Aubuchon to Lake St. fire site? ZBA hears concerns, says OK

TUPPER LAKE – Several residents expressed concerns about a proposed new location for the local Aubuchon Hardware store, but the Zoning Board of Appeals approved variances for the project.

The ZBA held an unusually well-attended hearing on the project Wednesday in the village court room. More than a dozen people showed up, with some expressing concerns about the project and some offering support for it.

The project would relocate the local Aubuchon store from a plaza on Demars Boulevard to 61 Lake St., a lot owned by Helen Manne where a large commercial building burned down two years ago. It would use the foundation remaining from after the fire and build a street-level story on top of it, expanding the building back and changing the orientation of it to be more perpendicular to Lake Street than the former building there.

Aubuchon’s plans need a variance for lot coverage requirements and another variance for the number of parking spaces necessary on the site. Local codes require 86 parking spots for the 17,225-square-foot building Aubuchon plans, but the company is requesting to have somewhere between 36 and 53 parking spots.

Aubuchon Realty Company President Greg Moran joined the hearing on a conference call. He has submitted a detailed study of Aubuchon’s typical traffic that found customers generally stay in the company’s stores an average of 7.4 minutes, and on the stores’ busiest days annually – May 20, 25 and 26 – there is a need for, at most, 12 parking places.

If the relocation increases the Tupper Lake store’s volume 36 percent, which would make it the company’s third-highest-ranking store in all of its 120, it would only need 16 to 18 parking spots, Moran said.

Moran said the site can accommodate 53 spaces, but he’d like to make fewer since there isn’t a need for even that many. He said more green space is desirable; plus it’s more work to paint lines for 53 spaces every year than it is for 36.

He said 36 spots “more than doubles what I think our peak would ever be.”

Te Jay, who operates New Beginnings salon next door to the site, said she supports Aubuchon’s right to develop a new site, but she doesn’t think this is a good place for it.

When the old building was there, she had tons of problems with people parking in her business’ space while going to one of the businesses or apartments there, she said.

“It’s not reasonable,” Jay said. “There’s a lot of reasons why this shouldn’t be done.”

Real estate broker Rob Gillis, who is working with Aubuchon, noted that there were far fewer parking spots at the old building than are planned in the new project, and the orientation of the new building should help with parking, too.

“There’s a big difference, Te,” Gillis said.

Tom Sparks, who lives down the street, said it would be inconvenient for Aubuchon customers to park at Jay’s business if there are going to be a number of spots closer to the store.

Gillis asked if it would help if Aubuchon helped Jay put up signs designating which parking spaces are for which business, and she said it might.

Jay said her concern is less for parking and more for the flow of traffic. She said there are often car crashes at a flashing light at the nearby corner of Mill and Lake streets, and she doesn’t think having this store there would help.

Village Code Enforcement Officer Pete Edwards said the former building used to have a number of businesses – two contractors, a day care, a computer store and the local CSEA union headquarters – in addition to about six apartments, so Aubuchon might have less traffic than that.

Jay also mentioned concerns about the safety of having a propane filling station next door. Moran said Aubuchon would upgrade its propane facility from the one at its current location, and the company has never had a problem with propane since it started selling it.

“It’s been 11 years now, and we’ve never had an incident that would cause anybody any harm,” Moran said. “We’ve got a great record.”

Nancy Howard asked if there would be landscaping delineating the store’s lot from the nearby playground. Several people noted that there is a hill between the two lots, but town Code Enforcement Officer Paul O’Leary said that question, along with several others being asked, should be saved for when the project gets to the planning board. That’s the next step.

The ZBA approved the variance unanimously. Gillis said he expects to see the project at the planning board in May. The project has already received a letter from the state Adirondack Park Agency declaring that it doesn’t have jurisdiction over the project, Gillis said. He said that as soon as Aubuchon gets planning board approval, the project should be ready to close on the property and start on construction.

Contact Jessica Collier at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or