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Lake Luzerne grants zoning change for large development near ski resort

Lake Luzerne grants zoning change for large development near ski resort

The 2,300-acre Mont Luzerne project that would feature 2,400 residential units, a hotel, apartments

The 2,300-acre Mont Luzerne project that would feature 2,400 residential units, a hotel, apartments and commercial establishments has been granted a zoning change by the town.

The ambitious project was first proposed in 2006 on property in the town of Lake Luzerne adjacent to the West Mountain Ski Center in the Warren County town of Queensbury.

Village Square Venture LLC, a partnership with an office in Malta, must still create engineering and design plans and seek site plan review from the town.

A small piece of the property is located in the Adirondack Park and the park agency will have to review and approve an entrance road proposed for this area.

The principals of Village Square Venture include Michael Brandt, the former owner of West Mountain Ski Center, local builder and developer Mickey Ricciardi, and engineer Jim Suozzo. Mike Barbone, current owner of West Mountain Ski Center, is also associated with the large-scale project.

“I feel it’s good for our community,” said Lake Luzerne Town Supervisor Eugene Merlino.

He said the Town Board voted 3-1 earlier this month to change zoning on the mountain-top property from a variety of rural residential zones to a planned development district (PDD), which allows for the clustering of homes on a portion of the property while leaving more than half of the acreage as open space.

group opposes plan

Merlino said there has been opposition to the project, chiefly from a residents’ group called Residents Against Intrusive Development (RAID). He feels their concerns are not supported by the facts.

“We are against the obvious destruction of our forestry and swamps,” says a statement from RAID. The group says that 2,400 acres of forest and swampland will be disturbed along with wildlife.

“Are we going to have to expand our school and buy more buses to accommodate the increase in population?” the group asks.

Increased taxes, population, and traffic are some of the group’s major concerns.

Attorney Andrew Brick of Albany, who represents Village Square Venture LLC, said the developers anticipate that 81 percent of the people buying homes or condominiums in Mont Luzerne will buy them as second homes. He said only 19 percent of the residents will live in the complex year-round. He said this should not overburden the local school systems.

Brick said the project will be built in nine phases over a 25- to 30-year period.

A total of 60 units will be part of the first phase.

The next step in the development project is to have Boswell Engineering of Albany develop site and engineering plans so that the Lake Luzerne Planning Board can start reviewing the plans.

Each of the project’s nine phases will require site plan review, Brick said. He said this review would start with the first phase in early 2012.

The land is on the other side of the mountain from the ski area, Brick said. He said future plans include a chair lift that would take residents of Mont Luzerne from their development to West Mountain for skiing.

The change in zoning would allow the developers to cluster homes and other structures on fewer than 700 acres, leaving more than 1,500 acres as open space.

Merlino said the biggest issues facing the project are where it will get its water supply and traffic from the project. The property is located between the Glens Falls Mountain Road to the north and Call Street in Lake Luzerne to the south.

He said public water would be available from the nearby town of Queensbury, which has a water filtration plant on the upper Hudson River.

Merlino said the property is “way up on the mountain” and should not be a burden on the approximately 5,000 residents of his town.

Safeguards

However, the town has been discussing the project for five years and feels it has built in enough safeguards to protect residents from all contingencies.

He said the zoning change is only viable for about two years. If the project does not move forward by that time the land returns to the previous zoning.

Brandt proposed a similar but much larger mountain project in 1989 called West Mountain Village.

This project envisioned 2,727 single-family homes and multi-family residential dwellings, a conference center, more than 500,000 square feet of retail/commercial uses, at least one golf course, and a 15,000-seat tennis arena, according to the generic environmental impact statement created for Mont Luzerne.

The impact statement notes that Mont Luzerne is a “less intense project for the property.”

The Mont Luzerne project would be served by an on-site water source and distribution system as well as an on-site sewer collection and treatment facilities that will be built by the developers.

Brick, the project attorney, said Mont Luzerne will offer a diverse mix of housing types and costs. “This will allow for a variety of housing opportunities in differing price ranges, which will maximize the project’s attractiveness and affordability for various market demographics,” says the impact statement.

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