Saratoga's affordable housing project challenged

Put up or shut up.

That's what one Saratoga Springs businessman told the Comprehensive Planning Committee about the city's approach to affordable housing.

At the Monday, Sept. 24, meeting of the Comprehensive Plan Committee, about two dozen Saratoga Springs residents spoke against a proposed affordable housing project that would sit between the Price Chopper and the Railroad Run trail off of Route 50.

After hearing an outpouring of opposition to developer Garry Olsen's plan to build 96 townhouse units that would sell for about $150,000 each, fellow area developer Jeff Pfeil bluntly told members of the Comprehensive Plan Committee that when it comes to affordable housing, the city's all talk.

The problem with Saratoga Springs right now is that everybody talks the talk when it comes to affordable housing, but there have been several projects that have come up to create affordable housing, and they have been kicked right out, said Pfeil. "It's kind of pathetic. Everybody wants affordable housing, but they don't want it near them."

Detractors of the project said it wasn't an opposition to affordable housing that caused them to turn out, but the numerous problems that would come with putting such density into the strip of light-industrial land.

They said problems would occur with the water table and that the Railroad Run trail would become too much like a playground. Most said it all came down to one thing: density. With 96 units being proposed, many of the neighbors saw the potential for an additional 400 people along the trail.

"Trying to shoehorn that number of people into such a small area is going to be problematic," said Francis Street resident Joe Petruski.

But Olsen said he would be willing to compromise on the number of units, and therefore the possible increase in density. In a separate interview, he, like Pfeil, said the opposition to the project boiled down to people not wanting affordable housing in their backyards.

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