More than 100 concerned residents packed Malta Town Hall to listen in on the town board's downtown rezoning workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 26. Supervisor Paul Sausville took the opportunity to explain and address the proposed changes to the comprehensive master plan he laid out in a Dec. 28 email.
Sausville said he is concerned that downtown Malta is on track to have an urban atmosphere that will take away from the hamlet-like one he and many residents want to preserve. He wants buildings to be restricted to one or two stories, down from the current limit of four to five stories. He also wants to increase building setbacks and increase green space in front of them. In addition, he said he thinks the downtown zoning borders should be shrunk because as it stands now, the area will end up being larger than Saratoga Springs' downtown.
Sausville also voiced concern that if downtown Malta is too large and commercially developed, the town will have to look into paid fire and police services, which would have unknown fiscal impacts.
For me, this all looks very city-like and when I think of cities around here, I think of the fact that they have paid fire and police; but residents have a municipal city on which to recover those costs. In Malta, everyone in town has to share in that cost this isn't the responsibility of just the people in the downtown area, it will be the responsibility of all of us in Malta to pay the cost of those services, said Sausville.
Members of the planning board detailed what is currently planned for downtown, the product of at least five years of planning. Thousands of square feet of apartments, single family residences, retail, commercial and professional office space is planned on dozens of acres. Most plans are still in the stages of securing appropriate documentation and the only one that has seen construction has been a CVS south of Town Hall.