Save Our Small Town.com is a web site inspired by a group of local citizens in Lake Placid New York who are passionately fighting to save the small town they love from overdevelopment .
All across America these same battles are being waged between local residents defending their small towns from unbridaled overdevelopment.
Our mission is to share as much information as we can with other concerned citizens who are fighting their own battles to save their small towns. We invite you to join our growing network of grassroots organizations dedicated to preserving a way of life that is rapidly disappearing from the American landscape.
Whats great about small town living?
The air is clean! There is no pollution. We feel safe! Our doors are locked infrequently. Our neighbors are honest and friendly. Only recently have we learned to remove car keys from unattended vehicles not because of any great dangers, but to make us more cautious and safe when we are in more heavily populated areas.
There are very few strangers in our small community. Most people know each other, and even if you are not truly acquainted, faces smile with recognition and greetings are exchanged with warmth. Friendly inquiries are made when there has been an experience with pain or joy. Anytime a neighbor is suffering from ill health or some loss, the community is there to help, to lighten the burden, and to express their loving concern. Shopping for groceries, gas or supplies are social events, as neighbors share their recent adventures, concerns, and talk about the weather.
When a need for variety presents itself, we can visit the city and appreciate its offerings for entertainment and major shopping.
is difficult to describe the many influences that create our exceptional quality
of life here in a small town. There is a spirit of community here that is lacking
in urban areas. As an individual, you matter! There is trust. There is an appreciation
for the beauty of the land that surrounds this community. There is respect for
that land because it is our source of livelihood. There is respect for each other,
for we depend on each other, and yet, we are fiercely individual. We are truly
Land Development Issues
The design of a community can reduce land, pavement, water and driving consumption. Poorly planned development threatens our environment, our health, and our quality of life in numerous ways.
All development projects should preserve quality of life for both existing and future residents. Whenever possible, a project should also be designed to enhance quality of life.
A good Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will achieve both goals by meeting the following three criteria:
All reasonable alternatives for achieving the project goals should be evaluated, including no-build.
All quality of life impacts, both positive and negative, resulting from each alternative must be identified.
Each alternative must be ranked objectively with respect to cumulative and individual quality of life impacts.
The research needed to fulfill these three criteria should be carried out in an open process where the public is provided with ample, independent background information and extensive opportunities to fully participate. Of course, the alternative should be that which has the most positive quality of life impact while coming closest to achieving the purposes of the project.
From the Save LakePlacid.com message board
Hi I am writing from California to commend you folks for fighting to preserve your property rights. We in Bloomington California are backed up against a wall. We are working to save our little town and are in the middle of a Incorporation effort. The powers against us are many with a large segment on boards and commissions we must go in front of. We are a non profit group that need to raise 109 thousand dollars by Feb 28th or our work will be for not, the county will set in redevelopment and our town soon will be a thing of the past. I was in hopes that in your battles you may of found some links to donors who believe in small towns and open spaces. If anyone there knows of such a person please give me a call 909 446 2679 thank you so much for your time and keep up the great work....
Save Saranac Lake.org
Concerned citizens working to preserve the unique Adirondack character of Saranac Lake, NY.
of Life Growth Management Land Use Planning
The QLGM plan is developed through a process that maximizes participation by all community members and consists of the following steps:
mechanisms such as public opinion surveys, neighborhood meetings, focus groups,
and so forth, identify the quality of life factors the community views as important.
By Carl Pope from the PERC website
On Election Day 1998, Americans from California to New Jersey voted to slow growth, save forests and farmlands, and rein in development. In an unmistakable signal of rising saliency and political power, growth and land-use measures appeared on more than 200 state and county ballots nationwide.
New Jersey, voters approved a 10-year plan to raise $1 billion to preserve 1 million
acres of open space.
What do millions of Americans know that Randall Holcombe's defense of sprawl ignores? To begin with, Americans are reacting to the actual impact of sprawl on their lives, not to Holcombe's abstract economic argument that it could be good.
fact, it turns out not to be good. Sprawl is a ubiquitous problem, and Americans-whether
they live in urban Atlanta or rural Washtenaw County, Michigan -are deciding that
current planning and development practices come with more costs than benefits.
Development plans that may have worked fifty years ago are no longer the answer
for today's growth.
The worst environmental impact of sprawl is the least avoidable. Sprawl, by definition, fragments landscapes-and fragmented landscapes are the biggest threat to America's wildlife heritage. Sprawl is very good for the most adaptable and common creatures-raccoons, deer, sparrows, starlings, sea gulls-all do well-and devastating for wildlife that is more dependent upon privacy, seclusion, and protection from such predators as dogs and cats.
