Saranac Lake rezones AMA land

SARANAC LAKE – Less than a month after the village Board of Trustees approved the annexation of the American Management Association campus into the village, the board has agreed to rezone the property as a planned development district.

Trustees voted 4-0 Monday to approve a local law that amends the village zoning map and land-use code to designate AMA’s 63 acres at the “M” zoning district. The local law also says all permitted and conditional uses in the M district will be established through adoption of a planned unit development, or PUD.

AMA officials have said they want to develop some of their unused buildings and vacant land, and they’ve said the PUD classification will give them more flexibility in knowing what future uses will be allowed on the property. The company will have to go through the PUD process with both the planning board and the village board before any new development can take place.

“(The process) allows the village and AMA to look at the entire site in totality, look at all the different issues, development, historic structures, traffic and environmental issues, and come up with a plan that works for both the property owner and for the village,” village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans said last month.

There were no comments from the audience during a public hearing held prior to Monday’s vote.

The village had agreed to consider a PUD application from AMA as part of an annexation agreement the board approved in 2011. The deal required AMA to grant the village easements across its property to allow for construction associated with the village’s $12.5 million water project. In return, the village agreed to improve some of the infrastructure on the company’s property and take over maintenance of AMA Way, which runs between Trudeau Road and a gate at the end of Park Avenue that’s now been opened up to through traffic.

The deal also required AMA to petition the village and town to annex its property into the village. It did so last year, and both the village and town boards approved the annexation last month.

Sewer project

The board also voted Monday to submit an application to the North Country Regional Economic Development Council for gap financing for a major sewer line replacement project.

The village is asking for up to $190,000, or 20 percent of the $950,000 project cost, to replace what’s called the LaPan sewer line, which has partially collapsed. Village Manager John Sweeney said the sewer line runs from the former village offices on Main Street up to LaPan Highway and Dorsey Street.

The resolution approved by the board says the sewer line serves a large portion of the village and part of the town of Harrietstown, including several major employers: Trudeau Institute, St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers, and the Saranac Lake Central School District. It’s also located along Lake Flower and the Saranac River, and if it failed, it would spill sewage into those water bodies, the resolution states.

The village plans to finance whatever project costs are not covered by state grant funds through long-term borrowing and reserves.

Trustee Allie Pelletieri asked if the village is seeking other grants or just the one from the NCREDC.

“This is the initial direction,” he said. “We’ll be looking for other ones, but truthfully there are very few grants out there we’ll be able to get for this project.”

Sweeney said the village is under an “order on consent” from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to replace the sewer line.


Later in the meeting, Pelletieri said village staff met recently with he and Trustee Barbara Rice to discuss a draft memorandum of understanding with the Saranac Lake SkatePark Committee. The MOU spells out the details such as how the skatepark, once it’s built by the volunteer committee, will be transitioned to the village to be run as a park, according to village Manager John Sweeney.

“We’re going to get that done, and our plan is to send it to the rest of the board members so they can look that over,” Pelletieri said. “After they’ve looked it over and had their comments, we’ll move on to a meeting with the skateboard committee. After we’ve gone over it with them and we’re all still in agreement, we’ll move into a discussion with the neighboring properties of where this facility may be located.”

The current plan is to locate the skatepark in an embankment on village property next to the Enterprise building, including part of the village parking lot behind Community Bank on Broadway, Sweeney said.

Pelletieri said he’s hopeful the board will be able to make a final decision to approve the skatepark site and plan at its May 28 meeting.

Pedestrian bridge

The state Department of Transportation has reportedly responded to the board’s request to revise the design of the new pedestrian bridge over LaPan Highway, but village officials didn’t seem satisfied with the changes.

DOT officials said in March they had designed a new bridge similar to the one that was razed after being hit twice by heavy equipment being pulled on a trailer. The new design – a concrete and steel beam span with galvanized fencing along its sides – didn’t sit well with the board, which called on the state to come up with a more attractive bridge for one of the major gateways to the community.

Mayor Clyde Rabideau said Monday the DOT has since come back with some changes.

“They said they would change the color of concrete to beige, and the galvanized, jail-like, chain-link fence would be changed to brown, or green,” Rabideau said.

Sweeney said Friday he’s not sure how soon the new bridge will be erected and whether there will be any additional changes to the design.

Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or