Neighbors oppose rezoning for condos on Lake Placid shoreline
LAKE PLACID — Neighbors of a property on the shore of Lake Placid, where a local family plans to build new condominiums, attended a public hearing on Wednesday to voice their opposition to rezoning that would allow the family to build taller buildings and give them more flexible setback requirements.
Rich Kroes and Katrina Lussi Kroes, of Lake Placid, through Lake Placid Marina Corp. LLC, submitted the rezoning request to the town-village review board. If approved, the request would effectively change the zoning for three of their properties on George and Bliss Lane and on Mirror Lake Drive from “South Lake Residential District” (in the town of North Elba, outside of the village) and “Village Residential” (inside village boundaries) to “Planned Development District.”
Planned Development District zoning would allow Lake Placid Marina Corp. to construct buildings up to 45 feet tall rather than a maximum of 30 feet tall, and they’d have more flexibility when it comes to the setbacks they’d need when planning the location of their condominiums, according to town-village Code Enforcement Officer Michael Orticelle.
The state Adirondack Park Agency could ultimately take jurisdiction over the project because it’s on the water.
With the public hearing now done, the review board will issue its opinion on this rezoning request, and the Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees and the North Elba Town Council will likely take a vote on the applicants’ rezoning request at their next meetings in August, according to Orticelle.
If the rezoning request is approved by both boards, the applicants could then come back to the review board at a later date with more detailed construction plans for the rezoned properties. If the APA takes jurisdiction, that would add another layer of review.
The third floor meeting room of the North Elba Town Hall was packed with residents during the public hearing on Wednesday.
The review board’s public hearing included both the North Elba Town Council and the Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees to cut down on the number of public hearings that would be required before the applicants would hear the results of their request.
One of the applicants, Rich Kroes, offered a brief comment before the hearing opened. He outlined what properties were nearby the site where he hopes to build the new condo buildings and noted that as they consider setbacks for the new buildings, they’d like to be mindful of neighbors’ views of Lake Placid.
“We want to make sure to work around that,” he said.
Neighbors of the properties urged the review board to reject the rezoning request.
Lawyer Claudia Braymer, who is representing one of the neighbors, said her clients are concerned about their viewshed.
“Without more information being made available to board and to the public, we’re asking that the current proposed PDD be denied and that the review board issue a negative recommendation,” she said.
Braymer noted that there’s no plan of development for one of the lots, which is within village boundaries. She argued that for a variety of reasons, she believes this project “does not meet the requirements for PDD.” She also said that this project isn’t in line with the town’s Comprehensive Plan, because it would not be a low intensity, low impact development along the shoreline and it would not be a single-family or two-family home. She also questioned whether any of the buildings would include affordable or senior housing.
“Not only are there private restrictions against impeding the view of the residents of the Harbor Lane condos, the boards here tonight all have an obligation under SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review), your shoreline overlay district regulations and your code for PDDs to protect the views and the privacy of neighboring property owners, to protect the aesthetics from Mirror Lake Drive, and to protect the views of the shoreline from the lake,” Braymer said.
One neighbor, Barbara Brox, wrote in a comment submitted to the review board that when she purchased her unit on Harbor Lane from Lake Placid Marina Corp. “it clearly says that no development can obstruct our view of Lake Placid afforded.”
“The proposed building, which would be allowed by this zoning change, will definitely do that,” Brox said.
She added that she was told when she purchased her unit that “an additional 12 units may be constructed, not two buildings with a total of 24 units, as proposed, if the zoning were allowed to be changed.”
Brox also outlined her concerns about increased density, traffic congestion, possible noise and light pollution, as well as concerns about the development possibly not conforming to the character of the neighborhood and the possibility that approving a Planned Development District would permit the applicants to construct or add other things that would otherwise not be allowed.
Lake Placid resident Bill Hurley, a former 22-year member of the review board and past review board chairman, wrote that he, too, is against the zoning change.
“There has not been a new condo built on Mirror Lake Drive for some 35 years,” he wrote. “Many nice, new single-family homes have been built and screened from the public’s view. Most well under 30 feet tall. Let’s keep it this way.”
He urged the review board, if it were to approve the change, to set conditions on what can be proposed at the site in the future.
“Let’s be honest, the Lake Placid Marina (Corp.) is asking for a law change, and usually laws are changed for the benefit of the community,” he wrote. “I do not see any benefit for the community in this request.
“They are asking to increase the height of buildings allowed by 50%, and an unlimited number of units, but if you go by their projected plan, it is a change from three units to 24 units, an increase of 600%,” he added. “If you are so inclined to approve this law change, I would suggest that now is the time to put restrictions on the PD district so when they do present a formal application to develop the property, they know what they must abide by.”
The three Lake Placid Marina Corp. properties are a combined 3.69 acres, according to planning documents. They’re located by the Lake Placid Marina and the state boat launch. They’re also next to a set of 12 condominiums previously built by Lake Placid Marina Corp.
Lake Placid Marina Corp. plans to build two condominium buildings with approximately 18 units, plus a smaller structure along Mirror Lake Drive with an additional six units, according to planning documents.
Historically, the properties have housed a bar, restaurant, a theater building, an office, a boat storage area and an ancillary building, according to planning documents.
One of the properties includes a building that currently houses the Helping Hands Thrift Shop, which was founded by Linda Young in 1992. Young confirmed that the thrift shop will need to find a new location with the development of the condos.
“We will definitely be closing,” Young said earlier this week. “The building is extremely old. We’re very grateful for having it as long as we’ve had.”
The new condo buildings would be designed with retention drainage to retain stormwater onsite. Parking would be included underneath one of the condo buildings, and the applicants hope to beautify the existing parking area on site and add more green space, according to the documents.
The style and color of the buildings would likely be similar to the Hampton Inn & Suites on Mirror Lake Drive, according to the case materials. The Hampton Inn, owned by the Lussi family, has a dark brown facade with red trim around the windows.