Saratoga Springs Zoning Board of Appeals vote paves way for 'Code Blue' shelter

January 08, 2018 11:15 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - A decision by the Saratoga Springs Zoning Board of appeals dealt a win for advocates in favor of a proposed Code Blue shelter.

“We're happy with the decision, we're happy with the outcome,” said Shelters of Saratoga Executive Director, Michael Finocchi. “We have a lot of work ahead of us.” 

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“Code Blue and Code Blue shelters are an important issue for all communities,” said city resident, Tim Barr. “Not just here in Saratoga.” 

A vote by the Zoning Board of Appeals Monday night paves the way for Shelters of Saratoga to build the Code Blue shelter next to its Walworth Street property.

Finocchi said the matter even more urgent thanks to the freezing cold.

“We've been open for well over 28 days straight because of this cold snap,” he said. “So we've been at 41 beds completely full every night.” 

In October, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled city planners should not have given the ok to build a Code Blue shelter on Walworth Street, which kicked the issue back to the Zoning Board.

At issue during Monday night’s meeting was a building inspector's decision that the proposed shelter fit the standards of a neighborhood rooming house, which the board voted was correct.

Attorney Claudia Bbraymer represents some residents opposed to the plan who have been fighting it in court, which sparked Monday's meeting. 

“It's our position that it should be located somewhere else in the city that's not zoned residential for single family, two family houses,” Braymer said. 

“There's definitely a safety concern,” said Saratoga Springs resident Matthew Dickson. “These are people in crisis. They're coming into, like I said a residential neighborhood with children and a school. But at the same time there's businesses in the area and I think this is going to be detrimental for them.” 

The community remains divided over the issue. 

“You make it seem like the people that require this facility are bad, criminal type people but I don't think they are,” said Nobu Takahashi, who is also a Saratoga Springs resident. “They’re just unfortunately down on their luck.” 

Opponents who have waged a legal fight to prevent the new shelter from being built on Walworth street say they're evaluating their next steps and potential future action.


WNYT Staff

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