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Spa City sued over rec center

An indoor recreation center in the city of Saratoga Springs is ready to be put out to bid, thanks to the Planning Board's approval of a site plan on Thursday, Dec. 18, but a lawsuit filed days later is challenging the project's legitimacy.

The Planning Board's decision was marked by abstentions from board members Laura Rappaport and Amy Durland. The other five members of the board voted in the affirmative.

Both Durland and Rappaport cited underlying issues with the project's zoning, saying the city should have sent the plans to the zoning board of appeals before it came before the planning board.

My decision is not driven by politics, but by process, said Durand.

Rappaport said ignoring the zoning board could lead to a precedent of rushing through the approval process in the future.

On Monday, Dec. 22, Friends of the South Side Park filed a lawsuit in Saratoga County Court seeking to halt the center's progress.

According to the group's Clifton Park-based attorney, Joseph Berger, the suit cites three problems. It challenges the City Council's recent environmental review, saying that it was "flawed and inaccurate"; argues that the city's zoning regulations were violated; and says that the project is in violation of the city charter since it has not been placed on the six-year capital program.

"We're not saying, 'Don't build it there,' we're saying do it right and follow your own laws," said Berger. "We don't think they have the authority to move forward."

The city's reply papers are due on Jan. 14, and from there it will be up to a judge to decide how and when the case proceeds, said Berger.

Mayor Johnson said the city acted properly when planning the center.

"I do not believe it has merit," he said of the litigation. "I believe in the project and the process that we followed, and I'm confident we will prevailIt's unfortunate because it delays the project."

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