LAKE PLACID - Nearly a dozen people showed up at a public hearing Wednesday night, June 18, concerned about a Family Dollar store planned for their road.
Five people who live on or off of Fawn Ridge Road spoke against the store's plan at the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board meeting. James Moser, of Moser Engineering, and Mark Nadolny, who conducted the traffic study, addressed the review board on behalf of the store.
Family Dollar wants to build the 8,320-square-foot store on a 1-acre empty lot near the intersection of Fawn Ridge Road and Saranac Avenue, next to Burnham Benefit Advisors. Champlain National Bank is currently building its Tri-Lakes branch office on the other side of the Burnham building; its access would be only on Saranac Avenue.
Several residents of Fawn Ridge Road came to the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board meeting Wednesday to disapprove of the Family Dollar’s plan to build a store on their road.
(Photo — Matthew Turner)
Many of the Fawn Ridge Road residents said the traffic at the intersection is bad enough and that an additional business would only make matters worse.
Ruth Prime, owner of the Adirondack Store has lived on Fawn Ridge Road for 30 years.
"Towards the end of April is probably the slowest time of the year," Prime said. "So, I don't think it's a fair analysis of Fawn Ridge Drive. ... With Aubuchon (Hardware) there, we've noticed an increase in traffic with deliveries. Even now, it's a little tricky getting out of Fawn Ridge Drive."
Debbie Ellsworth of Fawn Ridge Road echoed the others' sentiment, saying traffic would be way worse and questioned the company wanting to build there.
"There are several empty places in Lake Placid for a store," Ellsworth said. "A dollar store right smack in the corner of a residential place does not make sense."
Carl Gonyea's home borders the Family Dollar lot. He was concerned the store would devalue his property and also about the traffic.
"If the store does go in, there should be a light at the end of the road," Gonyea said.
Nadolny defended the traffic study, explaining that it took seasonal spikes of traffic into consideration, increasing the volume on the study 10 percent because of it. Despite that, the road was still "recreational," he said.
Nadolny said the average wait time at the intersection is 18 seconds. With the Family Dollar traffic, he expected the wait time to increase by 6 seconds.
"A traffic light on Fawn Ridge is not warranted," Nadolny said. "There are likely more intersections that need a signal before Fawn Ridge."
Nadolny also said safety is not a major issue there, saying there were two reported accidents at the intersection in a 10-year period.
In an email to Moser, Kevin J. Novak of the state Department of Transportation's Office of Traffic Safety and Mobility expressed concerns over traffic safety at the intersection. Town of North Elba Code Enforcement Officer James Morganson also raised similar concerns back in March, writing a letter to the review board.
"Is there any way to get you to make a redesign to improve the situation?" Morganson asked Nadolny.
Nadolny said the problem with a redesign is that Family Dollar does not own the adjacent properties.
After the public hearing closed, Chairman Bill Hurley said the review board should meet with the North Elba town board in a work session to address the traffic issues and traffic study; the site is outside the Lake Placid village line. After that happens, there will be another meeting to discuss the store. At that meeting there will be no period for public comment; only written comments can be made, Hurley said.
Moser backed up the traffic study, saying it was professionally done and that the review board should trust it.
"I hope it's ruled on the factual part and not emotion," Moser said.
Before the audience left, a man in the crowd asked the board if the store is a "done deal."
"It hasn't been approved yet, but they're making every effort," Hurley answered.
Family Dollar plans to hire five to six employees at the new location. It would be open Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.