Saranac Lake Village Board members pose for their official photograph on March 13. From left, front row, are Trustee Elias Pelletieri, Mayor Clyde Rabideau and Trustee John McEneany. From left, standing, are trustees Tom Catillaz and Jeff Branch and Village Manager John Sweeney.
Saranac Lake Village Board members March 13 passed a law that rezones less than 2 acres of land on Kiwassa Road for the construction of a veterans treatment center.
This rezoning has been a contentious issue with neighbors, yet many who spoke at the public hearing before the board’s decision voiced approval for the center, even though the consensus was that communication about the project with neighbors in its early phase was poor.
“I no longer have the same level of concern as I did initially,” said Ray Scollin, of Kiwassa Road.
The treatment center will be built and operated by St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center under the Veterans Community Residence program.
In an effort to compromise with neighbors, St. Joseph’s plans to build only on the western 1.53 acres of a 2.97-acre parcel, leaving 1.44 acres as an open space buffer between the facility and the neighbors on Kiwassa Road.
One of those neighbors, Mark Sengenberger, told Village Board members that the buffer is “a positive improvement,” and there are some details that still need to be resolved during the site plan review.
“We think that the proposal as put forth at this point is reasonable,” Sengenberger said. “We hope that this works out as well as Mr. Ross would like it to for the benefit of the veterans, and we certainly hope that it ends up being a positive for the community.”
St. Joseph’s CEO Bob Ross ended the public hearing with a few remarks.
“I’ve been very pleased to have the dialogue with the neighbors,” Ross said, adding that he was also happy to have the village’s assistance during the planning process for the benefit of the community, St. Joseph’s and the veterans. “I think it represents that we can wind up with a win-win-win.”
After the hearing, Village Board members voted unanimously to rezone the 1.53 acres from the K2 Zoning District to the L1 Zoning District.
The amendment to the Saranac Lake Zoning Map is subject to the following conditions:
•St. Joseph’s needs to obtain a special use permit from the Planning Board.
•St. Joseph’s needs to obtain the rights to build on the land located within a “paper street” called Abenaki Road.
•St. Joseph’s needs to dedicate the eastern portion of the property, 1.44 acres, as open space.
•St. Joseph’s needs to waive additional building rights on the western portion of the property, limiting the construction to the new treatment facility.
St. Joseph’s currently operates a treatment center on 21.7 acres adjacent to the proposed Veterans Community Residence. The new 9,500-square-foot building would include 24 beds in 12 rooms, plus dining, recreation and office facilities. The program is designed to help veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is one of four centers that have received grant awards for this purpose by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. It will be the only such facility in northern New York and will be exclusively for men. St. Joseph’s will send all female referrals to the Samaritan Village in Ellenville, N.Y.; likewise, the Samaritan Village will send all male referrals to St. Joseph’s.
The Veterans Community Residence will be staffed by 15 full-time and four part-time employees.