Town tightens leash on motels

Colonie passes new restrictions on the expansion of motels

— After a second public hearing Thursday, July 25, the Colonie Town Board voted unanimously to pass a local law that would regulate the expansion and construction of hotels and motels along Central Avenue.

The new legislation will now make the process of trying to expand or rehabilitate existing Central Avenue hotels and motels a burdensome process, town officials said.

Currently, the Route 5 corridor has 22 hotels and motels along a less than 7-mile strip. Three years ago, the town enacted a moratorium to prohibit any new development or renovations of the facilities, which has now been extended through August until the law is officially put in place.

Developers can still apply to either build new hotels and motels or expand their own, but they will have to endure a “rigorous process” by applying for a special use permit, go before the Building Department and then the Planning Board. Each applicant would have to show the Planning Board why the project is needed.

Town Attorney Mike Magguilli has said the Planning Board will also see, first and foremost, if the expansion or development would affect the single-family residential areas nearby. Magguilli added that he hopes with the new law, commercial and retail businesses will step up and fill in the corridor.

However, residents at both public hearings, held July 11 and 25, said they were still extremely concerned about the existing hotels and motels and what would happen to them. Many expressed issues with the buildings, owners and patrons. Although a law was put in place in 2009 regulating the number of convicted sex offenders staying at each establishment, residents have said there were still several sex offenders that bothered nearby neighborhoods. Hotel and motel visitors also tend to live at the motels, partying during late hours, residents said.

Albany County Legislator Christine Benedict, who lives on Reber Street, attended both public hearings and although she is in support of the law, but she said the town is still “missing the mark.” Benedict said she would like to see the establishments operating as the definition of a motel under the land use law as “overnight accommodations for transient people away from their permanent home of residence.”

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