In August I FOILed the city about a number of issues. One of my requests involved what appeared to be a lack of compliance with the Special Permit issued to Saratoga National that limited them to no more than three large events a year. The response to the FOIL as regards this matter (The FOIL involved other documents which I will cover in the future) was quite remarkable. According to the city attorney, they have no records regarding responsibility for monitoring compliance with the stipulations in the special permit issued to Saratoga National, at least as regards large events.
This prompted me to write the following email to Mayor Yepsen with copies to the council:
Cc: Christian E. Mathiesen; Skip Sciroco; John Franck ; Michele madigan
Date: September 17, 2015
According to the original special permit issued in 1998 to Saratoga National Golf Course, they agreed to limit their “special events” by which was meant, events that exceeded their regular parking to only three a year. It is apparent that based on their promotional materials on their web site and other information that they are routinely violating this commitment. In 2007 when they asked for a substantial expansion to their project they reasserted that they would keep to their original commitment of only three events.
In August I asked Kate Maynard, the city planner, who was responsible for insuring their compliance with their Special use Permit? She did not know and I followed up with an email/FOIL. I received a letter dated September 17 from Vincent DeLeonardis, the city attorney, in response to my FOIL in which he states “Please note we do not have any records regarding who is responsible for monitoring Saratoga National’s special events as defined in the Special Use Permit.”
I find this quite strange. Some weeks prior I called Geof Bourneman who was the previous head of planning. He was, in fact, the head of planning at the time of the original application. Mr. Bourneman told me that the building inspector was responsible for enforcement of compliance with such things as Special Permit agreements. At the time, I approached Mr. Steve Shaw, who is the current building inspector. He told me that he was in fact responsible but that given his available time and the many special use permits and other such documents approved by the Planning Board, it was not possible for him to regularly monitor such things. I believe his description is quite reasonable and I have no criticism of him. I asked what I could do in light of the apparent on-going violation of this stipulation in the Saratoga National Golf Course Special Permit. He told me to send him an email with an inquiry and he would try to look into it. I did so. I have not had a response as of today.
So on the one hand, the previous head of planning and the current building inspector believe that there is someone responsible and yet the formal response from the city is that the “city has no records regarding who is responsible…” I hope you find this as disturbing as I do. I find it particularly problematic that based on the response from the city attorney that there is not only no formal vehicle for enforcing a very important agreement but there does not seem to be any concern about the fact that there is none.
I am not being rhetorical when I ask, what is the purpose of a special permit if there is no document assigning responsibility for enforcement let alone an actual person to do the enforcement.
I would be grateful if you or someone you assign with the task, could address this issue by indicating what actions the city plans to take to correct this problem.
Currently SNGC is permitted to have up to 3,000 people at an event. The new language for a resort currently sets no limits and it appears that SNGC feels free to stretch beyond the limits currently. I always wanted to go to a Stones concert. Maybe I will be able to rent a chair in one of the backyards of the people who live around Lake Lonely and have my dream come true? Hello Lake Lonely!