LAKE GEORGE - The village government decided Monday to seek federal stimulus money to spruce up its downtown streetscape.
The village board voted to hire Elan Planning and Design - at a cost of $3,400 - to submit applications for government grants to beautify a stretch of Canada Street.
WIth the money, the village would finish up a downtown beautification project begun five years ago that included new brick sidewalks, curb bump-outs, lighting and landscaping. Much of Canada St. has already been completed, but a stretch along the west side of Canada St. from McGillis Ave to Mountain Drive is unfinished, and would be the targeted area for the grant funds, village Mayor Robert Blais said. He estimated that this phase of the beautification project might total as much as $1 million.
"Completing this project would make quite a difference in the appearance of the village," he said.
The village could reuse the existing beautification plan Elan prepared five years ago for about $100,000, and pay the firm merely for a plan update and new grant application.
Blais said he was advised that stimulus funds were available under the state's Waterfront Revitalization program, requiring a 10 to 50 percent local match, which could be fulfilled with in-kind services.
In other business, the village board rejected pleas from commercial property owners who sought a compliance extension or exclusion from the new ordinance that requires dumpsters within 25 feet of a thoroughfare to be enclosed or screened from public view by fencing. Blais noted that such fencing, besides improving the village's aesthetics, discourages instances of people illegally disposing of trash in others' dumpsters.
In a related action, the board scheduled a public hearing for Aug. 17 to consider enacting a Property Maintenance Ordinance. This local law would consolidate mandates now existing in the zoning code, but allow the town code enforcement officer to simply posting violations on properties or mailing violation notices, rather than serving notices in person as is required under zoning ordinances in the state.
Blais said that the village has encountered problems serving notices of violations because many of the local landowners live overseas or across the country, which makes enforcing the law problematical.
Also, the village board forwarded a suggestion to the village planning board to consider liberalizing its zoning ordinances that limit structure heights to a maximum of three stories. Increasing that limit to four or five stories or more might help boost village development and expand the tax base, village trustee Ray Perry said, noting that all development projects in the village involving structures over 40 feet tall would require stringent review of the Adirondack Park Agency anyway.
"Building upwards is the only way we'll be able to grow in the future," Perry said, observing that condominium developments, anticipated in the village, were often higher than three stories.
Trustee Joe Mastrodomenico expressed his reservations.
"The next thing you know, Donald Trump would be in our village building high-rises."
Perry persisted with his point.
"It's happening all over the nation, and we need to keep up with the times," he said.
In other business, the village approved adding two weekends to their list of dates when village residents can rent out spaces on their property for parking vehicles.
Although the practice is generally not permitted in the village, it is now permitted for summer Thursday nights when fireworks are held, and on dates for the Lake George Car Show, Americade motorcycle rally, and for the Fourth of July.
New on the list are Friday and Saturday during the annual Family Festival event, and on Labor Day weekend.