The front lines in the battle over upland development continues to be Lake George. In the latest skirmish, a recent approval of a controversial, three lot subdivision atop a prominent ridge in Bolton Landing has prompted The FUND for Lake George and Lake George Waterkeeper to bring a lawsuit against the Town of Bolton.
The organizations filed the suit against the Town of Bolton’s Planning Board, Zoning Board and Zoning Administrator late last week. According to the suit, the application should have received a variance from the Zoning Board in order for it to be approved by the Planning Board. “The approval granted by the Planning Board violates the Town Code for driveway width as well as violating the Town of Bolton Zoning Law, because the applicant never obtained a variance to exceed allowable clearing limits for road/driveway construction,” argued Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky.
According to Navitsky, the mile long road to the top of the Pinnacle was described as a shared driveway. “Under the Bolton Zoning and Planning codes, a driveway should only be 16 feet in width. The Planning Board issued a waiver, exempting the applicant’s access road from the Town’s Planning code restrictions of a 16-foot width. The Planning Board’s approval authorized a “shared driveway” of 20 feet in width with two 2-foot shoulders, totaling 24 feet,” said Navitsky.
“What the Planning Board is calling a shared driveway is a road in every way. We’re challenging the Planning Board’s authorization because what it authorized is not what’s been designed. The applicant is planning a road that is eight times as wide as the 24 foot width approved by the Planning Board,” said Navitsky. “This is a clear case where rules and standards exist for a reason. Roads should not involve acres of clear cuts and traverse steep slopes. The extent of disturbance and excessive clearing involved in this proposal will scar the Pinnacle for generations.”
The suit also alleges that the Town Zoning Board of Appeals should have issued a variance to permit excessive clearing. “Town Zoning Law states that clearing for driveways shall not exceed 16 feet. The Zoning Administrator should have recognized the need for a variance once she reviewed the plans and referred the matter to the Zoning Board,” said Navitsky.
“We asked the Town Boards and Town officials numerous times for an explanation of how a shared driveway that’s supposed to be 24 feet wide was approved given that it involves eight acres of clearcutting, widths of over 150 feet, and will be built on grades of over 25%? We never received a response” said Navitsky. “We feel like we attempted every means practical to work with the Town, but they refused to answer these basic questions. Now we’ll let the courts settle the matter.”
“This is an important legal issue because it seeks to clarify the Bolton code and establish an important precedent for placement and design of these shared driveways and roads to upland developments. As more development continues in the uplands of Bolton, many accessed by long driveways or roads over steep terrain, the issues of clearing widths and construction on steep slopes are very important” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the FUND for Lake George. “In this instance it appears to us that the Town is violating its own local laws.”
Photo: The Pinnacle from Cat Mountain, courtesy Lake George Waterkeeper.
A bill that would have limited the sale of phosphorus-based fertilizers linked to algae blooms has been gutted by lobbyists’ pressures on legislators.
Among other things, the new version of the bill would prohibit municipalities from enacting stronger regulations without the authorization of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
“This was a compromise; the industry did not want local governments passing more restrictive laws once a statewide law was enacted,” said a source within the DEC. “The agriculture community is freaking out about the bill as it stands now,” the source added. Dan Macentee, a spokesman for Betty Little, Lake George’s representative in the State Senate, confirmed that additional amendments were being drafted to address the concerns of the New York State Farm Bureau. Those amendments are likely to weaken the bill even further, a Senate source said. “The bill’s sponsor, Senator Antoine Thompson, is amenable to amending even his own bills,” said the Senate source. A spokesman for the New York Farm Bureau did not return calls seeking comment before press time.
The current version of the bill restricts the use of fertilizers containing phosphorus within twenty feet of a water body, rather than prohibiting the sale of fertilizers with phosphorus throughout the state, as last year’s version of the bill did.
Prohibiting the use of fertilizers with phosphorus is a crucial step in protecting Lake George’s water quality, said Peter Bauer, executive director of the Fund for Lake George. “Legislation to control phosphorus pollution from household cleaning products and lawn fertilizers is critical to help manage and reduce water pollution. Lake George is enormously important to the local economy. Lake George’s high property values, robust tourism season, sport fishing and boating industries, all require clean water,” said Bauer. If the current version of the bill is enacted, New York State’s regulation of phosphorus would be far weaker than a town-wide ban proposed by Lake George Supervisor Frank McCoy, said Bauer.
