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Residents want motels cleaned up

Talk of new law brings complaints of sex offenders and loud parties

— As the Town of Colonie considers a new law to regulate expansion and construction of hotels and motels along Central Avenue, residents seem more concerned with the ones that are currently standing.

The busy Route 5 corridor is home to 22 hotels and motels in a less than seven-mile strip, and the town plans to implement a new policy that would force developers to secure a special use permit if they want to expand or build. Town Attorney Mike Magguilli said this would be a burdensome process, and the hope is for commercial and retail to step in instead.

The town enacted a moratorium three years ago to prohibit any new development or renovations of motels and hotels, and it is now looking to extend it until August in order to consider the local law.

A Thursday, July 11, public hearing on the law was well attended by residents near Route 5, but rather than comment on the law, most expressed problems about the buildings, the owners and the people that stay there already.

Many residents said the motels are still filled with sex offenders, although there are fewer since the town approved of a sex offender points system in 2009 that regulated the amount of sex offenders staying at each establishment. Others said visitors tend to live at the motels, partying loudly until the late hours.

“They’re not creating a safe living environment for anybody around there,” said resident John McCauley. “(They need to) stop partying, stop living off the people’s taxes and go find a place to live.”

Albany County Legislator Christine Benedict, who lives on Reber Street, called the proposed law “simply smoke and mirrors,” arguing that the motel owners are “slum lords.” She said there have been more than 600 EMS and police emergency phone calls to the Central Avenue strip in the last 14 months.

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