COLONIE: County to town: Clean up act

Recent county legislation to remedy deplorable living conditions at a handful of Central Avenue motels is nothing more than finger pointing among governments, say legislators.

Albany County legislators passed a resolution Monday, Aug. 13, urging Colonie to enforce its building codes on a stretch of Central Avenue motels.

The list of motels includes the Blue Bell and Skylane motels, and the Best Value Inn. The motels are used by County Social Services to temporarily house low-income families and post-release sex offenders.

County Legislator Minority Leader Christine Benedict, R-Colonie, uncovered numerous code violations at the motels through town documents she acquired through the Freedom of Information Act.

Town inspectors cited countless violations after a one-day inspection of all of the motels in May. The results of those inspections will lead to a more in-depth walk-through of the properties this week, said Colonie Building Department Director, Michael Rosch. Those inspections were scheduled prior to the county legislation passed last week, he said.

Normally we do inspections in response to complaints. I don't believe there was a complaint by tenants (of the motels). It was more in response to Benedict's charge, Rosch said.

Supervisor Mary Brizzell personally asked for town inspectors to walk through each of the motels and get them cleaned up, he added.

The May citations were to be the force behind legislation Benedict sought to end housing families and sex offenders in the same building, a practice that has since been stopped by social services. However, Benedict revamped the bill to call on legislators to immediately remove families placed by social services from the three motels until the facilities receive a clean bill of health from Colonie code enforcement.

Until that happens the families should be relocated to suitable residences, read the resolution.

However, last-minute amendments by the Legislature's Democratic majority removed provisions to relocate families until code violations are remedied and instead urged Colonie to enforce its own codes, effectively pointing a finger at Colonie's building department.

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