Nonprofit completing controversial move to Ballston Spa
Village appealing decision allowing group downtown
BALLSTON SPA Laser-printed signs taped to glass doors at the former Ballston Spa National Bank building this week say simply “EOC,” followed by a list of phone extensions.
The Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council is completing a controversial move from Saratoga Springs to Ballston Spa, and as of Thursday had its offices primarily at the new site.
The building at 30 Bath St., known historically as the Hayner House, will be the council’s new administrative offices.
The nonprofit social services agency has said it is moving because it needs more space. It provides a variety of government-supported services to the poor, including housing weatherization, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program, community support programs and the Head Start preschool program.
The move into Ballston Spa is against the wishes of village leaders, who continue to fight in court to block the move, on the grounds the agency doesn’t belong in an area zoned for retail use.
“I know they moved forward with the purchase, which was a surprise,” said Mayor John Romano.
He deferred further comment to Village Attorney James Fauci, who did not return a call Thursday.
The council’s executive director, Julie Hoxsie, also did not respond to a request for comment.
The village, with the support of many local business owners, contends the council shouldn’t be on Bath Street because all buildings in the downtown area — including the former bank offices — should be limited to retail services on their first floors. But council officials argued the agency qualifies for an exemption allowed in village zoning law for “vital human services.”
Ballston Spa National Bank supported the council, saying its building — a one-time tavern and rooming house converted into offices — isn’t set up for retail use.
The village Zoning Board of Appeals turned the council’s variance application down last July. However, the council took the matter to court, and won a victory in state Supreme Court. The village is now appealing Judge Robert J. Chauvin’s January ruling to the Appellate Division in Albany.
An appeals court ruling is still months away. Mark Schachner of Glens Falls, the attorney for the council, said the village never attempted to get an order that would have prevented the move while the appeal was pending.
The council bought the building and associated parking lot from the bank in February for $767,000, according to deeds on file with the Saratoga County Clerk’s Office.
This spring, the Village Board amended its zoning law to remove the exemption for vital human services from the downtown retail use requirement.
It isn’t yet known what the council will do with the building it has occupied in recent years on New Street in Saratoga Springs.