The following letter to the editor by Sustainable Saratoga’s Chairman, Harry Moran, appeared in the Jan. 16, 2015 edition of the Saratogian:
Reader’s View: Support for sustainability and smart land use
Sustainable Saratoga is a nonprofit volunteer organization that offers a constructive voice for sustainable practices in our city. We want to make sure that the environmental, economic and social qualities that make our city special will be protected far into the future.
Three years ago we advocated for an update to the Comprehensive Plan, our city’s vision for development. The Comprehensive Plan Committee recently concluded the long process of review and revision. The draft plan they submitted for action by the City Council incorporates and builds on many of the key features of the 2001 plan, including the “City in the Country” theme, the focus on long-term sustainability, the importance of strong economic growth in the core of the city, vibrant neighborhoods and the need for diversity and affordability. However, it left a number of issues unresolved.
We are pleased that the City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing planned unit developments (PUDs) in the city’s more rural outer area, known as the greenbelt. PUDs would threaten our “City in the Country” model by permitting denser residential and new commercial development. Six of the 13 committee members recently worked to prepare a complete draft Comprehensive Plan that better reflects the City Council’s resolution, the concerns of the public and a more sustainable land use policy. We urge the City Council to adopt this draft as the next Comprehensive Plan.
Recently, Sustainable Saratoga was inaccurately portrayed as opposing any growth in the greenbelt. In fact, to balance relatively dense, well-designed mixed-use development downtown, we support creative, low-density development in the outer areas of our city. A compact, walkable and dynamic urban core surrounded by a more rural, lower-density greenbelt makes our city more attractive to residents, tourists and businesses than most other cities our size. Our unique character is the key to our success, and we should strive to keep it that way. On our website (www.sustainablesaratoga.org) we have posted our position paper, “Smart Land Use in Saratoga,” which elaborates our principles for sustainable development.
Along with Saratoga’s increasing success, we all have experienced the challenges of more car and truck traffic. On the evenings of Jan. 21 and 22, we are offering back-to-back forums on downtown parking and transportation. We have engaged two national experts who will talk about how other communities are addressing problems similar to ours. Without promoting preconceived solutions, we present these informative programs as a possible first step in building greater understanding and consensus toward parking and transportation solutions in Saratoga Springs. Both programs begin at 7 p.m. at the Saratoga Springs Public Library. Please join us.
Harry Moran is chair of Sustainable Saratoga.