Environmental review

SARANAC LAKE – The village will let the state Adirondack Park Agency do the heavy lifting when it comes to the environmental review of the proposed Lake Flower Spa and Resort.

The village Board of Trustees approved a resolution Monday that declares Lake Flower Lodging’s plan for a 93-room, four-story hotel on the lake a Type II action under the state’s Environmental Quality Review Act.

That means the village won’t have to conduct any additional environmental review of the project under SEQR, village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans told the board.

“The assumption is that when the Adirondack Park Agency reviews a project, the environmental review will be as stringent, if not more stringent, than what would occur under SEQR,” Evans said.

“This doesn’t mean that the village doesn’t care about the environmental review and quality of the project,” he added. “It’s something that’s very important. It just means the official review process of SEQR is not going to extend any further.”

Trustees approved the resolution in a 3-0 vote. Trustee Paul Van Cott, who works for the APA and has recused himself from any role in the review of the project, left the table when the resolution came up.

Lake Flower Lodging, led by Malone developer and real estate agent Chris LaBarge, has asked the village to rezone the Lake Flower Avenue properties where the hotel would be built as a planned development district. The village Board of Trustees conceptually approved the project in December. The company submitted a formal application to the village last month. It’s currently being reviewed by the village planning board, which will be tasked with issuing a recommendation to the village board on whether to approve the zoning change. If it’s approved, the project would then go through the planning board’s normal site plan review process.

The APA has jurisdiction over the project because the hotel would be taller than 40 feet, because it may require variances from the agency’s shoreline setback requirements, and because wetlands are involved.

LaBarge recently agreed to relocate the boat docks he has proposed along the lake after APA staff raised concerns about potential impacts to aquatic vegetation in Pontiac Bay, according to documents obtained by the Enterprise through a Freedom of Information Law request.

“During my examination it became apparent that the northern proposed dock needs to be moved out of Pontiac Bay,” Agency project analyst Mark Rooks wrote in a July 15 memo. “Boats approaching the dock would have to go through the emergent vegetation. Moreover, the bay is very shallow and the bottom is covered in loose organic sediment that will be stirred up by boat traffic and mobilized into Lake Flower proper.”

Rooks said the docks should be located where the water is deeper, or where there is a sandy bottom, or both.

In a July 29 submission, LaBarge wrote that he would relocate the docks “to minimize impact on underwater wetlands.” He said all identified wetlands on the property would be “minimally impacted by development and will be maintained in their existing condition” except to accommodate repairs to an existing retaining wall.

A stormwater pollution prevention plan has been submitted to the APA that, among other things, outlines plans to use “pervious pavement” for the hotel’s parking lot to reduce the amount of runoff that will go into the lake.