Skip Navigation
Regional News
Chris LaBarge describes an architectural rendering of his proposed 90-room hotel on Lake Flower at a Saranac Lake planning board meeting. Photo: Chris Knight, courtesy <em>Adirondack Daily Enterprise</em>
Chris LaBarge describes an architectural rendering of his proposed 90-room hotel on Lake Flower at a Saranac Lake planning board meeting. Photo: Chris Knight, courtesy Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Saranac Lake hotel stumbles over flood zone regs

Listen to this story
A Malone developer's plan to build a 90-room, four-story hotel in the Village of Saranac Lake has hit a major stumbling block.

Unless the federal government agrees to revise the designated flood zone around Lake Flower, the hotel that's been proposed on the lake's shoreline could be going nowhere.

Planning has ground to a halt as developer Chris LaBarge awaits a decision on whether the flood zone map for the lake can be revised.

Hear this

Download audio

Share this


Explore this

Reported by

Chris Knight
Adirondack Correspondent

LaBarge has said the $15 million to $18 million project would be "an icon that will define" Saranac Lake, although some residents have said it's too big for the site.

The biggest issue facing the project now, however, is that the three motels are located within the Lake Flower regulatory flood way or flood zone, as designated in a 1980s FEMA flood insurance study.

Under a local law the village enacted around 1990 but no new development is allowed in the flood zone without a permit that says the project will not affect downstream properties. It appears the law has rarely been enforced,

But Joe Garso, of North Woods Engineering and one of LaBarge's consultants on the project, says unless the flood map is changed, there's no way the proposed hotel could be built on the site of the three motels.

"Let's just say that if they wanted to keep the motels just the way they were, they could do that," Garso said. "That's not new development. But because (the proposed hotel) is a new footprint, a new development, then the law kicks in."

That's why LaBarge and Garso are pushing FEMA to revise the flood map for Lake Flower. Garso says it's flawed. Among other things, he says it didn't take into account the fact that the village installed two new flood gates in the Lake Flower Dam in 1987. He says those gates could release  more water, which means the elevation of the flood zone should be lower, "somewhere in the order of just installing the flood gates would lower the flood elevation between a foot and a half and two feet." If that happened, Garso says, "approximately half of the property would then be out of the flood zone." 

Even if FEMA agrees to revise the map, LaBarge has to decide if he'll pay for the new study. That would be significant, since it would have to take in the whole lakeshore, not just the properties where the hotel would be built.

Last fall, Lake Flower Lodging won $2 million in state economic development funding and in December received preliminary approval for a zoning change from the village Board of Trustees.

Work on the project appears to be at a standstill at this point. Garso says he isn't doing any additional work for LaBarge right now, adding, "This is something that's got to be addressed."

Visitor comments

on:

NCPR is supported by:

This is a Visitor-Supported website.