TUPPER LAKE - The debate on whether the village should pave Amell Lane hasn't gone away.
Roger Amell and his father bought the land in the Junction neighborhood and developed it with houses a little over a decade ago. They never paved the road, Amell Lane, and residents there have complained that the street is too covered in potholes for school buses and mail carriers to drive down it. Last year, Amell asked the village to pave and maintain it.
The road has been a topic of discussion for the village board ever since, with some village leaders saying the village has no place taking control of the road or paving it, and others saying the residents there pay taxes and deserve a paved road.
Amell Lane is the center of a debate between co-owner Roger Amell and the town board.
(Enterprise photo — Brittany Proulx)
(Enterprise file photo)
Leon LeBlanc, Tupper Lake village trustee
(Enterprise file photo)
Tom Snyder, Tupper Lake village trustee
(Enterprise file photo)
A decision still hasn't been made, and that didn't change at last week's village board meeting, but an end might finally be in sight.
Trustee Leon LeBlanc brought the issue up again, saying it's time the village finally took action. He proposed a motion to have the village attorney forge an agreement with Amell so the village can begin upgrading the road.
"We have to do something - get our attorneys and send whatever the proposal is supposed to be to Mr. Amell, get the OK, and start the work this year," LeBlanc said.
Trustee Tom Snyder maintained his stance against the village assuming responsibility for Amell Lane.
"Just by some hand-written), chicken-scratching letter that he (Amell) sends here wanting us to take over the road, it doesn't mean crap," Snyder said. "What you've got to do is, in a professional manner, let us know what land we're taking over. We haven't even been able to get that out of him."
Snyder was referring to a hand-written letter the village received from Amell on March 18, 2013, written on Amell Logging letterhead. In it Amell requested that the village take over Amell Lane as a village road.
"I have invested approximately $60,000 in the infrastructure of Amell Lane with 550 feet of 8 (inch) sewer line and two (2) manholes, 550 feet of 6 (inch) water line and two (2) fire hydrants along with 600 feet of graveled road," Amell wrote.
Snyder, LeBlanc and Mayor Paul Maroun said they have tried to reach a compromise with Amell, to no avail.
"Roger Amell does not want to budge on anything on the road," Snyder said. "We're taking a private piece of property, and supposedly - we went through this 100 times - he was supposed to put in a road for these people, but he never did. Now we're putting in, at the expense of the taxpayer, for something that was promised to these people when they bought those houses. How many times do we have to paint the big red 'S' on the taxpayers' chests so they have to bear the brunt of the costs that they shouldn't be? We've even tried to negotiate with him, and he doesn't want to have nothing to do with it."
LeBlanc said he feels sorry for the people of Amell Lane, who have been paying taxes and should therefore receive services.
Village Clerk Mary Casagrain reminded the board that both state law and the village's policies state that the village board can decide whether to pay for the work, make the developer pay for the work, or agree to a split between the two.
"Our local policy says, if it's going to be turned over to the village, it has to have sidewalks, and it has to have lighting," Casagrain said. "Right now there's no sidewalk, and there's no lighting."
Snyder said he wants a new local law that says a parcel of land has to be surveyed, at no expense to the village, before building permits can be issued.
"As a village, we were stupid to begin with," Snyder said. "We never should have allowed a building permit down there until the roads were up to standard and everything else was in. Everywhere else, that's what they do, but here we go on the good-boy theory, and we pat them on the back and we let them do what they're going to do. This is why you have these stipulations. We wouldn't be talking about this if it was done right to begin with."
Town Code Enforcement Officer Paul O'Leary, covering for his village counterpart Pete Edwards who is on leave, later clarified that the code enforcement officer, not the planning board, issues building permits.
Resident Ron LaScala, who was actively participating in the board meeting, suggested adding an amendment to LeBlanc's motion that would guarantee the village recovers money it spends on improvements to the road. Snyder responded that Amell would say he's already put about $60,000 in infrastructure in there.
"That's part of being a developer," LaScala said. "It's just a way for the village to say, 'We're not going to give you another permit to build another house down there until we get paid back for the money we put in there.'"
Maroun liked a portion of LaScala's idea and said the village needs to designate a boundary for the work it's willing to do and refuse to cross that line.
Maroun also agreed with Snyder and said the board would look at tightening the local policy at next month's meeting so incidents like this never happen again.
"We are going to have to send Mr. Amell a letter from our attorney," Maroun said. "We want this portion surveyed, and then we'll have to delineate a boundary so we can get an appropriate line, and he's going to have to agree to that. The village isn't going to pay for the surveying. If he doesn't do that, it's incumbent on the people down there to get after Mr. Amell, because we don't know what we're doing down there."
LeBlanc's motion and Maroun's amendment each passed with a 3-2 vote, with Snyder and Trustee Rick Donah voting against them.
Amell did not return several phone messages left by the Enterprise.
Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.