Court backs demolition of decrepit 1870s Saratoga Springs house
SARATOGA SPRINGS The state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division upheld a lower court ruling Thursday that a historic property in Saratoga Springs can be demolished.
Demolition of 66 Franklin St. had been approved by the city’s Design Review Commission, but the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation mounted a legal challenge last December and received a temporary injunction against the demolition. In March the state Supreme Court ruled that Joseph Boff, the owner of the circa-1870s home, could demolish the property, which he said is beyond repair.
The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation has been fighting the demolition for more than two years. The Foundation had maintained that the old house, which is a contributing structure to the Franklin Square Historic District, could be renovated.
Following the ruling, foundation leaders released a statement saying they were disappointed by the ruling, but stressed that they had brought the legal challenge to protect the intent and purpose of the city’s Historic Review Ordinance. They believe the city’s Design Review Commission didn’t follow the ordinance when it approved the destruction and that the decision to approve the demolition jeopardizes other historic buildings in Saratoga Springs.
Foundation Executive Director Samantha Bosshart said in a statement: “The Foundation is hopeful that with City of Saratoga Springs’ recent adoption of a Vacant Building Registry, which requires an owner of a vacant building to register their building and meet the New York State Property Maintenance Codes, will not allow owners to neglect the condition of buildings to the point where demolition is considered the only option.”
The Design Review Commission had required Boff to prepare an environmental impact statement on the proposed demolition, stating his reasons for demolishing the building, possible alternatives and the impact that demolition would have.
In the impact statement prepared for Boff by attorney Matthew Mazur of Ianniello, Anderson, Sciocchetti and Reilly of Clifton Park, the cost to reconstruct or “replicate” 66 Franklin St. is listed at more than $2 million.
The impact statement also notes that some city officials have said the building is a dilapidated, unsafe structure that could collapse. Architects who inspected the building for the Preservation Foundation have stated the building can be saved and renovated, however.