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Potsdam zoning officials OK proposed hotel site plan

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POTSDAM — Village zoning officials have given the go-ahead for construction of the proposed Hampton Inn on Market Street.

Project architect Amy M. Franco of Clough, Harbour & Associates sought an area variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday because the three-story, 95-room hotel would exceed the 40-foot maximum height, largely because of a proposed decorative crown on the roof. The cornice would reach 44.6 feet and would be used to mount the hotel’s sign.

“The building proportions are the Hilton standard, which form the building prototype. It is a typical building design that is recognized with the Hampton Inn and Suites architectural design,” Ms. Franco wrote in her application for a variance.

The zoning board voted unanimously to grant the area variance to James E. Sheehan, a local businessman who owns the lots on which the hotel would be built, currently occupied by Scoopuccino’s and Ton’s Sports Bar. When Mr. Sheehan sells his property to the hotel’s developer, Vision Hotels of Corning, the developer will be permitted to exceed the height limit, according to Frederick J. Hanss, director of planning and development for Potsdam.

Zoning board members agreed that the code infringement would not be substantial. “It’s part of the brand, and it’s not problematic,” board member Bill Vitek said.

“We could ask for a smaller (cornice) but it wouldn’t fit with the rest of the building,” board member Edward M. Komara added.

The next step is for Code Enforcement Officer Larry J. Colbert to approve the site plans, after which construction may begin. The village Planning Board accepted the site plan last month.

The project is expected to cost $6 million to $7 million.

Ms. Franco could not provide a specific timetable for the project but said, “I think they’re ready to start pretty much as soon as we can.”

Mr. Hanss said he was impressed that the architect managed to use a triangular lot for the project and prepare an effective site plan that was otherwise within the area’s zoning code.

He previously noted that a recent marketing study showed a lack of hotel rooms in the village. It recommended up to 120 more rooms, which would benefit the local economy, Mr. Hanss said.

Studies show that “for every dollar spent on a hotel room, one dollar is spent on gas, food or local shopping,” Mr. Hanss said.

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