Crescent Bay buyer plans new marina

SARANAC LAKE – Crescent Bay Marina on Lower Saranac Lake is under contract to be sold to an out-of-state developer who wants to add a new 52-slip dock system to the property.

The state Adirondack Park Agency, however, says the covered floating dock system proposed by Wilmington, Del.-based CB Marina LLC would be, under its definitions, a boathouse and would be too large to be built without a variance.

“We found that inconceivable,” said Mike Damp of Lake Placid, CB Marina’s real estate agent on the deal. “We’ve decided to file a request for a declaratory ruling from the (APA) executive director and general counsel. That’s where we currently are.”

Built in 1925, the marina (known then as Crescent Bay Camps) was started by Harry Duso and later run by his son Don, until he died in January 2010. The property, which includes two marinas – one on Crescent Bay, another on Ampersand Bay – plus several houses and rental cabins, was eventually put up for sale with an asking price of $2.6 million.

In January of this year, Florida-based Crescent Bay Holdings LLC, which had an outstanding loan to the marina, took title to the property. In August, it signed an agreement to sell it to CB Marina for $2,050,000. The Enterprise obtained a copy of the sale agreement and other documents the company submitted to the APA through a Freedom of Information Law request.

CB Marina, according to the documents, wants to build a 316-foot-long-by-52-foot wide covered floating dock system that would sit in the lake across from the current boat livery. It would include 26 double boat slips that could accommodate up to 52 boats. The proposed floating dock system would have a total dock area of 4,472 square feet and a roof area of 17,064 feet.

Damp said the new facility is needed. He said many of the existing buildings and docks at the marina are old and in rough shape.

“There’s a lot of work to do there,” he said. “We’re just trying to improve the property and have good access for the town.”

In a Sept. 10 letter to the company’s consultant on the project, Kevin Franke of the Saratoga Springs-based LA Group, APA project administrator Doug Miller said the project would require a variance. Miller said the building would have to comply with the agency’s boathouse definition, which says a boathouse is a covered structure with direct access to a navigable body of water and, among other things, doesn’t exceed 1,200 square feet in size, a limit that was enacted by the APA in 2010.

“Since it’s covered, it would qualify as a boathouse, and since it exceeds 1,200 square feet, it would need an APA shoreline structure variance,” APA spokesman Keith McKeever wrote in an email.

Damp says the project is a marina and that the agency shouldn’t apply the boathouse definition.

“We just think it’s inconceivable that you could think that a 52-slip floating dock system with a canopy is a 1,200-square-foot boathouse,” Damp said. “We’re looking to see what the definition is of marina versus residential boathouse.”

Asked if the issue could affect the pending sale of the property, Damp said there are deadlines approaching, though he wouldn’t give any more specifics.

“We’re looking to see what the answer is with the APA, and hopefully we hear some good news, but beyond that, I don’t have much comment regarding our contract,” he said.

In recent weeks, the Enterprise has been contacted by several current Crescent Bay customers who say they’ve heard rumors that the potential new owners want to develop the property and turn it into a private club, and who fear they would lose their boat slips and access to the lake.

“Our clients have expressed an interest in making sure the marina stays what it is,” said Doug Oesch, Crescent Bay’s current manager. “We’ve heard the rumors like everybody else. They have not shared their plans with us at all.”

Damp said the company has “plans to improve the property, but until we get back from the APA, we don’t know what they’ll let us do.

“We want a marina at both sites so the public has access to the lakes,” Damp said. “That’s what we’re looking to do. Beyond that, it hasn’t gotten that far.”

The company spearheading this project, CB Marina LLC, is headed by Michael J. Connolly, who’s also the chief operating officer of Stoltz Real Estate Partners, a company run by Delaware real estate developer Keith Stoltz. Stoltz owns several properties in Lake Placid and has butted heads in the past with local officials over land-use issues.

In 2010, Stoltz filed an application to build a one-story, 32-foot long boathouse on Mirror Lake behind the Alpine Meadow building, which he owns. The Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board approved his permit but limited the length of the boathouse to 20 feet and said it couldn’t be used for commercial purposes.

Stoltz sued the town and the village. In June of last year, Essex County State Supreme Court Judge Richard Meyer overturned the board’s decision to limit the size of the boathouse, but upheld the condition that the structure be limited to non-commercial use. A platform has since been built on the lake but the boathouse has yet to be constructed.

Stoltz also upset neighbors and shoreline property owners on Lake Placid in the summer of 2010 when he put in piers for a 5,500-square-foot, nine-slip boat house on the lake at the site of a former children’s camp he purchased, Camp Woodsmoke, just before the APA’s 1,200-square foot limit took effect. The boathouse has yet to be built.

Stoltz didn’t return messages left Thursday at his Delaware office and with his son Jason, who co-owns Smoke Signals restaurant in Lake Placid. Asked if Stoltz is involved in the Crescent Bay project, Damp said it is headed up by Connolly and otherwise declined to comment.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or