Mathiesen Pursues Change In Comp Plan to protect area threatened by hospital

Unfortunately, I doubt Commissioner Mathiesen can even get  a second, but Commissioner Mathiesen continues in his role  representing the “little people.”

Article From The Saratogian

Mathiesen calls for a Comprehensive Plan change

By Jennie Grey, The Saratogian

Posted: 02/17/16, 6:00 PM EST | Updated: 2 hrs ago

SARATOGA SPRINGS >> At the Feb. 16 city council meeting, Public Safety Commissioner Christian Mathiesen set a date for a public hearing that could affect Saratoga Hospital’s plan to construct a medical office building on Morgan Street. He is calling for a reversion of the 2015 Comprehensive Plan map “institutional” designation on Myrtle Street north of Church Street and on Morgan Street to the prior designation of “residential.”

Mathiesen has said he sides with the residents there who are opposed to the project.

“I don’t think this parcel should be used for anything other than residential use,” he said.

Last year, the council adopted a new comprehensive plan, which made provisions for the proposed hospital expansion. Mathiesen now says the plan should be amended to eliminate that expansion.

“At the time, the council had a lot of other matters before it and didn’t give the attention it should have to this parcel,” he said. “Plus, I don’t think neighbors were aware of the hospital’s plan then.”

The hospital’s $14 million expansion project was proposed to help consolidate physicians and patients in one space in close proximity to the hospital, and to provide better patient care and efficiency. Saratoga Hospital has therefore planned to construct a new medical office building on Morgan Street solely for its physician employees and their staffs. The proposed building would be constructed roughly 200 yards north of the hospital’s main location at 211 Church St.

Specialties to be housed in the new building may include oncology, general surgery, bariatric surgery, urology, pulmonology, nephrology, cardiology and general family practice.

For the hospital to construct this Morgan Street building, the city council would need to vote to amend the now-residential zoning and make the 8.5 acres part of the existing Saratoga Hospital planned unit development (PUD) in that area. The city planning board has already returned a favorable advisory opinion on the PUD to the city council.

Since filing its application in August 2015, the hospital has been working cooperatively with area neighbors to address concerns over such issues as building height, lighting, stormwater management and traffic.

The city council has been hearing from the hospital, its development team and the residents. The neighbors have been very clear in stating they don’t want their residential neighborhood rezoned to take in so much business and traffic as they say the hospital offices will create.

Saratoga Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Angelo Calbone said, “Saratoga Hospital has been in this neighborhood for 100 years. So I understand the concern residents have. We are being very sensitive in how we plan to place this medical office building. We are first and foremost a hospital, dedicated to our patients; but next, we want to be a good neighbor.”

Matters became more complicated when Mayor Joanne Yepsen and Accounts Commissioner John Franck recused themselves from any discussion or vote on the hospital PUD, citing a conflict of interest. Yepsen may do work for the Hospital Foundation in future, and Franck does the taxes of two homeowners’ associations near the proposed medical facility site.

When the neighbors sent a petition, that resulted in the council needing a super-majority to vote, which it lacks because of the recusals.

“So if the PUD expansion application is dead in the water for the hospital, I didn’t want the zoning of that Morgan Street property left in limbo,” Mathiesen said. “It’s a beautiful, historic piece of land. I want to change it back to residential.”

He also said he’s suggested to the hospital that it seek an alternative parcel of land to build on, rather than pour more resources into getting the rezoning.

Assistant City Attorney Tony Izzo said a proposed amendment to the Comprehensive Plan required a certain amount of notice before holding a public hearing. The date was set for March 15 at 6:45 p.m.

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