Crescent Bay Marina lawyer says annexation is impossible

SARANAC LAKE – An attorney for the company that wants to redevelop Crescent Bay Marina says the properties on Lower Saranac Lake can’t be annexed into the village of Saranac Lake.

LS Marina LLC wants to connect the properties to village water and sewer services, but under a 2010 village law, any new, out-of-village water or sewer service can only be extended to “lands that are part of the incorporated village.” That’s led to discussion among village officials about annexing the properties, which are located outside the village line in the town of Harrietstown.

However, in a Feb. 7 letter to the village Manager John Sweeney and village attorney Charles Noth, LS Marina lawyer Thomas Ulasewicz said property in New York can only be annexed if it adjoins or abuts the village boundary, citing a section of state General Municipal Law, a 1947 court case and a 1992 opinion from the state attorney general.

“It is undisputed that the LS Marina properties seeking to avail themselves of village water and sewer services are not contiguous to any of the village’s boundary and therefore cannot be annexed as a matter of law,” Ulasewicz wrote. “Having said that, please be assured that my client would very much like to avail itself of the village’s services as an out-of-district user.”

The letter was included in the agenda packet for Monday night’s village board meeting.

Mayor Clyde Rabideau said Thursday that he’s aware of the requirements of annexation under state law, and he said there may be a way to bring the village boundary up to the Crescent Bay properties so they adjoin. He said it’s been done in the past, when the village annexed a long corridor of land along state Route 3 to connect to its wastewater treatment plant property north of the village.

“Our attorney is drafting a letter to that effect suggesting we could also utilize the same method to annex the marina property,” Rabideau said. “This method is available. If we all work together, it can easily happen.

“It’s their call,” he added. “If they want our water and sewer, they have to be part of our village, and this is how you become part of our village.”

Without annexation, the village can’t provide the properties with water or sewer services because of the 2010 law, Rabideau said. The law was created as a way for the village to grow its tax base.

“That’s the whole point of this,” Rabideau said. “If we didn’t take this posture, we would have growth outside the village without any contribution to the village services that in reality do extend beyond village lines. All the core services are hosted within the village, and we have to support those. By growing our boundaries and growing our tax base, that’s what we’re doing.”

LS Marina, led by Mike Damp of Lake Placid, wants to turn Crescent Bay into a “state-of-the-art, green-built, eco-tourism marina and recreational center.”

The project involves two properties, both of which lie outside the village boundaries: the current 4.85-acre marina between state Route 3 and Lower Saranac Lake’s Crescent Bay, a site also known as Duso’s Crescent Bay, and a roughly 5-acre annex site at the end of Lake Street on the lake’s Ampersand Bay.

At the Crescent Bay property, LS Marina wants to replace the existing 70 slips and 12 moorings with a 175-slip floating dock system. The restaurant and operations center at the site would be renovated and refurbished, along with most of the existing homes and cabins that would be used as rentals.

At the Ampersand Bay property, the existing 80 boat slips would be replaced with 110 covered slips.

The project has seen a mix of both support and concern. Supporters, including existing Crescent Bay customers and some property owners on the lake, say the additional boat slips and revitalization of the marina are needed improvements that could provide an economic boost to the town.

But some lakefront property owners and some planning board members, and some who are both, have raised concerns about the scale of the project, namely the increase in the boat slips from 150 to 285, which they’ve said could lead to more congestion on the lake and more spreading of invasive species.

The project is now going through the site plan review process before the Harrietstown Planning Board. Town Code Enforcement Officer Ed Randig said Friday that the company’s application is also being reviewed by a third-party engineering firm and an outside attorney, which he said is routine for a project like this. LS Marina has set aside $10,000 in an escrow account to cover those costs, Randig said.

The planning board’s next meeting on the project is 6 p.m. March 12 in the lower level board room of the Harrietstown Town Hall, 39 Main St.

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