Rabideau looks for planning board review before college contract

SARANAC LAKE – Mayor Clyde Rabideau’s building company is looking to go through village planning board review without knowing for sure if his new office building will be affiliated with North Country Community College.

The project was before the village planning board in a pre-application conference Wednesday night, and planners expressed concern about how to evaluate it without knowing what the use will be.

Susan Rdzanek, administrative and technical assistant to Rabideau, presented preliminary plans for the project. At the beginning of the month, NCCC announced plans for Rabideau’s company, Cedar Ridge Holdings Inc., to build a welcome center on Lake Flower Avenue, but Rdzanek said the company isn’t under contract for that yet. So she presented the project as an office building rather than a college welcome center.

She said the company plans to submit a formal application to the planning board next week.

Planning board Chairwoman Leslie Karasin said there are some concerns with reviewing the project and not knowing whether it will be affiliated with the college or not. For one, it would mean the difference between commercial or institutional use, which are separate in the village’s land-use code. For another, the project includes a new connector road between Santanoni and Lake Flower avenues, and Karasin said she doesn’t see any reason for that road unless the office building is affiliated with the college.

Rdzanek said she doesn’t see any harm in putting the application in now.

“I think it’s just a first step in the process,” she said.

She said she doesn’t believe the site plan would change much whether the project is affiliated with the college or not.

According to the plans Rdzanek presented, the project would be built on two lots. One, on Colony Court, is currently owned by the Duffy family, and one, on Lake Flower Avenue, is owned by the Foster family. Three residential buildings are there now: the Duffys’ house on their lot and two rented houses on the Foster lot.

The new building is set to be two stories, reaching 30 feet tall and covering 4,200 square feet, and would include 13 parking spaces in front.

Karasin asked when Cedar Ridge Holdings expects to find out whether it will be awarded the college contract.

“I don’t really have an idea, because I think that’s more in the hands of how the college moves on it,” Rdzanek told her.

Planning board member Scott Stoddard said the building’s impact on traffic flow would have a lot to do with whether the building is affiliated with the college.

“It does make a difference,” Stoddard said.

Karasin asked Rdzanek whether the building will be built regardless of the college connection, or if it’s totally dependent on whether the company gets a contract with NCCC. If its only possible use would be a college welcome center, that would be reviewed differently than if the board has to consider a variety of possible future uses and tenants, Karasin said.

Rdzanek said she didn’t want to make an assumption, but she would find out the answer.

Karasin said if the planning board has to review the project without knowing whether it will be affiliated with the college, the board will have to plan for the most intensive use possible.

Planning board members asked questions like why the parking lot is planned for the front of the building, noting that it might be better for visibility and consistency with the rest of the neighborhood to put parking in the back.

Karasin encouraged Rdzanek to consider the Saranac Lake cure cottage architectural style rather than the generic Adirondack style the building is currently designed in. Karasin noted the college’s admissions building and a neighboring business, Janie’s For Hair, are both in that style.

Rdzanek took notes on all the questions, and Community Development Director Jeremy Evans said he would send her a list of the questions the board had as well so Cedar Ridge Holdings can work on putting together some answers.

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or