Saratoga Springs residents oppose zoning change that would allow new hospital facility

May 16, 2019 07:43 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Saratoga Hospital CEO Angelo Calbone stands outside his office looking at an aerial photo of the hospital from the 1950s and points out how few homes there were nearby.

Calbone said Thursday most of the neighboring homes were built long after the hospital first started treating patients at its facility on Church Street in 1913.

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This is an issue because the city is poised to change the zoning near the hospital to "office medical" from "residential," which would allow it to build an 80,000 square foot medical office building on vacant land on Morgan Street. 

Doctors who specialize in areas such as cardiology and oncology would see patients here.

"We need to grow these practices because we have more and more patients that are coming to us," said Calbone.

But some who live nearby say their neighborhoods should stay residential.

They've organized in opposition to the city changing the zoning, putting up lawn signs and a website to share their views.

"If this can happen here, this can happen anywhere in Saratoga Springs. So if I'm a residential neighbor, I'm going to be alarmed by this change," said Dave Evans, part of Saratoga Concerned Neighbors.

Evans says they're concerned about traffic, noise, and lighting associated with a 3-story office building.

The project would border his backyard in the Birch Run neighborhood.

"We're trying to keep this from being an argument with the hospital because this is a zoning issue. We understand the value of the hospital."

Calbone says the hospital with its local leadership, would be a good neighbor.  

He fears some neighbors fail to realize that if the hospital doesn't build there, someone else will.

"I've been disappointed at their reaction. I think it's been a bit short-sighted," Calbone said.

He says if the city doesn't approve the zoning change, it's sending a message to the hospital to look outside the city for future growth.

"I'm worried that the input of a relative few could alter the trajectory of this organization for many years to come," said Calbone.

Evans said neighbors are prepared to take it to court but hopeful they don't have to.

The City Council will have the final say on whether the zoning change goes forward.


Mark Mulholland

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