LAC SARANAC – The Saranac Waterfront Lodge on Tuesday obtained approval from the village development council for several additions to the hotel property, some of which were already in place.
The lodge and Dack Bikes, a self-service bicycle company that set up a bicycle rental center overhanging the hotel’s front door, needed a site plan amendment from board to rent bikes and boats to the public, among other changes. Saranac Lake Development Code Administrator Paul Blaine said these services were not in the original site plan and represented a change in land use from commercial to commercial.
The Dack Bikes Bike Center went live in July and people have been renting bikes there for months. The lodge has also rented kayaks, paddleboards, and motorboats to the public during the summer.
Blaine said he had authorized bicycle and boat rentals throughout the summer even though they did not yet have the proper approval – as he sees no immediate issues with the facilities, and he thinks that they are good for the city – provided the owners seek the appropriate approval across the village. The owners obtained this approval on Tuesday.
“I feel like if they came back it would have been approved anyway”, Development board member Adam Harris said. “Right, it would have been nice if they had gotten the approval first.”
Blaine said no fines would be imposed on business owners for starting up before village approval.
If business owners want to add more facilities, they will need to ask Blaine – who will decide if this merits board approval – before installation, Blaine said.
Lodge asset manager Tom Kammerer said the process of getting these changes delayed getting the hotel’s final occupancy certificate. Blaine said the hotel has so far been operating with a temporary occupancy certificate. He said the lodge just needed to get Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification to get its final certificate.
There are currently two kayak and paddleboard racks at the hotel on the shore of Pontiac Bay, which the board has approved.
Development board member Rick Weber asked if the Adirondack Park agency should approve these facilities on the shore of Flower Lake. Garso said the hotel had not checked, but added that the kayak racks are not permanent. He said they looked more like a picnic table than a structure.
The board of directors has authorized the hotel to rent kayaks and paddleboards to the public.
Development board chairwoman Donna Difara questioned whether that would mean the hotel would compete with local kayaking companies, although she acknowledged that the board cannot factor this into its decision.
Joe Garso, senior engineer for North Woods Engineering, which works at the hotel, said 96% of rentals are made to guests, according to data as of Aug. 10.
The hotel initially planned to have two fishing boats and two pontoon boats available for hire for guests only. The hotel chartered eight boats to non-guests over the summer. Again, Blaine said he was okay with this as long as the hotel had permission later.
Development Board member Bill Domenico said his biggest concern was to maintain the shoreline and the water quality there, but he also acknowledged that Flower Lake is the “sacrificial” Lake.
Dack Bikes plans to set up bike pick-up and drop-off points around the village in the coming year. The hotel hub would be the largest in the city with 12 bicycles. There are currently seven bikes for rent there.
Dack Bikes owner Callie Shelton said she plans to install five more somewhere on the property. These five were originally installed by the dumpsters at the back of the parking lot, but the hotel removed them because they hampered the overturning of the truck. The council decided to approve the 12 bikes and delegate the choice of where they should go on the property to Blaine.
The main concern was whether this would impact traffic on a busy section of National Route 86 passing near the hotel. The board saw no problem with that. They questioned whether the hotel has sufficient parking for guests and the public, but said it was not for them to decide.
“If they create a parking problem, it is a problem that they will have to manage” said Domenico.
Shelton feared the village would limit bicycle rentals to hotel guests only, which she said she was not prepared to do. The council assured him that he did not want to restrict rentals.
Council members appreciated that the bikes had a fixed return location, so they weren’t left all over the place. Domenico said he was concerned they might be like rental motorized scooters in some towns cluttering the sidewalks.
The board also approved signage for the lodge and its Boathouse restaurant, which were already there; an observation platform between the hotel and the water, which is already installed; new screening of dumpsters and landscaping of trees; and a new path from the parking lot to the hotel, which council requested to be created using concrete pavers.