SARANAC LAKE — Proposed construction of a waterfront hotel here is proceeding to review as a Planned Unit Development District.
Malone hotel developer and Realtor Chris LaBarge delivered illustrations of the project to the Village Planning Board on Tuesday, complying with the initial review phase.
“We submitted an application under the Planned Unit District Development (PUDD). What that does is allow us to request a zone change for specific uses of the property,” LaBarge told the Press-Republican on Wednesday.
“In particular, we are looking at two major items that don’t comply with current zoning.
“First is the height of the proposed structure, being four stories and 59.5 feet. Current zoning only allows for two stories.
“Secondly, we are proposing structures within 50 feet of the water — that would be the viewing deck and the detached restaurant.”
LaBarge is actually requesting a zoning change under the Planned Unit Development District process, a step wholly different from seeking multiple variances.
“We chose not to go the variance route because we are developing the project in concert with the Village Planning Board and Village Board, the Adirondack Park Agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corps of Engineers,” he said.
Planned Unit Development condenses the need for variance review.
“It takes the project as a whole and looks at the components of it. If approved by the municipality, then the property becomes a specific zone for that project,” he explained.
The proposed Lake Flower hotel is not yet named, but it is designed to hearken back to historic turn-of-the-century inns that once graced the lake and other nearby shorelines.
LaBarge has contracted to buy three motel properties near where Lake Flower Avenue turns west toward the village proper.
“We’re working to build an iconic destination resort in Saranac Lake — on the water — that provides a unique building reminiscent of the historic hotels characteristic of the Saranac Lake area,” he said.
The 90-room Lake Flower hotel was selected as a priority project by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council in August.
As such, it is one of several tourism infrastructure developments in line for state Economic Development funding.
Hotel developers requested $2.2 million in state resources toward the $15 million project. Allocations for Economic Council requests will be announced later this month.
Residents at the Planning Board meeting Tuesday were able to weigh in on the new hotel, its height and its location. The session was opened for comments, though it was not a formal public hearing.
“There were comments from some property owners to the east of the proposed project and one opposite on Lake Flower that did raise concern about overall height of the building,” LaBarge said.
“There were others who did not have concern with the height.
Tuesday night, the Planning Board “made an advisory to the Village Board relative to our project, saying we have met the requirements of the sketch-plan phase,” LaBarge said.
The next step is a joint meeting of the Planning Board and the Village Board. After that, an official public hearing will be scheduled.
“Upon completion of the public hearing, the Village Board will render a decision whether or not to allow us to complete the final project submission under the PUDD,” LaBarge said.
He expects the initial review process will take place over the next six weeks.
“Once the Village Board makes notification to me, there are additional requirements we would submit, then the project is returned to the Planning Board for a positive or negative advisory.
“The Village Board would then hold a second public hearing,” he said.
Some concern has focused on parking and traffic along that stretch of Lake Flower Avenue, which is also Route 86 coming into Saranac Lake.
Parking for the new hotel would encompass two areas, one with 99 parking spaces at the Lake Flower hotel and one just up the road with 50 additional spots.
Asked if LaBarge heard other concerns from the public on Tuesday, he said that overall he felt a very positive sentiment in response to the project.
“The hotel addresses many items in the Saranac Lake Destination Marketing Plan and in the Comprehensive Plan. We feel very confident we have a viable project to bring to Saranac Lake.”
After village review, the hotel will go to the Adirondack Park Agency for approval, as the height and waterfront location triggered APA jurisdiction.
Planning Board President Leslie Karasin could not be reached Wedneesday to comment on the next step in their side of the review process.
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