An architect's revised rendition of the proposed Lake George Marriott hotel shows the Adirondack-style architecture, staggered rooflines and facade offsets that village planning board members had suggested last fall. Recently, the board members asked for more information on the project, while posing questions about screening from adjacent properties.
The controversial six-story hotel planned for downtown Lake George is now one major step closer to reality.
The site plans and architectural drawings for the proposed Marriott Courtyard Hotel & Conference Center were approved Wednesday night, in a 3-2 split vote, by the Lake George Village Planning Board.
The approval followed a presentation by architect Ethan Hall of Saratoga Springs, and assurance by village Department of Public Works Superintendent Dave Harrington that the village’s wastewater treatment plant could handle the additional sewage produced by the hotel.
Proponents of the hotel have cited the economic benefits of the hotel, primarily the 100-plus jobs it would create and how it would be attracting corporate conferences and weddings with upscale clients that have disposable income to spend in the village.
Opponents have criticized about how the tall hotel would change the character of the village, obstruct views of the lake as well as blot out sunshine along Canada St. — and that it has uninspired architecture.
The development now goes to the Adirondack Park Agency for review. While most development projects in villages and hamlets are exempt from APA review, this hotel is jurisdictional because of its size, height and potential for changing the character and ambiance of the village.
Harrington had said the hotel’s sewage flow of an estimated 20,000 gallons or so daily, could be accommodated by the village’s wastewater treatment plant. He noted that recent efforts to curb infiltration of groundwater into the pipes had boosted the plant’s available treatment capacity.
He recognized the concerns of environmentalists and some citizens about the continuing excess nitrate levels in the plant’s effluent, but he said that an ongoing $2.2 million project to upgrade the plant was now underway, and combined with another similar follow-up project, the plant would likely meet state effluent purity standards.
Kenny noted that the existing businesses that would be razed to accommodate the hotel on Canada St. — two restaurants and a tavern — have been producing 10,000 to 12,000 gallons per day, so the actual additional sewage flow would be under 10,000 gallons daily.
Planning Board chairman Robert Mastrantoni called for a decision without seeking comments from the audience.
Board member Chuck Luke read a lengthy motion to approve the project, a document that had been prepared in advance with the assistance of an attorney. The motion included reference to how a rooftop bar or solar panels would have to be reviewed and improved in advance by the local planning board.
Board member Dean Howland seconded the motion to approve. Joining the two with an affirmative vote were Mastrantoni as well as Dan Brown. Voting against the motion were Dan Wolfield and Patricia Dow. Wolfield said he wanted to delay any decision until hearing the concerns raised by the APA officials. Peter Bauer of Protect the Adirondacks had recently told the board doing so would be smart because the local planning board would thus have the benefit of the APA staff’s comprehensive expertise in planning issues.
Dow said she rejected the motion because the village’s wastewater issues that triggered legal action by the state had not yet been resolved. She also said the hotel would be a burden on public infrastructure. She added that the architecture of the hotel didn’t comply with the village’s new architectural mandates, which include stepped roofs, recesses, bump-outs and other aesthetic embellishment.
The roofline isn’t varied,” she said. “Visually, it remains a large boxy structure.”
After the vote, hotel developer Dave Kenny said he was pleased with the Planning Board’s decision, and he was ready to move forward with the plans.
“We’ll see what the APA says — I think we’ve tried to make it the best we can. Hopefully the hotel will be positive for Lake George Village — which needs changes.”
Kenny said the hotel would bring off-season business to the village, which is now quite busy during summer months, but has most of its shops close down for the winter months.
“The hotel should bring home an expanded economic base — with its year-round business — to the village,” he said.
Mayor Bob Blais predicted Wednesday that the APA would approve the project, based on the scrutiny the project has received to date by the village planning board, and his observation that the APA tends to permit projects in hamlets and villages that have gained local approval.
“I think it will be approved, as long as we’ve done our homework, — and the village Planning Board seems to have done their very best,” he said. It’s a development that looks good and will fit well in the village.”
Lake George Citizens’ Group representative Joanne Gavin, who has opposed the project on the basis of its height and incompatibility with existing structures in the village, rejected this opinion. She said on the group’s Facebook page Thursday that APA approval of the hotel is not a “done deal," and that Lake George citizens continue to provide input in how they envision the future of their community.
“We cannot let them just rubber stamp this,” she said in the post, referring to the APA review of the hotel.
“In our viewpoint, this is a project that has been carefully manipulated through the system while the constiuency has been carefully ignored,” the post reads.
But Blais praised the board for their work, and he predicted the hotel would boost the village’s prosperity.
“This hotel will certainly move us closer to being a year-round destination,” he said. “Marriott is the No. 1 hospitality brand in the nation — particularly for business travelers — so this will be extremely important for the village.
Blais continued that the new hotel, if built, would generate a substantial buzz about the village in the U.S. and abroad.
“Marriott is internationally renowned,” he said. “When this hotel is in operation, every single Marriott Publication around the world will list ‘The Lake George Marriott,’” he said. “And that’s pretty neat.”