Customizing 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.