If a proposal by the chairman of the Lake George Park Commission is adopted, Lake George camps will be exempt from pending Adirondack Park Agency (APA) regulations banning rooftop sun decks on boathouses.
At a heated public hearing on the Adirondack Park Agency’s proposed rules, held at the Lake George Town Hall on January 7, Lake George Park Commission chairman Bruce Young said the APA should authorize the Commission to continue regulating boathouses and docks on Lake George.
“I don’t see what the APA will do that is different from what the Lake George Park Commission does now,” said Young. “There should be provisions in the new regulations exempting the Lake George Park, and I would hope that the APA would honor our request.”
Adirondack Park Agency chairman Curt Stiles will meet with Young to discuss his proposition, said Keith McKeever, a spokesman for the agency.
Speaking one day after the public hearing, McKeever said that APA staff members have already expressed interest in Young’s proposal.
“Chairman Young made a valid point that overlapping regulations can be confusing and redundant, and that can lead to inefficiency,” said McKeever. “Deferring to the Lake George Park Commission would provide the Adirondack Park Agency with an opportunity to adhere to Governor Paterson’s directive to save taxpayers’ money by sharing services and eliminating duplication.”
Mike White, the executive director of the Lake George Park Commission, said he was not informed of Young’s proposal in advance of the public hearing.
But, he said, the Commission has a history of assuming authority from other state agencies to regulate activities on Lake George.
“We’ve directly co-ordinated with other agencies in the rule-making process to avoid duplication, and we’ve been delegated authority by other agencies to issue permits for some regulated activities,” said White.
If the new rules are adopted, authority to regulate boathouses could easily be transferred back to the Lake George Park Commission through a Memorandum of Understanding, said Peter Bauer, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George and a member of the APA’s Technical Advisory List, which the agency consulted when drafting the proposed regulations.
Without that delegation of authority, any new boathouses constructed on Lake George would probably be shorter and smaller than most of those currently permitted by the Lake George Park Commission and local governments.
Under the proposed rule, boat houses will not be allowed to exceed 15 feet in height, can be no larger than 900 square feet and must have pitched roofs.
At the public hearing on January 7, the requirement that roofs be pitched drew the heaviest fire from Lake George residents, contractors and boathouse builders.
According to Jeff Provost, the owner of a firm specializing in the construction of docks and boat houses, “Boathouses with flat roofs are the most popular type of boathouses in this region; it’s what people want.”
The flat roofs are typically used as sun decks, which increases the homeowner’s access to the lakefront and the value of his property.
Because boat houses are exempt from APA rules prohibiting structures within waterfront setbacks, the agency was compelled to develop a definition of boathouses that limited their use to boat storage.
That led to the requirement that roofs be pitched, said Keith McKeever.
It’s also something of an aesthetic mandate, he said.
In 2002, when the Adirondack Park Agency last revised its boat house regulations, the Agency was accused of forcing home owners to build flat, unattractive structures when it contemplated limiting the height of boathouses to 16 feet.
The Agency rejected that provision and chose instead to allow for a wider variety of designs and styles.
According to an APA memo, though, the 2002 regulation was too vague to be easily implemented, and new rules were drafted.
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