At the March 3 City Council meeting, City Attorney Vincent DeLeonardis, reviewed concerns raised by the public regarding the first draft of the Unified Development Ordinances (UDO). He also shared some of the changes being recommended by his team for the next draft.
These are the recommended changes he cited in his presentation:
- The proposal to reduce the minimum lot size for the UR3 district of the city should be dropped.
- The proposed reduction in the required side setbacks between houses should be dropped.
- The proposal to allow “cottage court/Pocket Neighborhoods” should be removed. [JK: The closest thing to this concept would be the notorious Downton Walk on Jumel Place.]
- The proposed list for allowed uses in the greenbelt should be culled. As an example of a use that should be removed he cited RV (Recreation Vehicle) parks.
Mr. DeLeonardis was careful in an email to me to qualify these changes as being “recommended.” I am assuming that the recommendations would be made to the consultants, Camiros, and that no final decision has been made. Still, it is reasonable to assume that as Camiros is under contract to the city, that recommendations made by the city would be accepted.
Let’s Hear It For Saratoga Springs!
Many of the people I have spoken to regarding the UDO cynically dismissed the value of submitting comments. Routinely I heard from them that public comment was a formality and that attempting to affect the outcome of the UDO was pointless.
I find this attitude understandable but very frustrating and fortunately many Saratogians did submit comments. Mayor Kelly, her deputy Lisa Shields, and City Attorney Vincent DeLeonardis spent many hours not only at the four public sessions they ran but at individual meetings with neighbors. I can only report to the readers of this blog that they were sincerely interested in the concerns of the people of our city.
My conversations with the other members of the City Council were similarly marked by an openness to the concerns they were hearing from the public.
I can understand why people feel cynical. The history of the land use boards and the city Planning Staff has not been good. The travesty of Downton Walks is a poster child for the indifference and at times condescension that concerned neighbors had to endure when trying to raise their concerns with these institutions.
Still, times change. The administration of Mayor Kelly is very different from the world we endured when Scott Johnson was Mayor.
This city can rightfully be proud of how we as a community have evolved.