There are obvious qualityof- life problems caused by sprawl-more time caught in traffic caused by auto-dependent lives, abandoned urban communities, remote and isolated suburban neighborhoods.
But sprawl has an economic cost, too. Tax policies contribute to the public's growing dissatisfaction with sprawl. American taxpayers are actually subsidizing the extent and pace of sprawl through local, state, and federal spending, which increases to fund new development. That means a choice between more taxes or less spending in other deserving areas.
Some advocates of sprawl argue, "Well, then just get rid of the subsidies." Holcombe blithely opines that "it is the responsibility of local governments to see that the costs of water, sewer, roads, and so forth are charged to development."
I wonder what planet he lives on. When localities try to charge developers even a fraction of the true costs, those developers and other sprawl advocates fight back fiercely. In California efforts to charge new developments the full costs of new water supplies, which are far greater than those of the more efficient reservoirs built first, have run into tremendous resistance. In Alabama and New York developers are trying to hold on to federally subsidized flood insurance on the ground that it is a "right." The reality is that if we really got rid of the subsidies to sprawl, we would also get rid of sprawl.
The sums involved in the subsidies are huge. In Fairfax County, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., the 1997 budget of $1.8 billion ran a deficit of $146 million. In nearby Prince William County, taxpayers spend $3,838 to provide services to a single household, but only receive $2,150. A report released last month by Rutgers University looked at the costs of sprawl to South Florida. Adding up the price tags on new land development, new roads, and new infrastructure, the report found that sprawl in South Florida alone is costing an astounding $6.15 billion.
Holcombe does not cite a single case in which the kind of low-density sprawl he defends occurred in the absence of massive public subsidies. He doesn't because he can't. There are no such examples.
It is not accidental that in the last era of metropolitan growth prior to the massive federal and state subsidies for highways, sewers, etc., the development pattern that emerged was of compact suburban developments with mixed use, light and heavy rail transit, and an almost total absence of leapfrog and strip development-America's streetcar suburbs from the 1900-1925 era.
Taken together, these factors are fueling local action and a national debate. Americans are demanding common-sense solutions and smarter growth.
Fortunately, there are at least three options that provide guidance for urban growth planners charged with preparing plans for future growth:
Taken together, these three options for controlling growth will help alleviate the costs and consequences of new development.
Holcombe argues that "left to its own devices, development will occur in a decentralized manner, which will usually lead different types of activity to be conveniently located in relation to one another." This fascinating argument overlooks hundreds of years of urban history in which development, left to its own devices, prior to the era of either zoning or governmental subsidies, followed anything but a decentralized pattern.
Indeed, the classic original argument for both regulation and subsidy in urban landscapes was that, left to its own devices, development was too centralized and intense for human welfare. Freeways, zoning laws, and urban renewal were all developed to overcome the "natural" tendency of development to concentrate and cluster.
If there is any one constant in our history, it is our nation's ability to learn from our mistakes, to change with the times, to try something "new and improved." We have come to a new day in national growth policy. The economic and social benefits of urban renewal far outweigh the national drain accompanying sprawl. Americans everywhere are promoting a new approach to community planning, and the time has come for the planners to catch up with the public.CASE STUDY: Austin Texas
The Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail is the thread that sews the lake to its surrounding neighborhoods. The trail is recognized by national runner magazines as one of the finest recreational running facilities in the nation. What makes it special? There is room to breathe and lots of nature to experience right in the heart of the city. Runners, walkers, strollers, bicyclists, meditators, picnickers, dogs and their owners all have a sense of freedom from urban chaos because of the openness of the lake area. This openness is created because the current buildings are set appropriately back from the shore.
Contrast two comparable-use structures along the lake the Hyatt and the Four Seasons. One crowds the shoreline, the other keeps a respectful distance. To any lake or trail user, the difference is stark. The space in front of the Four Seasons allows room to stop, to watch, to sit, or as one visitor put it, to saunter, like yall do down here. The dark alleyway in front of the Hyatt forces users to hurry through the corridor and to feel like intruders. Intruders on a PUBLIC lake???
This web site is here because of a redevelopment proposal for the property at 222-300 E. Riverside, the third in the last year along Town Lake. The project is the next in a line of 20+ properties to be redeveloped in the Town Lake area. The developer wants approvals from the citys Parks Board and Planning Commission to create another Hyatt-type alleyway to go against the decades-old consensus for the lake. The developer, CWS Capital Partners, wants to hurry people along, rather than allowing them room to saunter or sit a spell. The combined primary and secondary setback requirements for this area of the Waterfront Overlay District are 200 feet. Limited and very specific development is allowed in each of the setbacks, but the primary development must be setback the full 200 feet from the lake edge. This measurement was established with the l985 Waterfront Overlay Ordinance as a result of the Hyatts choice to crowd the shore. CWS Capital Partners are requesting a variance from this 200 feet. They would like to erect their 20 story condos only 80 feet from the shoreline.
are concerned that by giving this developer such a concession, it not only creates
another private-atmosphere tunnel along the lake, but sets a MAJOR precedent for
the dozens of projects that are being planned on the shores of our beautiful,
contact the Parks Board, Parks Staff, City Planning Commission and the Austin
City Council. Let them know that you are concerned. You want Town Lake to remain
a special, accessible, public place.
