Editor, The Spotlight:
The Town of Colonie is failing its residents living near crime ridden motels, most of which border directly on single family residential zoning districts.
Many public safety issues abound, as sex offenders, parolees, drug dealers and petty criminals use some of these establishments as a primary place of residence.
Four motels within in a small area of Route 5 had more than 600 police and EMS calls over a period of 15 months. Illegal drug use, substance abuse deaths, prostitution, domestic violence, and other crimes occurred, and this does not include the many offenses committed off-site by people living in the motels. Mr. Irani, the owner of the nearby Sitar restaurant, has publicly stated that his establishment has been broken into many times by motel residents.
Most disturbing is that the solution can be found directly in the Town’s Land Use Law. Colonie need only enforce its own definition of hotel/motel(s) as “… commercial establishments which provide transient overnight accommodations for persons away from their place of residence …” to resolve this matter. The town should implement its current law and not allow people to use the motels as a primary residence.
For almost 6 years now, the Mahan administration has had the opportunity to help residents living near these motels by simply enforcing the above definition. If the administration felt that the definition was inadequate, it has had plenty of time to address the issue by amending existing law.
When all is said and done, counties such as Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer that use Colonie motels for placement purposes would be unable to do so if the town would enforce the lawful definition of hotel/motel. Such enforcement would uphold and protect the intent of single family residential areas bordering these motels, and force counties to find more appropriate housing opportunities for those under their care.
Albany County Legislator Christine Benedict, Colonie