Village board to consider rezoning for Lake Flower hotel project

SARANAC LAKE – The village board agreed Monday night to consider rezoning a section of Lake Flower shoreline to help reduce the number of regulatory hurdles Chris LaBarge has to go through to build a hotel there.

LaBarge, a Malone-based developer who was instrumental in building the Holiday Inn Express in the Franklin County seat, told the village board Monday night that it would likely be quicker for him to start building if he’s granted a planned unit development district.

LaBarge announced plans in late July to buy three existing hotels on the shore of Lake Flower, demolish them and build a five-story, 90-room hotel in their place. He has formed a company called Lake Flower Lodging LLC for the project.

He noted that he has to work with the state Adirondack Park Agency and departments of Environmental Conservation and Transportation, in addition to local permitting entities like the planning board. He might have to make changes to the project with each permit he’s granted, and he’s worried about being sent back to boards that already approved it due to the changes.

“It’s going to evolve,” LaBarge said.

A planned unit development district, or PUDD, would help streamline that process, LaBarge said.

“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 in a letter to the village.

He said he submitted variance requests recently to the village zoning board of appeals for things like the height of the hotel, the number of stories and its setback from the water. But he said if the PUDD is approved, he will rescind those requests, since they would be dealt with during the PUDD process.

LaBarge said he has several meetings planned over the next few days with representatives of DOT, DEC and APA, as well as the village, to talk about various aspects of the project. He said he’s gotten “very positive” responses from all three state agencies so far.

Village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans told the village board that this would be the first PUDD approved under a law passed by the village in October 2011.

Trustee Allie Pelletieri said he hopes the village board can discuss ways to make sure that everyone who applies for a PUDD is treated fairly. He said he’s concerned that it may appear that the village is only granting them to people with projects that village officials like.

“I wouldn’t want it to look like spot zoning,” Pelletieri said. “I think we’re going to see more of this.”

“I hope we do,” Evans said, calling PUDDs a good tool that many communities use for projects of this scope.

According to the resolution approved by the board, the PUDD application will be forwarded to the village’s planning board once Evans has all the information he needs for it.

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or