CASE STUDY: Lake Placid NY
www.Save Lake Placid.com
The Proposed Lake Placid Hilton Redevelopment Plan
The Lake Placid Hilton has proposed a five story condominium project on the site of the Hilton-owned Lake View Motel on Saranac Avenue and Mirror Lake Drive in downtown Lake Placid. This project calls for a 46-unit condominium complex on the site of their existing Lake View Motel on Mirror Lake Drive.
Request for four substantial variances
The project must receive four different variances from the Adirondack Park Agency and local Lake Placid Zoning Board of Appeals.
1)The first variance request is to allow for more parking spaces than are currently allowed in the C-1 zoning district.
2)The second variance is for a conditional use variance because the building would be closer than 100 feet to a residential district.
3)The third variance is a request to construct the building 19 feet and 10 inches higher than the 30 feet maximum height currently allowed.
4)The fourth variance is for a significant setback in the front yard of the building.
Photo gallery of Lake Placid community meeting to review the Hilton Redevelopment Project
On November 30th, the first meeting of concerned Lake Placid Citizens was held to discuss the proposed Hilton ReDevelopment Project.
This group was hosted by the Grant's and included many leading community members who have have been active in Lake Placid zoning and development issues for many years.
Among those attending this meeting & pictured below are Ruth Hart, Georgia Jones, Dr. & Lauri Bergamini, Wayne Johnston, Ray & Iris Havilcek, Ian Poole, Lisa Townson, Al Tuthill, Barry & Rosette Press, Dianne Reynolds, Terri & Debbi Kent, Jane Egan and many others. The meeting was chaired by Pat Grant and included a detailed review of the proposed Hilton Redevelopment Project and its impact on the Village of Lake Placid.
Public Comment Message Board
We are posting comments and opinions from concerned citizens as these come in to us.
Please read these posts below:
' The land use code, (which is a good one) states in it's opening mission statement "...purpose and intent of these Regulations is to promote the health, safety and the general welfare of the community....................to promote aesthetic values, and to encourage the most appropriate use of land throughout the Village of LP and Town of N. Elba Comprehensive Plan. Further, its purpose is to consider land use and development........in order to preserve the character and quality of life enjoyed in the Community at present.... The overall goal of the Comprehensive Plan is to protect and enhance both the community and its natural surroundings. The comprehensive Plan recognizes that we are a dual-purpose community - that the needs of the residents and our visitors are equally important. '
"Progress is important to any town. However,when it changes the face of our town and the reasons why people live and visit here,then it has gone too far. A conservative updating of the Hilton Properties, in keeping with the town's character is called for, but not this massive approach or with the adverse affect on its residents that this project surely will have".
"Hilton's design is huge. It is like five Walmarts stacked on top of each other, plus turrets, peaked roofs and towers. Also, it appears to be just the first step of an aggressive overall plan to build up their whole complex, making us look more like the Town of North Hilton. "
Acting Executive Director
U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation
Lake Placid, NY 12946
"The purpose of the Lake Placid building code is to "preserve the character of the community" This project, as proposed, totally ignores this criteria."
December 4, 2006
Letter to the Editor
Lake Placid News
Good News? Bad News? That really is the question you might want to ask
yourself about the proposed Hilton Redevelopment Project located on Mirror
Lake Drive. I know that for me, the answer is bad news. I've never paid
enough attention to area zoning laws (like most of us, I've been busy.)
But this project is different for me because it is being built in my front
yard. No one else will be as adversely affected as I am, but the reason
you may want to pay attention is because, as I have learned, what effects
me will probably at some time affect you if you own a home in Lake Placid.
The Hilton Redevelopment Project is proposing a 46 unit Condo/Hotel
directly in front of my home. This project will replace the Hilton motel
extension on Mirror Lake Drive. I live on Swiss Road, which is loosely
considered to be part of the "Signal Hill" neighborhood. If I'm having a
pizza or a bed delivered I just say I live right across the street from
Dr. Bergamini, and that usually works for me. This district is labeled
R-1A (Residential) in the land use codebook (This book is very, very thick
and lives in Jim Morganson's office on the 3rd floor of the town hall.)