The Town of Lake George will consider the proposal as early as June 14, when it is scheduled to conduct a public hearing on the proposed ban. If the ordinance is adopted, Lake George will not only be the first town within the watershed to limit phosphorus, but the first community within the Adirondack Park to take that step.
Lake George Town officials officials have posted a survey on the Town’s website to solicit comments about the proposal. The survey will be found on the left side of the site under the heading “Give us your opinion,” along with a conceptual description of the proposal. Opinions submitted through the website will be presented at the public hearing, said McCoy.
Illustration courtesy Lawn to Lake, a program of the Lake Champlain Basin Program.
Lake George’s Supervisor wants his town to become the first within the Lake George watershed to ban the use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus.
If the ordinance that Supervisor Frank McCoy has proposed is adopted in June, Lake George will not only be the first town within the watershed to limit phosphorus, but the first community within the Adirondack Park to take that step, said John Sheehan, a spokesman for the Adirondack Council.
“The Lake George Park Commission should follow the town’s lead and ban phosphorus in fertilizers everywhere on the lake,” said Sheehan. » Continue Reading.
Three Lake George environmental conservation groups have released a final design for the West Brook Gaslight Village Project, a stormwater treatment system that will be located on the parcel on the south side of West Brook. Dubbed the “West Brook Conservation Initiative,” the Lake George Association, the FUND for Lake George and the Lake George Land Conservancy, have been working together to develop the project under the terms of a conservation easement they jointly hold with three municipal partners: the town and the village of Lake George, and Warren County.
The final plan includes restored wetlands and an environmental park that will be built on 4.9 acres south of West Brook Road where the Charley’s Saloon building stands south of the former Gaslight Village. The entire 12-acre project represents one of the most important conservation efforts in Lake George’s history, according to advocates. Designed by the Chazen Companies, the plan for the south parcel of the property will restore wetlands to naturally slow stormwater generated from the Route 9 corridor and adjoining properties, capture sediment and filter pollutants which currently make there way to a growing delta at the mouth of West Brook. Due to the filling of historic wetlands, channeling of the stream, and development in the stream’s watershed, West Brook today is the single largest source of contaminant — pollution, nutrients and sediment — entering the south basin of Lake George. The delta at the mouth of the brook has grown to over 7,000 square meters. The land was once part of the Delaware & Hudson Railroad Yards, and later a string of attractions related to the property next door which housed Gaslight Village from 1959 to 1989.
The project will feature a settling pond to trap and retain sediment, a shallow marsh where wetland plantings will store and treat run-off, and a gravel wetland where dense root mats, crushed stone and a microbe rich environment will improve the water quality before it is conveyed to West Brook. Environmental engineers believe that the best way to treat stormwater is through natural processes of wetlands, where water is captured and retained for a period of time and allowing sediment and nutrients to be dropped out as the water is cleansed.
Project engineers estimate that 90% of the sediment will be successfully treated by this system and over one-half of the nutrients will be removed. The wetland systems are designed to also provide an open environmental park, with interpretative signage, nature trails, elevated walkways, a pavilion, an outdoor classroom, gazebo, overlooks and picnic areas for the general public.
”This project will capture and treat millions of gallons of stormwater that annually flow into the lake untreated,” Peter Bauer, executive director of the FUND for Lake George, said. The project has been carefully designed to require minimal or no maintenance according to Bauer including the use of drought resistant meadow-like grasses will require no mowing, watering or fertilizing. Minimal mowing is expected to be necessary in selected areas close to West Brook Road for aesthetic purposes, although the grass seed to be used there is a mix of fescues that will produce a low-growing and drought tolerant grass. New native plants, shrubs and trees will require little or no weeding, pruning or fertilizing. Periodically – after a few years of maturity – the wetland plantings will need to be thinned and excess plant materials removed.
Some $200,000 in state and federal funding will be used to complete the construction of the project, but money is still needed to repay for the land. In addition to the $2.1 million loan on the Gaslight Village purchase by the LGA and the FUND, the Lake George Land Conservancy is carrying a $2.7 million loan on the 1,400-acre Berry Pond tract, which protects the upland watershed for West Brook.
Demolition of Charley’s Saloon is expected to begin in mid-June, following the conclusion of Americade; construction of the storm water management complex will begin after the Adirondack Nationals Car Show in early September.
In limited areas of the Adirondack Park, an understated excitement built gradually throughout the day yesterday as selections were made for the 2010 Adirondack Bracket.
