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SL veterans treatment center public hearing set for March 13

Jon Vinograd, of Hayes Lane, addresses the Saranac Lake Village Board during the Jan. 23 meeting about his opposition to rezoning the Kiwassa Road parcel where the proposed Veterans Community Residence would be constructed because it would be taken off the tax rolls.

Jon Vinograd, of Hayes Lane, addresses the Saranac Lake Village Board during the Jan. 23 meeting about his opposition to rezoning the Kiwassa Road parcel where the proposed Veterans Community Residence would be constructed because it would be taken off the tax rolls. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— Village residents wishing to air concerns or well wishes of support for the proposed veterans treatment facility on Kiwassa Road will have another opportunity to do so March 13 during a public hearing.

The treatment center — which would be built and operated by St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center under the Veterans Community Residence program —has been the center of controversy, not because of its purpose but because of its location. Neighbors are concerned, in part, that the center will drive property values down and that the village will lose another residential area.

In an effort to compromise, St. Joseph’s plans to build only on the western 1.53 acres of a 2.97-acre parcel, leaving 1.44 acres as an open space buffer between the facility and the neighbors on Kiwassa Road.

In order for the treatment center to be constructed on the 1.53-acre site, the village needs to rezone the land from the K2 Zoning District to the L1 Zoning District. And that’s the subject of the public hearing, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 13 at the village offices, located on the second floor of the Harrietstown Town Hall.

The amendment to the Saranac Lake Zoning Map for this purpose has already been drafted as Local Law No. 01-2012. It is subject to the following conditions:

•The applicant needs to obtain a special use permit from the Planning Board.

•The applicant needs to obtain the rights to build on the land located within a “paper street” called Abenaki Road.

•The applicant needs to dedicate the eastern portion of the property, 1.44 acres, as open space.

•The applicant needs to waive additional building rights on the western portion of the property, limiting the construction to the new treatment facility.

St. Joseph’s currently operates a treatment center on 21.7 acres adjacent to the proposed Veterans Community Residence. The new 9,500-square-foot building would include 24 beds in 12 rooms, plus dining, recreation and office facilities. The program is designed to help veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is one of four centers that have received grant awards for this purpose by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. It will be the only such facility in northern New York and will be exclusively for men. St. Joseph’s will send all female referrals to the Samaritan Village in Ellenville, N.Y.; likewise, the Samaritan Village will send all male referrals to St. Joseph’s.

The Veterans Community Residence will be staffed by 15 full-time and four part-time employees.

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