Saugerties affordable housing approved via video-call

master plan SQAfter a summer of failing to get five members in the same room at the same time, the Village Planning Board used a video-call to break a tie-vote on the fate of a 42-unit affordable housing proposal.

In July, the vote was 2-2 on an extension for approval of the project, whose developers have sought extensions each year while hoping to be selected for state subsidies they say the project needs to be built. A tie vote meant approval would lapse.

Following the vote, an attorney from Premier Development said his client may consider suing the village for discrimination — a case the village’s own attorney, Alex Betke, said it would lose.


The board decided to try to convene five members at the same time and break the tie. After failing to make it happen during vacation season, Betke told the board it would be legal if a member attended virtually.

Present were board members Mary Leahy, Gary Newkirk, Marilyn Daley and Rita Ford, while chair Jeff Helmuth was absent. Board member Mike Karashay, who was in Albany on business, called in via Apple’s FaceTime and voted yes.

Leahy and Ford voted “no” with Leahy saying she “disapproved of the process.”

“This is an unsound practice,” Leahy said.

“I’m really sorry to have to do this over the phone,” Karashay said over the phone.

Village trustee Jeannine Mayer, who serves as liaison to the Planning Board, said, “but you’re here in spirit.”

The project would have mixed-use housing for seniors, low-income families and the disabled. Pat Simmons, a principal with Premier, said if the project fails to gain state funding again this winter it will not be built.

The project site is next to the Ametek-Rotron facility on North St.