Hurley Bros. withdraws propane proposal

Neighbor who opposed plan bought property

The site where Lake Placid-based fuel company Hurley Bros. proposed installing a propane fuel tank filling station is seen in April. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

LAKE PLACID — A controversial proposal to install a propane tank refilling station on Old Military Road has been withdrawn from consideration after an opponent of the plan purchased the property where the station was set to be built.

K. Jon Runstrom, a resident of the neighboring Balsams at Lake Placid housing community and treasurer of its homeowners’ association, purchased the 132 Old Military Road parcel where the Lake Placid-based fuel company Hurley Bros. had proposed installing a 53-by-11-foot propane tank. He bought the property from Andre Karl last week after hearing that the land was still on the market.

Runstrom declined to say how much he paid for the property, and the price was not available from the Essex County clerk’s office because the deed transfer had not yet been processed.

Runstrom said there was only one reason why he purchased the property.

“To stop the Hurley application to install a 36,000-gallon propane tank,” he said. “It seemed to be the last resort.”

Runstrom said that tank would’ve been 80 feet from his backyard.

He said he has no immediate plans for the future of the property.

“I thought it was really, at this point, the only way to prevent that tank from being installed at that location,” he said. “I just don’t think the idea was an appropriate one.”

The land purchase, and the subsequent withdrawal of the application to build the station by Lake Placid-based fuel company Hurley Bros., appears to mark the end of a more than eight-month-long saga. Neighbors opposed the plan for several reasons, including potential safety and quality-of-life impacts.

Hurley Bros. co-owner Bill Hurley confirmed that the land purchase was why his company withdrew its proposal.

“The owner of the property sold it to someone else,” he said.

A representative of Hurley Bros. notified the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board of the withdrawal via email, according to Planning and Zoning Coordinator Terry Tubridy. That email — and the sale — came just a few days before a second public hearing was scheduled, to allow residents another chance to weigh in on new material the company had submitted.

Hurley, who serves as chairman of the Joint Review Board but recused himself while the project was under consideration, said his company would consider starting the process over at another location. Right now, the company rents propane tanks at a Hyde Fuel facility in Ray Brook. It only has oil tanks at its location on Station Street in Lake Placid.

“In the future, if we can find some land, it’s always an option,” Hurley said.

The deed for the property, which was owned by Jack Vitvitsky in the early 2000s, had not yet been transferred as of Monday, according to the Essex County clerk’s office. Andre Karl is the last listed owner of the property. Attempts to contact him, seeking clarity on why he decided to sell the parcel to Runstrom, were unsuccessful.

Residents who live near the former proposed site are hailing the property sale as a win for their community.

Judy Murphy, a resident of Balsams and opponent of the plan, characterized the property sale as a “fairytale ending” to the controversy. She said she hopes this result, and the preceding months-long battle over the proposal, ignites a broader community discussion about the town’s zoning guidelines and ways that neighborhood protections could be built into the local land-use code.

“It was frankly just a relief,” she said of the property sale. “You hope you’re going to prevail with facts and public pressure. … To have an angel step in and say, ‘I’m going to buy this property’ — it almost never happens. What Jon did for the community was incredibly remarkable and generous.”


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