In an article in the October 29 addition of the Gazette Newspaper Joanne Yepsen repeated the talking points propagated by Saratoga National Golf Course. She told the Gazette Newspaper that the current zoning would allow the 400 acre golf course to be subdivided into two acre lots were the golf course to fail. “I’m an open space person,” she told the newspaper. “It’s very important to me not to have any kind of sprawl at Exit 14.”
Mayor Yepsen has been to enough meetings to know that this is not only an inaccurate characterization of the zoning requirements out there, but that it represents the scare tactics that SNGC has promoted continually. The zoning for that area is highly restrictive. It would preclude simply dividing the land currently used by the golf course into two acre lots. All wetlands, steeply sloped land, and other types of sensitive land not only cannot be built on but must be excluded when calculating how many units can be built. Following the exclusion of all that land, only fifty percent of the land that remains can be built on and the units must be clustered. The process of determining all of this is called a conservation assessment. No assessment has been done yet. Bear in mind that the golf course includes water, wetlands, and some significant slopes. These types of land would be excluded from the calculations even before reducing what is left by fifty percent.
Mayor Yepsen has also successfully avoided addressing other aspects of SNGC’s plans. There is the issue of the intensive commercial activities that the “resort” will bring with its large hotel and proposed retail. In addition there is the history of the players in this who have ruthlessly pushed the bounds of everything they do as noted in previous blogs. In the Gazette article Yepsen cynically exploits the fear of sprawl to divert the discussion from the damages that the proposed resort would inflict on the conservation district. Who would have thought that a Democrat elected as Mayor of our city would play the role of fixer to violate our greenbelt.
The problem we as voters face is that John Safford views the idea of the conservation district as an actual barrier to growth rather than a cherished asset to protect. Based on his statements there is little if anything in the way of development that Saratoga National might seek that he would oppose.