St. Armand hosts hearing tonight on AMA annexation

BLOOMINGDALE – The town of St. Armand will host a public hearing tonight on the annexation of the American Management Association campus into the village of Saranac Lake.

While the town board isn’t expected to take a formal vote until its April board meeting, a pair of town residents and Supervisor Charles Whitson chimed in on the proposal at Tuesday night’s regular board meeting.

“We fully support annexation of AMA into the village,” said Sandy Aery. “The village needs a break. If it happens that they do develop it and it increases the tax base, it’s all the better for town and village residents. Growth is good, and we totally support it.”

“We feel that without a good strong village, the towns are going to be nothing,” said Aery’s husband, Paul Aery. “So it’s time to pitch in and help everybody and try to make it a good thing.”

“I can’t speak for the other board members, but the feeling that I get is we’re pretty much in agreement with what you just stated – at least I am myself,” Whitson said. “I feel as though everybody can be a winner in this process if it goes the way we’re hopeful that it does.”

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 property. Village officials have been pushing hard for annexation as they believe development of the property could create more jobs and increase the village tax base.

AMA, which provides management training courses and seminars, has 150 workers and is one of the area’s largest employers. Its 63-acre campus is located just outside the village in the town of St. Armand. If it’s annexed into the village, it would still be part of the St. Armand tax base as the town overlaps into part of the village.

The company is tax exempt but makes payments in lieu of taxes to the town, the Saranac Lake Central School District and Essex County. AMA has said it will continue to write PILOT checks after annexation. The village has reserved the right to ask for a PILOT, but AMA has made no guarantees it would agree to provide one.

The town and village held a joint public hearing on annexation on Jan. 23. Under state law, the two governments have 90 days from the date of that hearing to determine whether the proposal complies with the law and is in the overall public interest, giving them until April 23.

St. Armand officials said they wanted to host their own hearing on annexation because some town residents thought the January hearing was just for Saranac Lake residents. Tonight’s hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the town hall in Bloomingdale.

The village board has yet to take a vote on annexation.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or