MALTA — Doctors for a local engineer are backing his claim that he developed an uncommon and potentially deadly disease while working at GlobalFoundries’ Malta facility. [Read more…]
The Village of Round Lake has threatened a lawsuit against the Town of Clifton Park if zoning for The Mill, a popular restaurant and bar is allowed to expand their parking lot. [Read more…]
BALLSTON SPA — Ballston Spa National Bank is being sued by local business owner Jay Curtis for “allegedly permitting his brother to improperly spend millions of dollars from [Read more…]
MALTA- A wrongful death suit was filed against Globalfoundries, Saratoga County and a general contractor Friday in state Supreme Court, the Albany Times-Union reports.
BALLSTON -A zoning change by the Town of Ballston last September has resulted in a lawsuit filed last week by Couch White, the law firm representing asphalt mixing company, Dolomite Products. [Read more…]
BY LINDSAY PANZICA
The Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council (EOC) has filed a lawsuit against the Village of Ballston Spa. The lawsuit is in relation to a decision by the Ballston Spa Zoning Board of Appeals in which they denied the EOC’s request to purchase reality in the Village.
The whole process began about a year and a half ago when the EOC first tried to purchase a property at 17 Lowes St, formerly occupied by Ballston Spa National Bank (BSNB).
The EOC later decided not to purchase the property, and has more recently been looking to obtain the Hayner House located at 31-39 Bath St, a property also owned by BSNB.
The Village Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted against the EOC’s request to purchase the building back in July. At that time, the ZBA determined that the EOC did not meet the standards as a program that provides “vital human services.”
As a result of this decision, at the end of August the EOC filed an Article 78 lawsuit through the State Supreme Court.
The EOC is claiming that the Village’s decision to deny them the Hayner House property is due to prejudice. They are stating that the decision was based on the idea that the Village simply does not want EOC’s customers in the downtown Ballston Spa area.
The true reason that the EOC was turned down has nothing to do with prejudice, but rather about a business development plan that had already been previously set for the Downtown Village.
According to that plan, the first floors of any building located in downtown Ballston Spa have to have retail.
The EOC is a non-profit government community action agency. They provide programs such as Women, Infant and Child (WIC), Wheels for Work and Head Start.
Each of these government funded programs is designed to assist low-income individuals.
Therefore, the services offered by the EOC to not qualify them as a retail business needed to obtain property in downtown Ballston Spa.
The lack of income that EOC would bring to the community is a concern for many business owners in the area.
Kevin Borowsky who owns The Whistling Kettle with his wife Meaghan says that one of his main concerns has to do with the EOC’s non-profit status.
“Having invested a lot of money into the Village we want to see the business district in tact and to keep to the code that they adopted to keep retail businesses in walking distance of that central business district,” Borowsky said.
Since the EOC is non-profit, not only would they not be bringing any retail to the business district, but they are tax exempt as well.
Therefore, the Village would be losing income generated from the tax that would normally be collected by a retail business.
According to Borowsky one of his concerns for wanting to see a retail business in place instead of the EOC is the revenue he feels the town needs to maintain the Village.
“When you walk around you can see areas that need repairs and have not been kept up, so to reducing revenues isn’t going to help the long term pictures as far as finding parking and improving the downtown business district,” Borowsky said.
BSNB VP/Marketing Director Susan M. Slovic released the following statement on behalf of BSNB regarding their opinion on the sale of the property to EOC.
“BSNB has entered into a contract with Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council, Inc. (EOC) for the purchase of the Hayner House building on Bath Street in the Village of Ballston Spa.
Since placing the property for sale in 2011, our goal has and continues to be to sell the property to a buyer that has the resources necessary to properly maintain and occupy the building while adding to the vibrancy of the Village.
With a proposed staff of 40 full time equivalents, we believe the EOC has this capability and that they will be a partner in enhancing the health and vitality of this strong community.”
While the BSNB feels that the EOC would bring vitality to the community through the jobs they will be bringing, the business district would still rather see a retail business that would not only bring in jobs, but additional income as well.
“We see an increase in business due to other businesses located here,” Borowsky said. “We get their customers and they get out customers so everyone is helping each other out, and that’s what I’d like to continue to see is businesses that can complement each other.”
BY GREG HITCHCOCK
BALLSTON – The Ballston Town Council decided to abolish the position of bookkeeper in a 3 – 2 vote Tuesday Dec. 6, thereby permanently defunding the position, an action the town supervisor described as retaliatory.
The bookkeeper acts as the supervisor’s executive assistant and provides a means of checks and balances in managing town finances, according to Supervisor Patti Southworth, recently elected as an Independent to a second term. She called the vote politically motivated by Republicans who serve on the board.
“They are trying to set me up to fail and do a disservice to the town,” Southworth said.
Councilman Jeremy Knight, a registered Republican, and the only other member to vote against the measure called the action irresponsible.
“I am ashamed to be a Republican in the town of Ballston,” he said.
This measure stemmed from a series of events introduced by Councilman-elect William Goslin and former bookkeeper Joanne Bouchard.
According to Goslin, on Tuesday Nov. 15, he arrived early to town hall after requesting budget information from then-bookkeeper Bouchard and under the blessings of the town board. The next day Goslin found out the supervisor fired her.
“I have a responsibility to help manage town affairs. It’s very important to get a head start,” Goslin said.
He said he could have easily FOILed the town for the information, under the Freedom of Information Law, and paid the required fee as he always had done, but since he was then an elected member of the town council, he felt he needed the information more expeditiously, receiving authority from the town board.
Rather than printing hundreds of pages, Bouchard offered to use a flash drive for Goslin’s use.
“She was just trying to be helpful,” Goslin said.
Councilwoman Mary Beth Hynes said the supervisor may not have the authority to hire and fire at will.
“It is the town board’s responsibility to hire and fire town employees. It needs to be done by town resolution,” Hynes said. “And even if the supervisor has the power she didn’t fire [Bouchard] according to personnel policy.”
Hynes said a verbal, a written, and then a final warning before firing an employee is customary.
“There were no performance evaluations, no consultation with the town attorney or the board, she just did it,” she said. “She [Bouchard] gave over a decade of service.”
Accordingly, the town council voted to reappoint Bouchard as bookkeeper at a meeting Tuesday Nov. 29, but Southworth refused to do so, stating she had just cause to fire her.
Southworth said she alone has the authority to hire and fire her own executive assistant and bookkeeper, like other town department heads, because it allows her the freedom to choose the most capable person she can trust to fill such an important role. She claims the executive assistant position was created 30 years ago for that very reason.
“The board’s actions are taking away the authority the public elected me to carry out,” Southworth said. Southworth said abolishing the bookkeeper position sets her up for a potential lawsuit with any misappropriation of funds due to any future audit of the accounting books.
“This puts the town in serious financial straits. Bond companies will not be happy because of the lack of checks and balances,” she said.
Anticipating legal action on the part of Bouchard and without the backing of the town council, Southworth has retained legal representation out of her own pocket.
“This is retribution, payback because they did not want me to get reelected,” Southworth said. “The tone of the upcoming year has been set.”