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Laurels Developers Begin Review Process

By John Emerson
MONTICELLO — April 7, 2000 -- The Thompson Planning Board will get its first chance to specifically see what the owners of the former Laurels Hotel property on Sackett Lake have in mind next week when New Horizon Recreation, Inc. begins its site plan review.
Supervisor Tony Cellini announced Tuesday night that the developers of the former hotel presented a check to the town for $19,000 to cover engineering costs associated with the review process, which is expected to take several months.
The group will initially present their plans for a new hotel, golf course and clubhouse on the 325-acre property, Cellini said. Other facets of the development will most likely be presented later.
When they originally approached the town last year with their plans for redeveloping the property, New Horizon officials included such things as a large amphitheater, auditorium-music hall, spa, homes, retail space, cottages, pavilions and other attractions, in addition to the hotel and golf course. Late last year, the town board approved a zone change for several parcels to make the entire property a single zone, based on the planning board’s recommendation.
The zoning change was requested because the exact location of each attraction was not yet finalized, and the patchwork zoning patterns allowed some uses in some areas and other uses in other locations. The single zone permits New Horizon to place the amenities anywhere they want without interfering with the overall configuration of the land or its planned uses.
Planning Board head Jim Lyttle said the State Environmental Quality Review program has already begun, and he is looking forward to seeing detailed plans for the development.
“At this point, I don’t foresee any major problems with the Laurels project that might hold things up, but until we take a look, it’s hard to say,” he said. “I’m anxious to work with them any way we can to get this project moving forward.”
The Laurels, once one of many resorts that dotted Sullivan County, closed in the 1970s and sat idle for many years. The main hotel building burned down in 1980 over the Fourth of July weekend.
The hotel property also played a role in the savings and loan scandal during the 1980s and was taken over by the federal government. The county acquired the property in the 1990s and eventually sold it to New Horizon after several developers failed to follow through on their attempts to rebuild the resort.

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