Village board considering “discontinuation” of Balsam Ave.

by Dan McClelland
The village board is considering selling Balsam Ave. to the owners of Raquette River Brewing  to allow them access to a lot behind and above their popular brewery where they'd like to build a production brewery.
At last week's village board meeting Mayor Paul Maroun distributed a letter from the brewery owners, Mark Jessie and Joe Hockey, regarding the discontinuation of Balsam Ave. as a village street and set March 21 at 6p.m. as a public hearing on the issue.
A year ago this month the brewery owners asked the village to extend Balsam to access the lot currently owned by the Sarazen family and the undeveloped corner of Balsam and Berkley.  Village leaders sent the request to their attorney, Nathan Race, for his consideration.
Speaking to the village board a year ago Joe Hockey said “Balsam Street would need to be extended approximately 150 feet to provide access to the property. The extension would be built through a wetland. I contacted Adirondack Park Agency (APA) biologist Mark Rooks to look at the proposal. It was determined that the project would require a permit issued by the APA bypassing the JIF process. It is approximated that 7,500 square feet of wetland would be disturbed. This would require the village to mitigate (create new wetland) approximately 15,000 square feet. Mr. Rooks, while looking at wetland maps of the village identified a possible mitigation site.”
It was recently discovered that the street is actually owned by the town and at a recent meeting of the town board, the officials took steps to transfer it to the village, which typically owns streets in the village corporation.
Extending the street to the Sarazen lot will require crossing a local stream with a small bridge or large culvert and filling in some wetland areas.  Under Adirondack Park Agency law, when a wetland is filled, a wetland area at least twice its size must be created.
If the village steps away and sells the street, the sale would put the responsibility for and  maintenance of  the existing road, extending it farther to the private lot  and any required filling of the wetlands to accomplish the extension on any new owner.  In this case it would most likely be Mr. Jessie and Mr. Hockey.
Mayor Paul Maroun noted briefly that evening that the discontinuation of the street requires several steps for the village.
The only person to comment on the issue that evening was Trustee Ron LaScala, who said the brewery owners now own both sides of the short street, since Joe Hockey's recent purchase of the house at 137 Main Street.  “For us to continue the street will required a considerable investment in engineering and construction costs.  It may be better to discontinue (ownership) of the street!”
He said with the brewery's planned purchase of the lot for the production brewery and the owners' current ownership of both sides of the street, the street holds little use as a public street for the village.
Mark Jessie said over the weekend the construction of a larger-scale production brewery to produce more product for their patrons and to increase distribution is still very much apart of their plans.