Colonie cracks down further on Central Avenue motels

Posted at: 07/25/2013 11:52 PM
By: Dan Levy

COLONIE - The Colonie Town Board on Thursday night cracked down even more on hotel and motel owners along Central Avenue. Three years after setting limits on the number of sex offenders allowed in each motel, the town expanded its rule over those businesses.

Along the seven-mile stretch of Route 5 that runs through Colonie, there are 22 motels. Many of the residents living along that corridor will tell you those establishments have become the bane of their existence.

"Anybody with a naked eye would say those aren't well-maintained, quality establishments," said Richard Stack, a Colonie resident, during a public hearing at town hall Thursday night. "They leave a lot to be desired."

Many residents will tell you the motels along Central Avenue are filled with undesirables -- drug addicts, sex offenders and prostitutes.

They'll tell you about the many traffic accidents they've witnessed, quite a few of them fatal. They'll also swear to you that their property values are greatly diminished by all of it.

"All we're trying to do is protect our neighborhood, my investment," Joyce Bard told the board. "I worked hard for my home and I want to keep it my home."

In 2009 the town passed a law limiting the number of sex offenders that could live in each motel complex. Colonie's police chief says that made a huge difference.

"It reduced our sex offenders in town by nearly 50 percent," said Colonie Police Chief Steve Heider. "And not just total number, but the Level 3 offenders (the most dangerous level). It probably reduced more than that."

On Thursday night the town board went even further, voting unanimously to increase their leverage over those 22 motels.

"By adopting the local law it makes it much more difficult for a hotel owner to expand his hotel or try to build a new one," said Mike Magguilli, the Colonie town attorney. "Hopefully if a business can't expand, if a business can't grow, they tend to die."

Town Supervisor Paul Mahan says it won't solve the problem, but it is another step in the right direction. In a perfect world, she says, there'd be a better solution.

"I wish they had more appropriate places to place these people," she said.

What motel owners now need to do, if they're planning a new motel or if they're planning to expand their current operation, is to address the impact any changes would have on the residents, including a Department of Transportation study on how pedestrians would be affected.

Motel owners still need to place a sign in their office window notifying everyone if they have sex offenders living there.