St. Armand board will discuss AMA annexation

BLOOMINGDALE – The St. Armand town board plans to meet with its lawyer to discuss the proposed annexation of the American Management Association campus into the village of Saranac Lake.

The board is also planning to host its own public forum on AMA annexation before making a decision, which has to happen by April 23.

Under state law, the two governments have 90 days from the date of a joint town-village public hearing on annexation, which was held Jan. 23 in Saranac Lake, to determine whether the proposal complies with the law and is in the overall public interest.

Supervisor Charles Whitson said at Tuesday night’s town board meeting that he received a letter from Lake Placid attorney Matthew Norfolk requesting a meeting with the board to discuss annexation.

Councilman Sam Grimone then asked if the town would hold a public forum, “so people can voice their opinions about it.”

“We can, yes,” said Whitson.

Town resident Sandy Hayes asked if the board’s meeting with Norfolk would be open to the public or if it would be a closed-door executive session. Whitson said he didn’t see any reason why it would need to be in executive session, but he said he’d check with Norfolk.

Councilman Don Amell suggested holding the meeting with Norfolk and the public forum on the same night.

“The one thing I did hear after the fact is that some folks saw the public hearing in Saranac Lake and thought it was for Saranac Lake, and that the (St. Armand) board was just invited,” Amell said. “They didn’t quite understand it was a public hearing for everybody concerned, including St. Armand residents.”

Whitson said he’d contact Norfolk and get back to board members individually to schedule a date for a meeting and public forum.

AMA, which provides management training courses and seminars, has 150 workers and is one of the area’s largest employers. AMA officials have said they want to be annexed because they believe being in the village, and being able to use its planning and economic development services, will boost the prospects of developing unused buildings and vacant land on their 63-acre property.

Village officials have been pushing for annexation of AMA for close to two years. Mayor Clyde Rabideau has said development of the company’s property could grow more jobs and increase the tax base in the village.

Rabideau said Wednesday that the village is waiting on a final transcript of the public hearing before voting on annexation. He expects the decision will be made at either the board’s Feb. 25 meeting or its March 11 meeting.