Saranac Lake land-use code hearing tonight

SARANAC LAKE – A public hearing will be held tonight on the village’s draft land-use code, but it’s not the last time local residents will get to weigh in on it.

That’s what village board members said Monday after a local resident questioned the timing of the meeting, saying it was being held without enough public notice. Caperton Tissot also said the village hasn’t done enough to make the draft code available for the public to review before the board approves it.

The public hearing tonight will be held at 7 p.m. in the Saranac Lake Free Library’s Cantwell Community Room. It’s hosted by the volunteer committee that’s been working for several years to draft a new code based on the comprehensive plan adopted by the village last year.

Tissot was under the impression that this would be the only hearing on the code. She said the only notice of it was in an article in the June 14 Enterprise, which was based on a press release from the village. The article mentioned that public comments are invited, but Tissot said the village hasn’t spelled out how long the public comment period will be on the code. She said the village should hold a second public hearing.

The village has placed a copy of the 267-page document in the library and posted a link to it on the village website, but there’s no mention of the public hearing on the website, Tissot noted. She also said there’s no way for the public to compare it to the current code, a full copy of which isn’t available on the website and isn’t available from the village clerk.

Trustee Paul Van Cott, who’s been working with the code committee, said a public informational meeting was held on the draft code last week. He said it’s still under review by the committee and isn’t up for adoption yet.

“There are a number of issues that committee members have raised, and there’s a very substantial likelihood that coming out of (tonight’s meeting) there will be more work that needs to be done by the committee,” he said.

Van Cott said the code will eventually come to the village board. The board will have its own review process that includes a public hearing and public comment period before it considers approving the document. He also offered to put Tissot on an email list of people who’ve been closely following the process.

Trustee Allie Pelletieri, who’s also been working with the committee, said he still has several “big questions” that need to be answered about the code.

“I’m not in favor of just rushing out with this,” he said. “I’ve worked on it for over four years, and I’ve got the patience to wait another four months, if that’s what it takes.”

Although he said he’s “not a computer guy,” Pelletieri said all the necessary documents, including the current code, need to be put on the village website for people to review.