SCHROONLAKE - The hamlet of Schroon Lake would like to grow.
With that in mind, town of Schroon officials have applied for a state Smart Growth grant to prepare a proposal for the Adirondack Park Agency, which must approve a change of hamlet boundaries.
"In planning for the future it has become apparent that the town of Schroon has very few areas for future residential growth," Schroon Supervisor Cathy Moses said. "Overall, just under 70 percent of the land mass in the town of Schroon is part of the Forever Wild Forest Preserve."
The town has identified two contiguous properties that appear to have ideal "hamlet type" characteristics for the Schroon Lake initiative. The parcels are surrounded by existing hamlet on the south, east and north.
The property targeted by local officials is currently classified as Low Intensity by the APA. That means 3.2 acres are required for a single family dwelling.
Before formally asking the APA to reclassify the land as hamlet, Schroon officials hope to secure the Smart Growth grant to conduct an in-depth soils analysis to determine if the land can sustain hamlet-type development and to develop a detailed engineering proposal that to bring municipal sewer to the project area.
The APA generally mandates that sewer be brought to the expansion area, Moses said. The scope of the engineering report will also include the lakefront portion from Olden Drive to the marina and the Commerce Park area.
Roger Friedman, a Schroon trustee, said the proposed hamlet expansion could lead to access to affordable housing for many.
"The owners of these properties have agreed that in exchange for reclassification, that at a minimum 20 percent of all created future lots will be allocated for affordable housing that will be in the framework of a community trust under the auspices of the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County," he said.
Increased affordable housing could also help Schroon Lake Central School, Friedman said, which as seen a decline in enrollment.
"A desirable result of the Smart Growth initiative would be to have new families with children move into town and help bolster the enrollment at Schroon Lake Central School," he said. "The almost completed comprehensive upgrades to the school prepare the school for any growth that will occur."
Hamlet expansion could also prove to be an economic boost to the community. The expansion could lead to population growth, which could spur retail business. The expansion could also make sewer service to portions of the town's commercial park not currently served.
"What is more important than to preserve the downtown area - the core of the hamlet?" Friedman asked. "The current economy of Schroon Lake can be defined as not much more than subsistence. This plan, which creates a new neighborhood, will help bolster the Main Street business area, the local economy and will be a catalyst for energizing hamlet activities."
The expansion of sewer service would also reduce rates to existing customers, he noted. That sewer expansion would also eliminate a "hot spot" where inadequate sewers border the lake.
Friedman said the hamlet expansion could also help reduce local property taxes.
"This plan should provide well over $10,000,000 in new assessed valuation to the tax rolls of the town of Schroon," he said.
The proposed hamlet expansion would also improve traffic flow in the area and allow for a permanent snowmobile trail that can be used for walking and biking in the non-winter seasons, Friedman noted.
"The town of Schroon has made a serious investment in the comprehensive rebuilding of the town's infrastructure and the table is set for good things to happen," Moses said. "The town's plan will allow our community to retain its balance and optimistically face the future."
People seeking more information can contact Moses at 532-7737 or Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full preliminary narrative can be picked up at town hall or be viewed on the town's website.