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APA OKs Saranac Lake Marina expansion, with conditions

Saranac Lake Marina’s Crescent Bay location is seen in November 2017. (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

SARANAC LAKE — The state Adirondack Park Agency approved a controversial wetland permit and shoreline variance for an expansion at the Saranac Lake Marina Friday, with an eight-to-one vote.

Chad Dawson, the one dissenting vote, had many questions about the project at a Thursday committee meeting. He said he did not want to rush to a decision with long-lasting implications and said not enough research has been done yet on the impact of this expansion on the environment.

The project takes place at two sites on Lower Saranac Lake, at Crescent Bay and an “Annex” property at Ampersand Bay. The project would increase the combined two properties’ ability to store boats by around one-third, from 219 boats to 292.

The project has been in the works for years, and the developers have worked with the APA to develop an approval that includes conditions that they take steps to improve the quality of the water and shoreline.

The developers could have done a project in this area without APA jurisdiction since the land is classified as hamlet, the most lenient APA land classification, but it fell under APA jurisdiction because they wanted the docks to have roof coverings.

Dawson’s major concern was whether the approval would increase the number of motorboats on the lake to the point that it impacts the water and its use.

The APA staff had recommended approving the application, saying the proposal with conditions is better for the environment than the current state of things.

Dawson mostly took issue with the staff’s statement that there would be no “undue adverse impact” of the project, saying that they had not studied that.

The staff’s PowerPoint said, “The project would not have an undue adverse impact upon the natural, scenic, aesthetic, ecological, wildlife, historic, recreational or open space resources of the park or upon the ability of the public to provide supporting facilities and services made necessary by the project. Staff believe that the proposal will reduce adverse impacts to the resources of the Park compared to the pre-existing conditions.”

Dawson said this is an opinion not backed up by research, and he disagrees with it.

The environmental improvements developers agreed to include removing 27,218 square feet of preexisting buildings from along the shoreline, removing barriers to wildlife movement on the shoreline, stabilize the shoreline and prevent erosion and sedimentation into the lake in a wetland vegetation area of 16,131 square feet which has grown in recent years, and adding a boat washing station.

The marina is owned by LS Marina LLC.

Two members of the APA’s 11-person board, Zoe Smith and Art Lussi, recused themselves from the decision.

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