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Local residents, including Lindy Ellis, right, and Ginger Dora, center, listen to a presentation Wednesday night during a public hearing in the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake on a proposed 90-room Lake Flower hotel. Photo: Chris Knight, courtesy <em>Adirondack Daily Enterprise</em>
Local residents, including Lindy Ellis, right, and Ginger Dora, center, listen to a presentation Wednesday night during a public hearing in the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake on a proposed 90-room Lake Flower hotel. Photo: Chris Knight, courtesy Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Saranac Lake residents weigh in Lake Flower hotel project

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The first in a series of public hearings on a major hotel project proposed in Saranac Lake was held Wednesday night in the village. Lake Flower Lodging LLC wants to build a four-story, 80,000-square foot upscale resort hotel on the site of three small motels on Lake Flower.

The project recently won $2 million in state economic development funding. However, local residents have raised concerns about the height of the building along the village's picturesque shoreline.

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Reported by

Chris Knight
Adirondack Correspondent

This architectural rendering of a proposed 90-room, 60-foot-tall hotel on Lake Flower, presented at Wednesday night’s Saranac Lake planning board meeting, shows how it would look from the lake. Image: VIP Architectural Associates
This architectural rendering of a proposed 90-room, 60-foot-tall hotel on Lake Flower, presented at Wednesday night’s Saranac Lake planning board meeting, shows how it would look from the lake. Image: VIP Architectural Associates

Ginger Dora was the first person to step to the podium at Wednesday night’s hearing in the Harrietstown Town Hall. She lives on a hill across the street from the proposed hotel.

“We do have lake views, beautiful lake views (of Lake Flower) at this time that we will be losing with the height of the proposed project,” she said.

The size of the nearly 60-feet tall and 300-feet long hotel, given where it would sit on three-acres along the lakeshore, has been the biggest issue surrounding the project. The building’s design is meant to mimic the architecture of historic Adirondack hotels, but Lee Gaillard said it still doesn’t work.

"The straight roofline and four-story height - it's an uninterrupted expanse and tends not to look like a resort destination," he said. "I won't say it looks like a barracks, but some kind of change in design as you go along that long expanse might help."

Alan Brown called the building "kind of monolithic.”  A proposal to create offsite parking nearby would also lead to traffic and pedestrian safety issues, he said.

"There really needs to be a challenge to the developers as to whether they can make it work one story lower without offsite parking," he said.

While there weren’t as many voices in support of the project at Wednesday’s hearing, several people, including Frank Brownell, spoke in favor of it at a planning board comment session earlier this month.

"How much space do you need on the lake to see? You've got lake all around," Brownell said. "There's 6 million acres of woods here. I don't think this building is massive. I think it's overdue. We need something here. There's nothing here, nothing driving the economy."

Lake Flower Lodging is asking the village to rezone the land where the hotel would be built to a planned unit development district, a lengthy and complicated process that involves review by both the village planning board and the village Board of Trustees.

There wasn’t much discussion among village board members, who will have the final say, although one trustee, Allie Pellietieri, said he was disappointed that an out-of-state company, would build the hotel. He also wondered if the developers will seek a tax break.

"Under no circumstances will I vote in favor of this if they're going to get $2 million from the taxpayers, new zoning, a company out of town to build it and then ask us to reduce the taxes on them," Pelletieri said.

Lake Flower Lodging partner Jacob Wright, a Syracuse developer and seasonal Lake Placid resident, wouldn't say whether the company would seek a tax break. Even though an out-of-state company would be the general contractor, Wright said they would hire local subcontractors to do the work.

Asked if the height or size of the hotel could be reduced, Wright said a smaller hotel wouldn’t fit the economics of the project.

“I understand four stories is a big issue, wanting to bring it down to three stories,” he said. “I don’t know how that will change the visual impact. Obviously if you’re driving on the road, a one-story building is going to block your view. It’s going to matter how the visibility analysis comes in, but it takes the project out of being feasible. We just can’t do it.”

The village board agreed Wednesday night to approve a sketch plan for the hotel, allowing the company to move into the final application stage for the rezoning, which will include another public hearing. The Adirondack Park Agency would also have to approve the project.

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