Law would make life tough for motels

On heels of sex offender effort, Colonie seeks to discourage hotels entirely from Central Avenue

— The Colonie Town Board wants to hear from the public about the possibility of a new local law that would make it more difficult to renovate or build any hotels or motels along Central Avenue.

A public hearing has been set for Thursday, July 11, at Colonie Town Hall about regulating the expansion of hotels and motels on the busy Route 5 corridor. On the less than seven-mile strip, Town Attorney Mike Magguilli said, there are 22 hotels and motels, but developers continue to apply to either build more or expand current buildings. Magguilli said the law would force developers to have a special use permit to expand or build, and it would be a rigorous and burdensome process.

This isn’t the first time Colonie has tried to overhaul the Central Avenue strip. In 2008, the town sought to address the issue of registered sex offenders flocking to the area’s many hotels and motels. The sex offenders living in these establishments, Magguilli said, cost the county a lot of money.

In 2009, the Town Board approved a law requiring hotel and motel owners who house sex offenders to pay an annual licensing fee. The law also created a points system to limit the number of sex offenders that could live at each establishment. Each sex offender was given a number of points based on the level of his or her offenses. A Level 1 sex offender carried one point; Level 2, two points; and Level 3, three points. Each establishment participating has a limited amount of points allowed.

Creating this new law attracted national attention, Magguilli said, and helped the town to solve the sex offender problem.

“But there’s still problems with these motels,” Magguilli said. “Some of the clientele can be very rowdy, and very burdensome on the police department and EMS.”

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