SARANAC LAKE - The village Planning Board has signed off on Clarkson University's plan to use the former site of Bling and what is now Cherrie Sayles' real estate office on Lake Flower Avenue as student housing and classroom space for its Adirondack semester program.
That was one of three projects the board approved at its Wednesday night meeting.
Board members also OK'd the village's plan to lease its Water Department building to the Lake Placid biotech firm Active Motif.
Taylor Rental of Plattsburgh also secured approval to run a rental and retail business in the former site of Olympic Tree and Land Management on upper Broadway.
Public hearings were held on each project, but there were no comments from the audience.
Clarkson plans to lease the former Bling at 237 Lake Flower Ave. and Sayles' neighboring real estate office to house students in its new Adirondack semester program.
"It's a semester of study for Clarkson students and for students from other universities to come and explore the Adirondack Park from Saranac Lake," Mike Dinan, the program's coordinator, told board members. "Particularly we're looking at the social and environmental sciences."
The two buildings will provide housing for up to 12 students, mostly juniors and seniors, who will use the property as a home base for their explorations of the Park. A garage on the former Bling property will be converted to a classroom. The facility will be used during the fall and spring semesters, and possibly for a couple weeks during the summer, Dinan said.
There are few changes planned to the outside of the buildings other than putting up a sign, Dinan said. He said there's ample parking, about a dozen spaces, on the two properties.
The board approved Clarkson's request for a special-use permit with several conditions, including a requirement to maintain screening of the garbage cans that will be put at the back of the property.
This is Clarkson's second foray into Saranac Lake. In 2010, the university opened a business center on River Street where it offers classes and high-tech meeting and work spaces, although in the fall it changed to being open occasionally rather than regularly.
Active Motif plans to move its laboratory, offices and eight employees to 17 Main St. by early November, once the village completes renovations to the Water Department building. It's one of two biotech firms relocating here from Lake Placid this year. Myriad RBM will relocate to the former village offices, which the village is also upgrading, on the other side of the Lake Flower dam.
Village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans said Active Motif is "bulging at the seams" in its current location, the basement of a health spa on Lake Placid's Saranac Avenue. To accommodate the company, the village is renovating a portion of the first floor and all of the second floor of the Water Department building, which Evans said was built in the late 1890s. Other than adding a sign, there will be no changes to the exterior of the building, Evans said.
Scott Paschke, Active Motif's director of business development, said his company produces research agents called antibodies that are used by drug development companies and academic researchers. The vials of antibodies, each of which can cost up to $300, are shipped to the company's headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., so "nobody will be walking in off the street to buy an antibody off the shelves," Paschke said.
Most of the equipment in the facility will be for refrigeration. Paschke said there's little usage of hazardous materials on site, and any biomedical waste produced by the business is hauled away by a private contractor.
The company currently has eight employees, and Paschke said they hope to add a couple more in the next year or two.
The village will set aside 10 parking spots in the municipal parking lot next to its old offices for Active Motif employees. It also plans to dedicate an on-street parking spot in front of the building for deliveries only from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday. Paschke said his business gets almost daily deliveries from FedEX and UPS.
The board's decision to approve the village's special-use permit for the project came with several conditions. A generator, trash cans and a propane tank behind the building must be screened from view. The board also required the village to provide a handicapped-accessible parking space in the closest possible location to the front of the building that won't require substantial infrastructure changes to the street.
Taylor Rental has recently purchased the former Olympic Tree and Land Management property at 372 Broadway and plans to run a construction equipment and party supply rental operation on the site, as well as a retail business that will sell construction supplies, lawnmowers, chainsaws and other equipment. It will use only part of the space in the main building; the other half will continue to be leased to Fastenal. Spencer Boatworks will also lease a warehouse building on the site for cold storage of boats.
The board's approval requires the company to replace part of the fence around the property, paint the building and seal and re-stripe its parking lot prior to opening in mid June. Among other conditions, a pole barn at the back of the site has to be closed in at the back and on the sides, to screen it from neighbors on Old Lake Colby Road, by Aug. 1.
Chris Akey, who owns and manages Taylor Rental in Plattsburgh, said the Saranac Lake store will employ about a half-dozen people. He said it made sense to open a site here because local residents had been asking him to do so for the last few years, and because he's frequently doing business in the area.