Hotel developer seeks zoning change

SARANAC LAKE – The developer of a proposed five-story hotel on Lake Flower is now asking the village to consider rezoning the properties he’s under contract to buy as a planned unit development district.

The village Board of Trustees will consider the request at a special meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. tonight in the village offices.

If granted, it would mean a series of land-use code variances Chris LaBarge of Lake Flower Lodging had requested for the hotel project, including for the height of the building, wouldn’t come before the village Zoning Board of Appeals. Instead those issues would be taken up during the planned unit development district process.

LaBarge wants to build an upscale 90-room hotel on the site of three Lake Flower Avenue motels: the Lake Flower Inn, the Adirondack Motel and the Lake Side Motel. He submitted an application for a planned unit development district to the village on Friday, according to village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans. The resolution the board will take up tonight is just to consider his application, he explained.

“It’s not approving it or anything,” Evans said. “It’s saying, ‘Is this worthy of our consideration as a project.’ It’s saying, ‘Yes. We’ll look at it.'”

The village added language to its land-use code in 2011 that allowed for the creation of planned unit development districts. Evans said the process involves review by the village board and the planning board.

“The application goes to the planning board first for review and an advisory opinion on a sketch plan, then back to the village board for approval,” Evans said. “Then it goes back to the planning board for the final review and opinion and back to the village board for final approval. This is basically (LaBarge) asking, ‘Will you start that process for me.'”

In a Friday letter to Mayor Clyde Rabideau and the village board, LaBarge wrote that the project will be subject to a complicated review process by village and state agencies. After reviewing each agency’s regulations, he said he determined the PUDD process would be the most effective way to review the project.

“The PUDD provides flexibility to make the needed changes as requested by the different agencies and allows coordination by the planning board, who will make an advisory recommendation on the project to the village board for a final decision,” LaBarge wrote.

A draft resolution approving the request for PUDD consideration is on the village board’s agenda tonight. It says, “The village seeks to avoid duplication of effort and multiple levels of decision making, and to ensure optimum design and review of the proposal as a whole, with full public participation and timely decision making.”

While Thursday’s ZBA meeting may be cancelled if the village board agrees to move forward with the PUD process, Evans said LaBarge still wants to have an informal meeting with the planning board. That meeting is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the village offices.

The hotel project would cost between $15 million and $18 million, and LaBarge has said he is seeking both public and private financing.

Another resolution on the agenda for tonight’s special meeting would add the village board’s support to LaBarge’s application for state funding through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. The application deadline is Aug. 12.

The agenda for tonight’s special meeting, including a copy of LaBarge’s PUDD application, is posted on To view it, click on the link for “Latest Village Board Agenda.”

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or