Conflicts of Interest
By REBECCA STEFFAN, Enterprise Staff Writer
LAKE PLACID Some of those concerned with a proposed condominium development downtown have also warned of potential conflicts of interest between the Hilton Lake Placid, which is proposing the development, and adjoining landowners who hold positions with the local government bodies that will decide its fate.
Rob and Patricia Grant live on Signal Hill, and their property adjoins the Lake View Motel property where the proposed 46-unit condominium complex would be constructed.
Grant wrote a letter to Lake Placid/North Elba Zoning Board
of Appeals Chairman Kenneth Jubin Monday expressing his concerns over what he
said could be several conflicts of interest between ZBA members and property owners
adjoining the proposed building site on Signal Hill.
Members of the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board issued a series of recommendations to the Joint Zoning Board of Appeals last night on the controversial Hilton condominium project.
The advice came after ZBA Chairman Ken Jubin asked for the review boards advisory opinion on the Hiltons plan for a five-story, 46-unit condo complex on the site of the existing Lake View Motel.
The project needs several variances from the ZBA before it can come to the review board, including height and residential setback variances.
Review Board Chairman Bill Hurley asked his fellow board members to limit their recommendations to the variances.
Hurley suggested the ZBA request information on what the complex would look like if it was built without the variances. They should show what a building built to code would look like, he said.
He also recommended the ZBA get additional pictures of the proposed structure from the lower portion of Saranac Avenue. The amount of greenspace to be lost in front of the structure was also discussed. And board vice-chair Olga Krone said a third-party should review the visual impact studies prepared by the Hiltons consultants.
Krone wanted to get into more specific recommendations, but Hurley said it was too soon. All the information isnt before us yet, he said.
Hurley will be sending a letter to the ZBA outlining their suggestions.
The ZBA has also asked the joint town and village Planning Commission for advisory opinions on the Hilton project. John Hopkinson, a commission member, told the review board theyll be delivering their comments to the ZBA by December 13.
Meanwhile, allegations of conflict of interest surrounding those wholl be reviewing the project were also discussed last night.
Rob and Pat Grant, who live next door to the proposed project site, wrote a letter to Ken Jubin, the ZBA chairman, describing possible conflicts because the Hilton wants to buy adjoining property owned by Bill Hurley Sr.
While he acknowledged that the Hilton has expressed an interest in his parents home, Bill Hurley, the review board chairman, said no offer has been made or contract signed. And the board hasnt received an application. At this point, bringing up recusal is very premature, Hurley said.
Board member Peter Roland also acknowledged that the hotel company has talked with his father about buying his home. But issues of conflict of interest dont have to be decided now, he said.
ZBA and review board attorney Tim Smith, however, notified Jubin in writing that hes recusing himself as ZBA counsel in the Hilton case to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Smiths law partner, Janet Bliss, is the daughter of Bill Hurley Sr.
The ZBA will hold a public hearing on the variances December 18.