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Saranac Lake board rezones land for veterans treatment center

Saranac Lake Village Board members pose for their official photograph on March 13. From left, front row, are Trustee Elias Pelletieri, Mayor Clyde Rabideau and Trustee John McEneany. From left, standing, are trustees Tom Catillaz and Jeff Branch and Village Manager John Sweeney.

Saranac Lake Village Board members pose for their official photograph on March 13. From left, front row, are Trustee Elias Pelletieri, Mayor Clyde Rabideau and Trustee John McEneany. From left, standing, are trustees Tom Catillaz and Jeff Branch and Village Manager John Sweeney. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— Saranac Lake Village Board members March 13 passed a law that rezones less than 2 acres of land on Kiwassa Road for the construction of a veterans treatment center.

This rezoning has been a contentious issue with neighbors, yet many who spoke at the public hearing before the board’s decision voiced approval for the center, even though the consensus was that communication about the project with neighbors in its early phase was poor.

“I no longer have the same level of concern as I did initially,” said Ray Scollin, of Kiwassa Road.

The treatment center will be built and operated by St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center under the Veterans Community Residence program.

In an effort to compromise with neighbors, 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.

One of those neighbors, Mark Sengenberger, told Village Board members that the buffer is “a positive improvement,” and there are some details that still need to be resolved during the site plan review.

“We think that the proposal as put forth at this point is reasonable,” Sengenberger said. “We hope that this works out as well as Mr. Ross would like it to for the benefit of the veterans, and we certainly hope that it ends up being a positive for the community.”

St. Joseph’s CEO Bob Ross ended the public hearing with a few remarks.

“I’ve been very pleased to have the dialogue with the neighbors,” Ross said, adding that he was also happy to have the village’s assistance during the planning process for the benefit of the community, St. Joseph’s and the veterans. “I think it represents that we can wind up with a win-win-win.”

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