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SARATOGA SPRINGS: City pulls plug on Grid parcel

The City Council voted 3-to-2 to deny a zoning amendment proposed by National Grid to change 28 acres on Brook Road adjacent to Pallette Stone quarry from rural residential to light industrial.

Mayor Valerie Keehn, Commissioner of Finance Matthew McCabe and Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim voted against the zoning change, while Commissioner of Accounts John Franck and Commissioner of Public Works Thomas McTygue voted in favor.

The utility company has been looking for an area to consolidate its operations in the Saratoga area since it left its contaminated Excelsior Avenue location in 1998 so the area could be cleaned up. The company moved to a city-owned parcel on Weibel Avenue that year, under an agreement with the city that it would give to the Department of Public Works its $1.4 million facility when it was supposed to move out in 2004.

Citing a lack of space for consolidation of the growing company's vehicles, equipment and staff, National Grid decided not to move back to Excelsior Avenue that year, and has been leasing the Weibel Avenue location from the city for $4,500 a month. The lease was signed in 1997 and was renewed in 2003. It is set to expire in 2008.

The Excelsior Avenue location also was determined to be contaminated, but has since been cleaned up, according to National Grid's real estate supervisor Bill Dow. Dow said the site is still under orders from the Department of Environmental Conservation and Environmental Protection Agency, but it is the size, not the remediation of the Excelsior parcel that is the reason for National Grid's interest in the plot of land near the quarry.

McCabe said he opposed the zoning change because it bypassed the zoning board and failed to garner a majority vote in the planning board, which had reached a 3-to-3 impasse on the project and could not issue an advisory opinion to the city council.

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