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Saranac Lake board approves Lake Flower hotel rezoning

March 17, 2015
By CHRIS KNIGHT ( , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - In one of its most closely watched votes in recent memory, the village Board of Trustees approved a zoning change for a controversial Lake Flower hotel Monday, March 16.

In a 4-0 vote, the board signed off on the proposed Lake Flower Planned Unit Development District, designed to accommodate Lake Flower Lodging LLC's proposed 93-room, four story, high-end hotel, spa and conference center.

A four-vote supermajority was needed to advance the project, and that's what happened. Mayor Clyde Rabideau and Trustees Tom Catillaz, Allie Pelletieri and Barbara Rice all voted in favor of the zoning change. Trustee Paul Van Cott, who's recused himself from the project, wasn't at the meeting.

Article Photos

The blue roofs of the Lake Side Motel, at left, indicate one of three motels on Lake Flower's Pontiac Bay that would become the site of the new Lake Flower Spa and Resort, which the Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees approved Monday, March 16. This photo was taken from the roof of DeChantal Apartments.
(Photo — Peter Crowley)

This is not the end of the road for the project by any stretch. It still needs village Planning Board and state Adirondack Park Agency approval; however, the rezoning was seen as crucial to the project moving forward. Without it, the hotel would have required a series of variances from the village.

"We're real pleased the decision has been favorable," Lake Flower Lodging developer Chris LaBarge said after the meeting. "We're real excited to get working on the project. Now that it's a legal project in the village, we have an opportunity to work with the Planning Board on the final design prior to going to the Adirondack Park (Agency) for their approval."

The hotel would be built on the site of three Lake Flower Avenue motels that LaBarge's company is under contract to buy: the Lake Flower Inn, the Lake Side Motel and the Adirondack Motel.

Opponents have said the hotel is too big for the lakefront site and would cause traffic congestion and pedestrian safety issues. Others have said the PUDD process is a way of bending the rules for the project.

LaBarge said he plans to make some changes to the project's design based on public feedback, including pulling back a detached restaurant that would be located along the lake's shoreline.

"We're going to attempt to try to get the entire building outside of the 50-foot setback," he said. "I don't know if it's completely possible, but I think we can certainly minimize that because that's one thing we've heard. As we refine the size of the rooms, I think there's some opportunity to reduce square footage. The building's overall square footage will go down so that will affect the mass going forward."

The $15 million to $18 million project was first proposed in July 2013. It was awarded $2 million in state economic development funds in December of that year.



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