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Allowing tall buildings prompts debate at Lake George zoning forum

Lake George John Herzog, former president of the local seniors' club, talks at a Lake George Village zoning forum March 25 about how changes in the existing ordinances are likely to boost local prosperity. In addition to stringent architectural guidelines for new buildings and renovations, the proposed zoning changes would allow buildings on some parcels downtown up to 72 feet high, rather than the existing 3-story limit

Lake George John Herzog, former president of the local seniors' club, talks at a Lake George Village zoning forum March 25 about how changes in the existing ordinances are likely to boost local prosperity. In addition to stringent architectural guidelines for new buildings and renovations, the proposed zoning changes would allow buildings on some parcels downtown up to 72 feet high, rather than the existing 3-story limit Photo by Thom Randall.

— The design restrictions call for more green space, additional setbacks and improved architectural elements on both new buildings and extensive renovations.

Aesthetic requirements include include allowing only earth-tone and historic colors, mandating that doorways be recessed, and that windows be appropriately spaced and sized and that architecture be authentic and in harmony with other existing buildings.

Design standards would include prohibiting long, flat, blank walls and rooflines, and calling for the use of dormers, parapets, stepped roofs, balconies, cornices, plus wall offsets and recesses to create visual appeal.

Resident John Herzog said he approved of changes that would boost the local economy.

“We have to do something to get industry motivated,” he said.

Although Mayor Blais said the board members had not made any decisions, each council member said they were in favor of the changes.

Village Board member John Root said he supported the height increase, although the proposed six-story hotel would block the view from his home.

“If I want a view of the lake, I can always walk down the street and see what I want,” he said, adding that the height extension was needed to boost prosperity and prevent insolvency of the school district.

Councilman John Earl also endorsed the plan, and said that growing upward was what the APA was encouraging, instead of allowing horizontal sprawl.

“This is a turning point for the Village — and hopefully we’re right,” he said.

Councilman Ray Perry said growing upward would make a more walkable community, and that additional development would help the the town and village with their financial distress.

“We’re struggling not to have a tax increase, and there’s an uphill battle ahead of us with the economy as it is,” he said.

Councilman Joe Mastrodomenico also said he was in favor of the changes.

“The village has to grow somewhere,” he said. “this is what we’ve got to do.”

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