December 9, 1988
Planning Board faced with Wenonah subdivision
By PATRICK KEYES SARANAC LAKE — The Harrietstown Planning Board has until Jan. 31 to decide on a preliminary plan for a 20-lot subdivision in one of the great camps on Upper Saranac Lake.
Dr. John Shutze, a Glens Falls dentist, heads the Wenonah Lodge Corporation which bought the Wenonah Lodge in March of 1988 for $1.28 million. Shutze was at the planning board's regular meeting Wednesday to present his plans to turn the resort into a residential community.
The development requires the preliminary approval of the town planning board before it can be submitted to the state Department of Health and the Adirondack Park Agency.
The camp consists of 54 acres divided by Panther Mountain Road, which splits the property into parcels of 14 and 40 acres, with the smaller chunk on the shore of Upper Saranac Lake.
Shutze plans to convert the existing camp buildings on the waterfront into seven individual single family homes. He also wants to add four new lots on the side of the road closest to the water, and nine large lots across the road.
Some of the lots are smaller than the lot sizes required by the town's zoning ordinance and the APA regulations, but they will share about four acres of common area to compensate for it, according to the proposal. The APA will have jurisdiction on the waterfront portion of the land, but because the other half of the development has only nine lots, it is not in the APA's hands. The APA only has jurisdiction in subdivisions often or more.
There are seven separate parts to the complex, most of which are connected — some by covered walkways, and others share common walls.
Dennis Phillips, Shutze's Glens Falls attorney, said it was up to the planning board to determine if the present building could be classified as individual buildings, called a "cluster development."
The Wenonah people said they would improve the sewer system by pumping the refuse into a large septic tank. The system currently in use involves treatment of the waste. The waste then leeches through the ground, and eventually ends up in the lake.
Phillips also said that if winter use is desired, the existing water system in the lodge, which is supplied from above-ground sources, would not be usable. Wells could be dug at each site for year-round use.
Each lot in the new part of the development across the road from the lake would have its own well and septic system.
The entire development would be run by a homeowners' association. It would use collected dues to maintain the common area, which includes a beach, the existing tennis courts, and the community driveways.
There is a road to the existing lodge from Panther Mountain Road which would be maintained. Easements would be provided to let people cross other lots to reach their own.
Major Day, a member of the lake association, said he opposed the project because of the potential for pollution.
"The camp will be overdeveloped," he said. "You'll be polluting the lake with gas and oil from boats and with too many people."
Thomas Seymour, chairman of the planning board, gave the public until Dec. 21 to file written statements for or against the project with the board.
The camp, built in 1915 by Jules Bache, is one of the more prominent Great Camps on the Upper Saranac Lake. It housed many guests, including statesmen, captains of industry and celebrities. One of the cottages serves as a sort of shrine to the Ziegfield Follies Girls who vacationed at the camp often.