Wednesday, 07 February 2024 15:04

Mayor Safford Delivers State Of The City

Mayor John Safford delivered the 2024 State of the City Address, the first of his term as mayor of Saratoga Springs, on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Photo provided Mayor John Safford delivered the 2024 State of the City Address, the first of his term as mayor of Saratoga Springs, on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Photo provided

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Mayor John Safford delivered the 2024 State of the City Address, the first of his term as mayor of Saratoga Springs, on Tuesday, Jan. 30. 

The mayor riffed on “harmony” as a theme moving forward. 

“As we envision the Saratoga of tomorrow, I ponder: What will our city look like in a decade? Not merely in its architectural facets, but in its character—the essence of our Saratogian identity. Who will we be? At the core of this reflection lies the notion of harmony,” Safford said. 

“Much like an orchestra or a chorus, we are diverse yet interwoven—individual notes coalescing into a harmonious symphony. In an era marked by division, the concept of harmony beckons us to bridge divides and foster unity. Here, today, in this room, we sow the seeds of a harmonious future—a future where our collective melody transcends discord.”

Safford spoke of both 2023 city accomplishments and 2024 stated goals, offering general remarks related to some overall council topics – “a comprehensive, long-term plan is imperative as we strive towards achieving net-zero homelessness” – and applying more specificity to Mayor’s Department goals.      

The Goals of the City Attorney’s Office are: Complete a review of all litigation pending against the city; See if we can find a way to reduce litigation frequency and expense; Help the various law firms employed by the City manage their cases and to keep the City Council informed; Streamline & expedite responses to FOIL requests to avoid legal fees being granted against the City.

In 2023, the city Building Department conducted 2,157 Inspections, and issued 460 Certificates of Occupancy including approximately 70 new dwelling units. The department also issued 871 permits - generating over $500,000 in building department fees, with an estimated construction value of approximately $185 million, the mayor said. 

2024 Building Department Goals: reduce permit wait time to the range of 4 – 6 weeks for the majority of permit applications, streamline the process for third party review of commercial building permit applications to facilitate reduced permit times; evaluate and modify the process for intake and review of simple permits so minor projects can be permitted more quickly. A full integration of scanned digital records and improvement of digitization for projects was also stated. 

2023 was the first full calendar year since the adoption of the City’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). Approximately 64 Land Use Board meetings were held and a total of 1,044 project applications were submitted to the Design Review Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Planning Board. 

Mayor Safford specifically pointed to a handful of “notable” projects that had been recently approved, including a pair of housing developments that will provide approximately 232 affordable housing units, a large fitness center at Skidmore College, the redevelopment of Longfellow’s Hotel and Restaurant, Canadian pipe maker Soleno’s warehouse and corporate office expansion into the U.S., and three retail marijuana dispensaries.

In 2024, the Office of Planning and Economic Development will kick-off the Climate Action Plan which will guide the city in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, Safford said. 

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