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Mayor’s Duprey Street development reduced from townhouses to duplex

This notice was how residents of a Duprey Street property found out about the development plans that may force them to find new housing. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

SARANAC LAKE — Village Mayor Clyde Rabideau is again scaling down his development plans on Duprey Street after neighbors and residents panned the project.

Rabideau’s plans to build four, then three townhouses at a 0.45-acre lot he owns at the intersection of Duprey Street and Tara Drive have been reduced to a two-unit duplex.

Cedar Ridge Holdings Inc. is the landowning company, and Rabideau Corp. would be the contracting company. Both are owned by Rabideau.

In a letter to village Development Code Administrator Paul Blaine, Cedar Ridge Holdings representative Keith Braun withdrew the existing applications and submitted new ones. The letter states that this was done “in deference to neighborhood concerns and recommendations.”

For weeks, residents showed up to public comment sessions at Development Board meetings and wrote numerous letters to the editor. One obtained the legal services of a lawyer. They believed the project would have been too big for the lot and would have changed the character of the area.

Braun hopes the neighbors will be happy with the latest plans. At a village board meeting Monday, Duprey Street resident Walter McClure said he was “pleased” to hear about the design changes.

This is the third iteration of the project. After feedback from the neighbors earlier this year, Cedar Ridge had reduced the plans from four townhouses to three.

“I feel we’ve continued to compromise,” Braun said.

He said the duplex will still fulfill the project’s goal of adding to the housing inventory, but he said it is hard to say if it will be a less profitable development.

“It’s really another evolution of the project,” Braun said.

To build townhouses in this neighborhood’s zoning district — District A-2 — developers needed a special use permit from the Development Board. The new designs show two units in a duplex design, which is allowable in the district.

The project would still require a variance for its subdivision into two lots, as the initial lot is just short of the 20,000 square feet required and will need a 407-square foot variance.

The three units would have had a combined footprint of 2,640 square feet. This duplex would have a total footprint of 2,184 square feet.

Construction would still involve removing a cabin and a converted trailer dwelling, but would leave an existing single-story, two-bedroom home in the back of the property. Some tenants renting from Rabideau at the property have worried about finding a place to live if they have to move to make way for the development.

Braun said they are still planning for a phased development, to allow the resident of the converted trailer more time to live there and find a new home.

In Phase 1, the cabin on the property would be demolished and one unit would be built. In Phase 2, the trailer would be demolished and the second unit would be built.

The application asks for a review of the project by the Development Board at its next meeting because of the amount of public commentary on the project. Residents were asking the board to reject the permit. The board never got to vote on this, though.

It was scheduled to take a vote at its June 1 meeting, but due to the paperwork still showing four townhouses instead of three, they chose to tentatively postpone the vote until a July 6 meeting.

Two members of the board were going to recuse themselves from the vote because of familial connections with Rabideau. Bob Bevilacqua is the mayor’s brother-in-law, and C.J. Hagmann is the mayor’s nephew through Rabideau’s wife Janie (Bevilacqua).

Hagmann resigned from the board last week to spend more time on his personal life.

Future of townhouses

Several neighbors and other village residents have said they worry that if the Development Board allowed this permit, it would set a precedent for more townhouses to be allowed in similar neighborhoods. The village is considering creating a path for more projects like this in the future.

Blaine said there are “deficiencies” in the village’s code regarding townhouses.

At the Monday village board meeting, McClure asked the village to impose a moratorium on townhouses until it updates its zoning code to include design standards for townhouses.

“Set the standards first, before allowing any other applicants to take advantage of the fact that the code does not currently necessarily protect the best interests of the village,” McClure said.

On Tuesday, Rabideau said he feels this is a “moot point” now that his application has been pulled.

“There’s nobody asking to build townhouses right now,” he said.

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