Plattsburgh, N.Y. RV Park Plan Opposed, Likely Dead

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March 21, 2012 by   - () Leave a Comment

Plans for an RV park on Route 3 in the town of Plattsburgh, N.Y., may be withdrawn because neighbors expressed opposition.

Mark Varin wanted to build a 33-site park for RVs on the former Pine Haven Mobile Home Park property at 1733 Route 3, the Plattsburgh Press-Republican reported.

Numerous neighbors expressed opposition to the plan during a recent public hearing at a Plattsburgh Zoning Board of Appeals.

"I will more than likely withdraw my plan for the project," Varin told the Press-Republican on Tuesday (March 20).

He said he was surprised by the number of people opposed to the plan and the emotionally charged nature of some of the comments. Varin said that was not the impression he got when he met with some neighbors before presenting his plan.


Attorney Tom Murnane provided the two boards with details of the project at the meetings. Varin has a contract to buy the property if the park is approved.

The park would use about 4.5 acres on the 83-acre property. Murnane said steep slopes between the proposed park and the Saranac River would hamper development of other portions of the property.

"We're not looking to develop it more than we're showing you," he said.

Murnane said the park would be available for recreation vehicles and camper trailers, not tents.

The sites would be about 34 feet by 60 feet and would be laid out to retain as many trees as possible on the property.

The park would have town water but would need a private sewer system. That would require approval from the Clinton County Health Department and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.


A two-story building on the property would be converted to a manager's office and restrooms/showers.

"We plan on having an on-site manager on the property at all times," Murnane said.

The plan requires a use variance because the property is zoned for residential use. A campground is not an allowed use in a residential zone.


At the meeting, Michael Mihalic said he lives on the north side of Route 3 about 100 feet from where the park would be situated, on the road's south side. He said the former Pine Haven property is simply not the right place for a campground.

The neighborhood finally starts to quiet down at night as traffic along Route 3 dwindles, Mihalic said, but that's when an RV park gets loud.

"The noise from dozens of drunken parties will be heard far and wide," he said.

Paul Cole, another nearby resident, said the best way to describe his feelings about the proposal is outrage.

Cole said RV park rules would most likely be ineffective.

"To think campers are going to follow rules is absurd," he said.

He would be surrounded by campers, Cole said, and likened that scenario to the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds." He would name the new movie "The Campers."

Jeff and Michelle Rugar also spoke against the plan. Mr. Rugar said he's lived in the area his whole life.

He is concerned about smoke from more than 30 campfires drifting to neighboring properties, as well as fires spreading from sparks.

The plan would also bring a large number of strangers into a tight-knit community, he said, and he is concerned his children would come to view strangers as an everyday occurrence.

Mrs. Rugar said their neighborhood is a posted Neighborhood Watch zone, which gives her peace of mind as her children play in the yard. She wants them to be able to enjoy their pool and hot tub without worrying who might be lurking nearby.


Tom Magliente is the developer of the nearby Blueberry Hill subdivision.

"This is a residential zone. An RV park is not a permitted use," he said. "There is a reason for that."

Magliente said he is concerned about what would happen if Varin later decides to sell the property.

While the park is intended to be seasonal, many of the residents said that is the only time they can really enjoy being outdoors on their property.

Plattsburgh Town Councilor Tom Wood said that granting variances such as this would continue to set a precedent of changing the nature of entire neighborhoods.

"We (the town of Plattsburgh) have a set of zoning regulations in place. I would like to see that enforced and not continually changed," he said. "I feel we should go by the zoning we have in place."

Neighbors also submitted a petition with more than 125 signatures expressing opposition to the project.

The Planning Board plans to send letters to other agencies saying it is seeking lead-agency status in the State Environmental Quality Review Act process. If the Planning Board were able to make a environmental review determination in the project's favor, it would still requires a use variance and Planning Board approval of a detailed preliminary plan.

Varin said he wishes neighbors would have presented their concerns to him before he went before the two town boards.

"A little communication would have gone a long way."


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