By CRISTINE MEIXNER
SPECULATOR -- Lake Pleasant Lodge owners Donald and Michele Rhodes want to combine their three lakeside properties here into one 1.3-acre parcel and expand their motel from 11 to 60 units.
They would have to go up to do it, according to Zoning Enforcement Officer Spencer Tracy. "Spreading it out would go over [the allowed 25 percent footprint]," he told the Village of Speculator Planning Board during a special meeting Tuesday, July 8.
Rhodes wants to go to three stories. The property on Lake Pleasant is on the corner of State Route 30 and Elliott Lane, and residents of the lane are concerned.
Donald Rhodes says the project, in a Commercial Business zone, meets all village zoning. Planning Board Chairman Judith Peck agreed, and added it complies with Adirondack Park Agency regulations too.
The APA, which regulates land use zoning within the Adirondack Park, has issued Rhodes a letter saying no permit or variance would be required from the agency.
But Peck asked if Rhodes could go two stories high instead of three. "It would not be a viable project," Rhodes replied. "Keep in mind it is 11 units now and no one has been able to make a go of it."
Board Member John Foley asked, "How small could you go and still be feasible?"
Rhodes replied, "Sixty. I talked to the firm that did the original market study. They recommend at least 85 units and preferably no fewer than 100. If you issue a permit I will spend the $10,000 for the study and I may be back for a variance to go bigger.
"Ample water and sewer and zoning that is compatible is very rare in Hamilton County. We need projects of scale in Hamilton County and I'm bringing one."
"We need motels desperately and would like to have more units," Peck agreed. The motel would employ 30 people, according to Rhodes' application.
Nineteen members of the public were present as the board reviewed five pertinent requirements in the village's zoning regulations.
Member John Mullens said the plan is not compatible with surrounding uses. "The sheer size in that neighborhood is overwhelming," he said. The 30,000-square-foot motel would replace 8,000 square feet of buildings.
Rhodes countered, "It will be smaller than the building across the street," referring to The Lemon Tree's boat storage building.
Member Daniel Burgess asked how it would affect the vista. When pressed Rhodes admitted the building would be "slightly" closer to Rt. 30 and would take "a small" amount of the view away.
The conceptual expansion plan map shows the new building would face Lake Pleasant and the northeast corner would be 14.9 feet closer to Rt. 30 than the current motel.
TRAFFIC & NOISE
Traffic, noise and light pollution were also discussed.
The plan called for three driveways onto Elliott Lane, but when that seemed a concern Rhodes said he would revise the plans to show the primary access from Rt. 30 and the secondary access from Elliott Lane, across from The Lemon Tree's rear access there.
"By lining those up you reduce conflict points. It is traffic safety 101," he said.
Rhodes does not anticipate noise being an issue. "We will have a buffer," he said. "Noise is not anticipated to be high."
Rhodes said the outdoor lighting will be funneled downward and vehicle headlights will be screened with vegetation.
The board also discussed parking. Tracy said one parking space is required per unit and 64 are shown on the plan. Thirty-five of them would be to the west of the building, 16 to the east and 13 to the north.
Rhodes told the board he would "revise the plans to meet your expectations" and provide it with the marketing study the county / region has done." He also plans on doing a visual impact study, where large helium balloons would be flown at 38 feet from each corner of the building.
"I want this project to be something that fits," Rhodes told the board. "I want you to have the information you need."
The planning board will next meet Tuesday, July 22, starting at 7 p.m. at Village Hall. It expects to take up the Rhodes project again and will probably set a date for a public hearing on it.