Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lake George Effort To Reduce Permit Violations

Lake George DockCustomizing a dock on Lake George? There may be nothing in the Lake George Park Commission’s regulations explicitly allowing or prohibiting some modification or embellishment, but according Molly Gallagher, the Lake George Park Commission’s permit administrator, there are precedents.

“Some of these precedents for what is allowed or for what requires a permit were in my head, or in the head of the Commission’s first executive director, Mike White,” Gallagher told the Commissioners at a recent monthly meeting. “We also have Records of Decisions and individual resolutions. Now I’m putting some of these on paper in the form of a memorandum that will aid you in your deliberations and help guide administrators as well as dock builders and homeowners.”

Regulations cannot address every contingency or include every new product in advance of its invention, so the memorandum will serve as intermediate guide, something between an administrator’s discretion and a new regulation, said Dave Wick, the Commission’s executive director.

“There are some odd ball structures out there, which might not seem like a big deal unless you’re a neighbor and your view is obstructed,” said Wick.

“The more of these we can commit to paper, the better,” said Gallagher. “Dock builders and others will have a better idea of what will trigger an enforcement action.”

Gallagher presented a draft of the memorandum to a gathering of lawyers, dock builders, landscapers, marina owners and others at a workshop in February at the Fort William Henry.

“We’re focusing on a number of items that have never been addressed. And after thirty years, we’re still looking at new things,” said Gallagher

The memorandum circulated by Gallagher stated that permits are not required for accessories and incidental structures associated with docks and wharfs like diving boards, slides, temporary timbers used between docks in the off-season, as well as boat whips and cleats.

On the other hand, permits are required to change or add ramps, new square footage on docks, independent tie-off points, sundecks and permanent frame structures and rails and fences.

In principle, any modification that extends the height of a boathouse above 16 feet or enlarges the approved area of a dock will fall within the jurisdiction of the Commission and require a permit, said Gallagher.

Structures or items not listed in the document will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. “If you’re not sure, ask us,” said Gallagher.

According to Dave Wick, an even bigger problem for the regulatory agency is presented when a wharf or boathouse is built that, inadvertently or not, violates the conditions of its permit.

When that happens, it may take two or more years to identify the violation and demand a remedy, said Wick.

To limit those occasions, the Lake George Park Commission will visit new construction sites on a regular basis “as any building inspector would, to ensure real time compliance,” said Wick.


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Anthony F. Hall is the editor and publisher of the Lake George Mirror.

Anthony grew up in Warrensburg and after an education that included studying with beat poet Gregory Corso on an island in the Aegean, crewing a schooner in Hawaii, traveling through Greece and Turkey studying Byzantine art and archeology, and a stint at Lehman Brothers, he returned to the Adirondacks and took a job with legendary state senator Ron Stafford.

In 1998, Anthony and his wife Lisa acquired the Lake George Mirror, once part of a chain of weekly newspapers owned by his father Rob Hall.

Established in the 1880s, the Mirror is America’s oldest resort newspaper.

3 Responses

  1. Keith Silliman says:

    “Some of the precedents for what is allowed were in my head”

    Seriously? Sounds like the pornography standard.

    Absolutely unenforceable.

    As a lawyer– practicing in the field of environmental regulation,I find this statement to be incredible.

    There is a process by which land use regulations, policies and guidance are adopted, and become enforceable. “In my head” is not part of that process.

  2. Tim-Brunswick says:

    ABSOLUTELY!!……………..Regulate….Legislate…..require permits for everything and/or course let’s not forget penalties for violations………………I love New York!

    • John Warren says:

      You might find when you grow up that you care more about your neighbors and the people who endanger themselves to protect your life and property.

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