The land use codebook made clear my current rights as a residential
property owner; what my restrictions were with regard to setbacks and
height restrictions for my home. It also spelled out for me the rights of
my commercial neighbor, The Hilton.
The Hilton's land use code is C-1 for commercial properties. Two of the
many C-1 restrictions are:
1. No building, parking or service area shall be closer than 100 feet to
a Residential District
2. The Maximum height for C-1 Zone is 30 feet.
The Hilton developers are seeking four variances from the current land use
code. Two of these concern the above listed restrictions. The Hilton has
asked to take back 67 feet of the 100-foot setback that protects me, the
residential neighbor, from them for a parking lot. This will make the
buffer 33 feet instead of 100 feet. So now there will be a parking lot 33
feet from my front yard. My house sits close to my property line so the
effect is that my house is now sitting in the parking lot of the new
Hilton Condo owners. The original intention of the land use code was to
protect me, the residential neighbor, from the noise, fumes, and lights
from commercial use. Is there any sane reason why the Hilton should be
granted this setback variance? Sixty-seven feet is an insane request, but
frankly, as I've paid my mortgage and taxes on this property for eighteen
years and worked in the community for as many, I don't see how I can be
reasonably expected to give up any of this setback to developers. Can you?
Pretty much the same argument goes for the height variance the developer
is requesting. They are looking for 19 feet ten inches plus 8 to 10 feet
for "turrets" which look to be penthouse elevators. This will give them
roughly 20 extra feet above the current code plus the 8-10 for something
else unclear in the drawings. When I look at the drawings for this
project, it appears that the building in front of my house will be 72 feet
tall. I will no longer have a view of the lake or the mountains, which I
have enjoyed and will have finally paid off (via my mortgage) in two
Isn't it ironic that as I'm just about to pay off my home, not only the
value of it will be taken away but also my personal enjoyment of it. And
here's the final bit of irony. if we don't get this project to conform to
the land use code of Lake Placid, someone, probably from Connecticut or
Northern New Jersey, will have been offered my land and view, by a
developer from Illinois who will receive somewhere between $500,000 to
$1,000,000 for each of the 46 units and neither the developer nor the second
home owner will ever live here.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the future of the year-round
resident is really what is at stake here.
If you live here, come to a public hearing for this project on December 18
at the Town Hall at 7PM. Maybe we can help each other understand this
project and our rights as residents of Lake Placid.
SUMMIT HOTEL OPPOSES HILTONS CONDO COMPLEX
by- Chris Knight WNBZ AM 1240, FM Y106.3
The Lake Placid Hiltons plan to build a five-story 46-unit condominium complex on the site of their existing Lake View Motel on Mirror Lake Drive is facing opposition from a neighboring hotel property.
Its going to be detrimental to our business, said Brandi Barbee, general manager of the Lake Placid Summit Hotel, formerly the Ramada Inn, which is located directly behind and slightly above the project site.
Barbee says the Hiltons condo complex would eliminate the view of Mirror Lake from their current restaurant, a new restaurant and one entire side of their three-story hotel. It will completely block the views, she said.
A public hearing on the Hilton project is scheduled for December 18 before the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Zoning Board of Appeals.
The condominium complex, which also includes an underground parking area, would need several variances from the ZBA before the project could be presented to the village and town review board.
One of the variances would allow for smaller off-street parking spaces than allowed in the propertys zoning district. Another would permit the building to be closer than 100 feet to a residential district. And the Hilton wants to construct the building 19 feet, 10 inches higher than the 40 feet allowed in the code.
Edward Garrigan of the Latham-based C.T. Male, the Hiltons engineering firm, said the complex needs to be that size because of the upscale market their building for. The starting price for the condos is $500,000. You need to have a certain amount of square footage to offer that product, he said. We need to have so many rooms at certain square feet in order to have a project to send out to potential buyers.
And there are costs associated with moving a sewer line underneath the existing motel that need to be offset to make the project viable, Garrigan said.
He also said the architect has tried to make the building fit in with the area. Theres other buildings on Main Street hes incorporated into his design to make this part of the fabric of the community and not something that doesnt fit the Adirondacks and Lake Placid, he said.
But the Summit Hotel has hired a consultant and a photographer to try and show how their business would be negatively affected by the structure. Barbee said they tried to work with officials at the Hilton. Theyve been very cordial, she said. But it would have significant impact on us.
The neighbors have also hired a local attorney whos trying to contact other property owners who will be impacted by the loss of their view.
says they planned to lease the new restaurant in the next three months, but those
people have now backed out. She thinks its because of what the Hilton has
proposed. I do believe thats the reason they decided to pull out of
the project, she said. They were excited for a lake front view. Well
probably end up operating it ourselves.
Please visit Save Lake Placid.com