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Editorial: A place apart(ment)

Readers of The Spotlight, be they denizens of Bethlehem, Colonie, Schenectady or Saratoga, will have no doubt in past months seen stories about new apartment developments.

They’re a hot item right now, not in small part because a stalled housing market has made them more lucrative to developers than building single-family homes. In Colonie, you have the Loudon House. In Bethlehem, Wemple Corners. In Glenville, a new proposal by the New York Development Group of Clifton Park for luxury apartments.

We’re watching all of these projects and more, and whenever a new apartment development is discussed, there invariably follows an opinion raised during a public hearing, in a letter to the editor or simply at the local coffeehouse, that the development will undoubtedly destroy community character and spirit because apartment dwellers have no stake in their communities.

Sometimes the argument is made with such virulence and animosity you can’t help but gaze out the window and ponder in what decade it was last acceptable to demonize whole classes of Americans.

On the surface, the idea almost makes sense. Renters are generally only tied to their apartments for the duration of a lease, which tend to run for about a year. After that time they’re free to pick up and move. They don’t have to put down roots if they don’t want to.

Reader poll

Do renters make poor neighbors?

  • Yes. 61%
  • No. 39%

62 total votes.

But that assumes renters have no interest in living in a nice place, that like marauding bands of Huns they sweep through the countryside swallowing up quaint village after sleepy town, leaving only despair in their wake.

Many would realize this is a ludicrous fantasy, and that people who live in apartments are no different than the rest of us, with the desire to find happiness, fulfillment and a place in life.

What’s more, people might tend to forget that rental housing can provide a valuable steppingstone to young people who will become active and constructive members of a community. Especially in New York, with its high property taxes, one could hardly blame a young couple or small family from settling down in a rental property for a while before deciding whether a particular community is truly where they want to spend a significant portion of their lives.

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