Code Blue shel­ter won’t open for win­ter

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Joseph Phe­lan jphe­

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. » Or­ga­niz­ers of a cold­weather home­less shel­ter are search­ing for a new lo­ca­tion be­cause of a law­suit that’s mak­ing its way through the courts.

Shel­ters of Saratoga was in the process of build­ing a per­ma­nent Code Blue shel­ter at 14 Wal­worth St. when neigh­bors sued in July to stop its construction. A judge placed a re­strain­ing or­der on the build­ing project and blocked the city from is­su­ing any per­mits for the project.

The case is still wait­ing for a rul­ing from the judge. With a 60 days to make a de­ci­sion, Shel­ters of Saratoga doesn’t be­lieve there’s enough time to fin­ish the new fa­cil­ity.

Shel­ters of Saratoga Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Michael Finoc­chi said he’s pre­par­ing for the Code Blue pro­gram to be lo­cated else­where, but the fa­cil­ity has not been an­nounced yet.

A gift from the Mitzen fam­ily to Shel­ters of

Saratoga in Fe­bru­ary en­abled the agency to build a per­ma­nent Code Blue shel­ter. The shel­ter has had tem­po­rary res­i­dence at St. Peter’s Parish Cen­ter, the Sal­va­tion Army build­ing and at the Soul Sav­ing Sta­tion Church in down­town Saratoga Springs.

But neigh­bors of the pro­posed site sued, say­ing the Saratoga Springs plan­ning board should not have is­sued a per­mit be­cause the cri­te­ria for get­ting one had not been met. The law­suit is also chal­leng­ing whether the new shel­ter fits into the neigh­bor­hood, which is zoned res­i­den­tial.

The law­suit fol­lowed a June de­ci­sion by the city’s zon­ing board of ap­peals to deny an ap­peal by res­i­dents who op­posed the shel­ter.

At­tor­ney Clau­dia Braymer, who is rep­re­sent­ing the neigh­bors in this case, said they are “pleased with the le­gal process so far.”

“We be­lieve that the judge is tak­ing the pe­ti­tion­ers’ con­cerns se­ri­ously, and that he is care­fully con­sid­er­ing all of the rea­sons that we cited about why the Code Blue shel­ter is not an al­lowed use in the pro­posed lo­ca­tion,” Braymer said.

Code Blue is a walk-in, emer­gency home­less shel­ter that of­fers a hot meal and a warm and safe place to sleep when tem­per­a­tures in the city are be­low 32 de­grees or there is sig­nif­i­cant snow­fall.

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