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Loving Duprey Street

“I love Duprey Street.”

That was a comment Clyde Rabideau made at a High Peaks DSA Housing Rights meeting last month. The discussion topic was in reference to Mr. Rabideau’s special use permit application to build townhouses on a property he owns on Duprey Street. The residents of Duprey Street couldn’t agree more with Clyde’s comment. Many of them have lived there most, if not all, of their lives. It has always been a great neighborhood of mostly single-family homes. Many families have grown up together here. It’s a safe and friendly neighborhood where everyone knows and respects each other. This is what makes up the structure and character of this neighborhood. What’s not to love?!

Clyde understands this. In fact, he lived on the street until he became mayor and was required to move. This was because his property on Duprey Street was outside the village of Saranac Lake. He still owns the property, which has mainly been used as long-term rentals. Even after he moved away, he would be around regularly. He’d give a wave to anyone he saw and would often stop and talk or joke around with his “old neighbors.”

In 2013, Clyde bought a 0.45-acre lot on the corner of Duprey Street and Tara Drive. It had a couple of small cabins and a single-wide trailer on it. They were nothing to write home about, but they fit into the character of the neighborhood and did provide housing for the low-income families and college students, who would have otherwise had a hard time finding housing. A few years ago, Clyde tore down the cabin on the back of the property and replaced it with a single-story home with two bedrooms and an attached garage. This structure, located at 83 Tara Drive, is definitely a nice upgrade from the cabin, and aesthetically, it fits nicely with the character of the neighborhood. Like the other two remaining dwellings, it became long-term rental property, meeting the needs of lower-income professionals in the village. Clyde was doing his part to assist with the need for affordable housing in the village, which at the time was just beginning to become a potential problem.

In early 2019, Clyde, along with another investor, purchased the property at 42 Duprey St. He did a large renovation of the interior of the property and, in the summer of 2019, began renting it out as a short-term rental. Since then, with few exceptions, it has been rented out on a regular basis. This includes in 2020, during the height of the pandemic. This was a big departure from Clyde’s previous long-term rental practices on the street.

In March of this year, a handful of neighbors were given notice that Cedar Ridge Holdings Inc., of which Clyde is the principal, was planning to build four two-story, three-bedroom, 2.5-bath townhouses on his property at the corner of Duprey Street and Tara Drive. The two-bedroom house at 83 Tara Drive would remain, but the trailer and small cabin would be torn down and replaced by these new townhouses. Needless to say, the neighbors were taken totally by surprise. Sure, there had been talk that Clyde would eventually upgrade those two dwellings. He himself had mentioned it a few times in passing. One or two small houses similar to the one he had just built on the property would fit nicely into the character of the neighborhood. However, no one was prepared for what Clyde had in store. Not once did he reach out to any of his “old neighbors” to discuss his plans and ask for their thoughts.

Needless to say, the residents of this neighborhood are united in their opposition to having townhouses built. Not only because townhouses would completely change the look and character of this neighborhood, but there would also be too many single-family residences on a property of less than a half-acre.

After more than two months of Cedar Ridge Holdings trying to get the townhouse special use permit application approved by the village Development Board, and the neighborhood owners providing detailed facts why it shouldn’t be approved, the village Development Board has yet to make a decision. That has not stopped Cedar Ridge Holdings. Now they are submitting additional applications for subdividing the property into four smaller lots, which will also require a variance. It appears to be another approach to try and fit the development into the existing building code. However, the Development Board does not seem to be addressing the real issue, which is building townhouses on a 0.43-acre lot in a primarily single-family zoning district.

Meanwhile, the house at 83 Tara Drive has now become a short-term rental. Based on this change, one can only speculate what these potential townhouses will become. While the plans to start building these townhouses are on hold, Clyde has begun construction on a new single-family house at 21 Duprey St., another property he recently purchased.

It’s great to know that Clyde “loves Duprey Street.” However, given everything he’s been focused on recently, one has to ask, “What is it about Duprey Street he really loves?”

Si Flores lives on Duprey Street in Saranac Lake.

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