Saratoga’s Greenbelt – Preserving the City in the Country vision

Have you ever heard of Saratoga Springs referred to as the City in the Country? This title evokes a vision of a vibrant city with an urban core that is surrounded by an outlying rural area of natural ecosystems, open space, agriculture, and low density development. The Greenbelt is the sparsely developed area surrounding the core of Saratoga Springs, or the “country” part of the City in the Country.

What is the Saratoga Springs Greenbelt?

The Greenbelt is an area of low intensity development that surrounds the urban core of the City of Saratoga Springs. It is environmentally important because it fosters biodiversity, flood protection, water quality, climate resiliency, and wildlife habitat. It also helps maintain the rural character of our “City in the County” by promoting tourism and economic sustainability.

Sustainable Saratoga has long been committed to protecting the sensitive and valuable natural areas in the Greenbelt. We advocate for land use regulations that strengthen environmental protections and limit the intensity of new development and incompatible uses. The 2015 City of Saratoga Springs Comprehensive Plan, and the Natural Resources Inventory both make the case for the importance of safeguarding this valuable area.

The city's Greenbelt is not the Greenbelt Trail
Aerial view of the Saratoga Greenbelt landscape

The City of Saratoga Springs first officially established a designated “Country Overlay Area,” now known as the Greenbelt, with the adoption of the 2001 Comprehensive Plan. That document included a map of the City that depicts a nearly contiguous green area around the urban core which defines and shapes the “Country” in the “The City in the Country” vision of the Plan. The 2015 Comprehensive Plan repeats and reinforces this policy with even stronger wording.

Sign up HERE to get involved and stay informed about Sustainable Saratoga’s advocacy work to protect the Greenbelt.

Map of the Country Overlay Area (Greenbelt) from the 2015 Plan

(click image to enlarge)

Map of Saratoga Springs, NY showing the Greenbelt area

The outline of the Greenbelt shows a dense urban core with a well-defined edge that differentiates it from the outlying rural area.

The Greenbelt allows development that is rural

The City’s policy is that the area should “consist of open lands, a landscape of rural character and low-density residential development.” Some of the land is publicly owned, but most is privately owned. Low density development exists and is permitted. However, the City’s policy calls for all development within the Greenbelt to have “rural character.”

Why is it important to preserve the Greenbelt?

Protecting the city’s countryside and rural character helps preserve its cultural heritage. It distinguishes our community from other tourist destinations that have failed to protect their unique character.

In addition to providing cultural and economic benefits, the Greenbelt provides many environmental services, including climate change adaptation and mitigation. Importantly, the city’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan declares that there is a legitimate public interest in protecting the city’s Greenbelt:

“Natural features are valuable as part of a community’s character, scenery, and wildlife habitat, as well as the area’s quality of life. The ecological integrity of the city’s natural resources, including groundwater, streams and wetlands, trees and woodlands, steep slopes, vegetated wildlife habitat, and areas rich in biodiversity must be maintained and protected, even as development occurs. …With conservation as the core development principle in this area, the community is assured that development in this area works alongside conservation values.”

What can you do to help?

  • Stay involved and informed about Sustainable Saratoga’s advocacy work to protect the Greenbelt. Sign up HERE
  • Advocate for local zoning regulations that preserve the Greenbelt
  • Attend public hearings to support the rural character of the Greenbelt
  • Spread the word to about why Saratoga’s Greenbelt must be protected

Saratoga Greenbelt wetlands

Read more

The Saratoga Springs Greenbelt: What is it? (Download PDF)

The Saratoga Springs Greenbelt: How it got created and what regulates it (Download PDF)

Saratoga’s Greenbelt – Preserving the City in the Country vision (Read online) (Download PDF)