Mount Pisgah slope deemed too steep for some development

SARANAC LAKE — Village trustees reached a compromise on new zoning for development of the steep slopes on Mount Pisgah’s southern face Monday night, taking into account the concerns of environmentalists and residents.

Richard Weber, who lives on Old Military Road and said new development would most likely happen in properties near or adjacent to his, said the southeast and southwest slopes of Mount Pisgah are a unique habitat and environmentally sensitive.

“I had submitted a slope map for this area,” said Weber, who came equipped with detailed maps of the area. Due to the very steep slope, Weber said the access to the area would have to be from the end of Old Military Road or the other end of Mountain Lane.

The grade varies to as much as 25 percent, so establishing a roadway with a safe grade would require a deep cut into the mountainside, said Weber.

“Townhouses and multi-family dwellings in this setting is, in my opinion, inappropriate,” said Weber. “They would create access problems, excessive grading and stormwater problems. I would prefer limited residential [housing]. I think the area is not suitable for the level of intensity of multi-family dwellings.”

Mayor Clyde Rabideau jumped on the single-family dwelling idea. “I tend to agree with Mr. Weber on the multi-family units,” he said.

“In practical terms, nobody’s going to put a road there,” said Rabideau.

Morgan Perkins, who also lives on Old Military Road, said at least 50 percent of his property is adjacent to the developable parcels. “What right would I have as a property owner to object to a project?” he asked.

Trustee Paul Van Cott said provisions of the code as it stands allow for neighbors “to participate in any operation and challenge it. The village would have to reach some accommodation with you.”

However, said Van Cott, it’s very difficult for a developer to get a variance for the use of the parcel. In other words, if the parcel is zoned single-family, it would be unlikely a developer could get a variance for a multi-family unit.

After some discussion, the zoning change was amended to restrict development to single-family dwellings in the steep slope area. Code officer Paul Blaine said he’ll send the proposed zoning changes to the Essex County planning board next. If they’re approved, there will be another public hearing before the changes become law.