.
Anyone who visited the Times Square area of Manhattan in the 1970s and ‘80s remembers the strip clubs, X-rated theaters, drug dealers and street prostitution that dominated the area. But residents and businesses demanded change. They amended zoning laws, offered tax breaks and created other incentives for more desirable businesses to move in.
Today, Times Square is a thriving commercial area and one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
Had city officials at the time adhered strictly to existing codes and not acted on what residents and businesses demanded, nothing would have changed.
So while the Schenectady Planning Commission and the City Council and mayor are at odds, what’s going on now are growing pains in the quest for better neighborhoods and a better city.
That’s an outcome that all can agree upon.