Tracie Millis III is the president of the Maple Avenue, Marion Avenue, Maple Dell Neighborhood Association.
As a little background, Mr. Millis family goes back eight generations in our city. Following his career in the U.S. military he worked at the Watervliet Arsenal as a contracting officer before retiring in 1995. He was more recently the executive director of the New York State Military Heritage Institute which is a support group for the Military Museum on Lake Avenue.
At the June 21st Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Mr. Millis spoke in opposition to an application to grant a use variance to allow a dentist office at 34 Marion Avenue which is in a residentially zoned neighborhood.
At the meeting Stephanie Feradino, who represented the owners, spoke from 8:20 to 9:20. Mr. Millis spoke for eight and a half minutes and two neighbors spoke for four minutes each. Keith Kaplan was chairing the ZBA meeting in the absence of Chairman William Moore. Following the first neighbor’s brief comments, Mr. Kaplan admonished the public not to use their time repeating anything said previously. Ms. Feradino is an articulate and talented attorney. Brevity, however, is not her strength. Mr. Kaplan made no attempt to expedite her very long presentation. Given that Ms. Feradino had submitted her arguments to the ZBA in writing, to allow her unrestrained time to make her case and then admonish the neighbors who, in contrast, were the soul of brevity seemed unfair but sadly consistent with the ZBA’s attitude toward the public.
In the course of the ZBA questioning of Ms. Feradino it became painfully obvious that the ZBA was disposed to grant her client’s application. Board members spent considerable time discussing with her how her client might buffer the property from the neighbors regarding lights and noise to the point that they discussed specific plants the applicant might use.
It is hard to believe but no one on that board even acknowledged that given the other commercial development in the area around Maple and Marion Avenues that granting this variance might accelerate the decline of this residential neighborhood. This is simply another example of how low in its priorities defending existing zoning is for this board. Mr. Millis presented a petition representing twenty-eight homeowners from the neighborhood trying to defend their community. For those skeptics, I invite them to watch the video of the meeting which is up on the city’s web site.
Here is Mr. Millis’ statement:
Saratoga Springs Board of Appeals: 20 JUN 2016
This is the THIRD (3rd) time we have appeared in front of this Board of Appeals speaking against a proposal to SPOT ZONE, 34 Marion Avenue, as Commercial.
In the instant case the required application cites addresses that are not correct, fails to prove an “unnecessary hardship”, cites an “OLD” appraised value (1994), and further attempts to confuse the “ORIGINAL” listing price to the appraised value (Then vs Now).
The “Unique Financial Hardship” stated is Not Accurate. The owner has been attempting to sell this property since at LEAST 1983! Whereas he has occasionally rented it – It has always been offered for sale by local realtors.
The “History of Marketing” is not reflective of the facts either. Whereas they only cite the offered price since 2005, we have tracked it further.
The price for this residentially zoned property, that is 0.43 acre, has been offered for sale from $499,500 to the supposedly present (2014) $135,000. For less than ½ acre? For a vacant building lot? Residentially Zoned!
This alleged Hardship is a 100% Self-Created Hardship! We state that undisputed fact EVERY time we appear here to discuss the “Infamous Healy Property!” He is simply requesting too many dollars for a small Residential lot in Saratoga Springs. Are you kidding us?
The zoning does not allow for this proposal. We fought to get that exact zoning for over 30 years in the prior/current Master Plans since 1981. We want to protect our homeownership investments, and obviously there can be NO Hardship claimed by the proponent.
I now present our Original Neighborhood Petitions signed by over twenty eight (28) Single Family Residential home Owners directly impacted by this proposed project.
We are ALL opposed to its approval!
Tracy Millis III
Neighborhood Association President
Further, and I probably should not admit this – I went “off script” and exclaimed to the Board that we have invested Many hours (and years) in the development of the “Master Plan” relative to how the Northern Gateway of Saratoga Springs should NOT resemble South Broadway! For over 40 years Saratoga Springs has stated in their Master Plan that our “Northern Gateway” should not resemble South Broadway with the Honkey-Tonk businesses. Marion Avenue extends from the Arterial to SOUTH of the Triangle Diner! All the properties within that Codified distinction are, wait for it now – Single Family RESIDENTIAL!! Hello! The Triangle Diner is in Greenfield! All of the properties on the West side of Marion Avenue are Zoned as RESIDENTIAL! Changing one, especially one at the end of OUR ZONING border, invites nothing less than catastrophe for the Residential owners that invested in their homes. The bottom line is this – An individual that purchased a RESIDENTIALLY zoned property in 1982, for 40K$, and thereafter offered it at 499K$ for RESIDENTIAL use, cannot thereafter claim A HARDSHIP because nobody bought the property! Hello? $499K for less than 1/2 acre? As Residential? DUH?