Review board backs rezoning for Lake Placid condo plan
LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid-North Elba Review Board voted Wednesday, Aug. 16 to recommend that a rezoning request from the developers of a tract of land on the shore of Lake Placid be approved. Though the application was the only item on the board’s docket for the meeting, the board spent almost an hour debating the details of the request.
Rich Kroes and Katrina Lussi Kroes of Lake Placid, through Lake Placid Marina Corp. LLC, first submitted the rezoning request on May 24. The 3.69-acre tract of land on George and Bliss Lane and Mirror Lake Drive includes three parcels, all of which are zoned differently. One is zoned “South Lake Residential” (in the town of North Elba, outside of the village), another “Village Residential” (inside village boundaries) and another “Shoreland Overlay” (any land or property within 100 feet of the shoreline of any lake, pond or river within the town or village). The Kroes’ request would change the zoning of all three parcels to “Planned Development District,” giving them more flexible setback requirements and a taller maximum building height.
The conceptual plan of the proposed condominium project includes two structures — a larger structure with 18 units, located approximately where the building that houses Helping Hands Thrift Store currently sits — and a smaller structure along Mirror Lake Drive that would house six additional units. One of the units would have parking underneath it in an effort to preserve some parking for the marina.
At a joint public hearing with the Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees and North Elba Town Council in July, neighbors voiced opposition to the request for a variety of reasons. They cited concerns about obstructed views of Lake Placid due to the proposed project’s height and worried that the project would negatively impact the neighborhood.
The board’s recommendation — developed partially from public comments and a site visit by the board — includes proposed setbacks, which are the distance a building is required to be from a street or neighbor. The board recommended a 50-foot setback from the lake; a 75-foot setback from the center of Mirror Lake Drive, which borders the tract of land to the south; and a 20-foot setback from the property line on all other sides of the tract.
Rick Thompson, chairman of the board, described the scope and limitations of the board’s power.
“It’s important to note that we have not and are not reviewing a proposed development plan at this time,” Thompson said. “This is a strictly legislative recommendation that we would make to the town and village boards, that we recommend that it be approved or not approved and … provide our input as far as the setbacks are.”
Board member Laura Yerkovich raised concerns about the height of the proposed condominiums. When rezoned as a Planned Development District, buildings would be allowed to reach up to 45 feet tall, as opposed to a maximum of 30 feet tall under current zoning. Board member Peter Aliferis also expressed reservations about losing available parking spaces for the marina due to both the proposed condominiums and the parking spots attached to those units. Board attorney Tim Smith reminded the board that these considerations were outside of the scope of their power, which consists solely of their ability to present a recommendation to the Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees and North Elba Town Council, who would then handle the details of approving the project itself.
Rich Kroes responded to the board’s concerns, which mounted over the course of the meeting.
“We could build a 30 foot building that’s 50 feet long, but we wouldn’t want to do that, because we don’t want to drive by that, either,” he said. “We take all this input that we’ve been hearing, knowing that these are concerns, and if we present something that’s wildly in violation of what you’re bringing up as concerns, that would be irresponsible of us and unlikely to get very favorable meetings here…we don’t want that, either. So, we’re going to have to come up with a reasonable plan … that’s on us to do.”
Aliferis referred to its current state as “an eyesore.” Other board members agreed that the area needed to be redeveloped.
“This move gives the town, gives us, a redevelopment of a badly needed area, of a badly needed situation, and it allows us to rebuild within some parameters to improve everything that is at that location on the lake right there,” Thompson said. “I agree with Peter; I think the current situation over there is an eyesore.”
The board voted to approve their recommendation to rezone the tract and create a Planned Development District. Six members voted for and one member, Yerkovich, voted against.
“My reservations take me across to the other side,” Yerkovich said.
The recommendation will be passed to the Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees and North Elba Town Council, who will make the final decision to rezone the tract. If both the town and village approve the rezoning request, the developers could then return to the review board with more detailed construction plans. The Adirondack Park Agency could take jurisdiction over the project because it’s on the water, adding another layer of review.