Bracket pairings were made by combining the top 28 randomly selected entrants from two lists (a longer list of general Adirondackiana, and a shorter list of 2009’s Adirondack headliners). Four more slots were reserved for last year’s final four, including 2009 Bracket champion Stewart’s Ice Cream Shops. The remaining slots will be filled later this week by a play-in round which sets four randomly selected entrants from a list suggested by our readers, against the Bracket judges’ “Hand o’ God” choices (our favorites that somehow missed the first cut). A preview of the play-in round follows the jump. . . So here is how things stack up for this week’s play-in round:
Game one pits late 19th/early 20th Century painter Winslow Homer (who spent time throughout his career at the North Woods Club in Minerva—his last visit to the Adirondacks occurring one hundred years ago this summer, shortly before his death), against the frankenpine: that towering synthesis of artifice and nature, and itself a subject of contemporary Adirondack painting (not to mention inspiration for an excellent band).
Saranac Lake’s doyens of drill. . . the Idas of March. . . those angels of aluminum and mesh—the incomparable Lawnchair Ladies—sashay into the Bracket against an equally formidable lineup of local adirondack ski hills. This squad of impressive topography (talking about the ski hills, now), once thought to be heading downhill, fast, has made a strong comeback this winter led by Big Tupper and Hickory. The list also includes a couple cross country ski mountains, one of which boasts the only ski mountain palindrome in the Adirondacks: “O! Dewey. Aye, we do!” This match up could go either way, but one thing you can count on: Chairs will certainly be lifted, and might be thrown.
Game three features perhaps the most interesting play-in pairing, with Olmstedville’s Pete Hornbeck and his fleet of featherweight canoes taking on Lake George’s Winter Carnival, the village’s annual string of wintertime events held every weekend throughout the month of February. Any other year this would have been no contest as canoes are not much use on a solid lake surface, especially with a lot of cars and snow machines and dog sleds racing around. This year, however, warm weather forced cancellation of some carnival events, premature demolition of the ice palace and relocation of the dog sled races from the slushy lake top to safer ground inland. The Fund for Lake George reports that the lake failed to fully freeze over this winter (the first time since 2002). Though this might be an advantageous climate for a naval assault, Hornbeck will have his work cut out for him if he is to make it to a much anticipated confrontation with Senator Betty Little in the “Upstate Great Eight” round next week.
Dr. Dean Cook, a Ticonderoga dentist, has been selected by New York State Governor David Paterson to become the newest member of the Lake George Park Commission.
If confirmed by the State Senate, Cook will replace Tom Morehouse, also of Essex County, whose term has expired.
The Senate’s Committee on Environmental Conservation voted on February 24 to forward Cook’s nomination to the Senate Finance Committee, which must also approve the Governor’s choice before it is brought before the Senate as a whole. “I’ve devoted forty years to the protection of Lake George and serving as a member of the Lake George Park Commission is an opportunity to continue that work,” said Cook.
“I’ve been heartened by the Commission’s efforts to tackle such important issues as stream corridor protections, and I know it has a great potential to contribute to the health of the lake,” he added.
Cook’s family is one of the oldest on northern Lake George. An ancestor settled in the area in 1796 and the family’s property once extended from Baldwin to Hague.
Today, Cook helps maintain the family’s 250 acres near Heart Bay that were until recently part of a working farm.
That property, which includes eight guest cottages, has been hailed as a model of sustainable development.
Since returning to Lake George to join his father’s dental practice in the 1970s, Cook has served on the boards of the Adirondack Council, the High Peaks Audubon Society, the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and the Lake George Land Conservancy. “Dean Cook will be an excellent addition to the Lake George Park Commission,” said Peter Bauer, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George. “He holds Lake George and its communities near and dear to him.”
Walt Lender, the executive director of the Lake George Association, noted, “Dean Cook will be a passionate member of the Lake George Park Commission. He’s a dogged steward of the lake.”
Cook is a 1962 graduate of Ticonderoga Central School. He attended the State University of New York at Buffalo and Seton Hall before entering the University of Pennsylvania, from which he received his degree in Dental Medicine in 1971. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy.
The Lake George Park Commission is composed of nine members from each of the three counties in the Lake George basin and a representative of the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation.
If his appointment is approved by the Senate, Cook will serve a term that ends in 2017.
Photo: Dr Dean Cook and Terrina Russell-Cook courtesy of the Lake George Land Conservancy.
A dead zone that re-appeared in Lake George’s south basin for the 23rd consecutive year this past summer is proof, if proof were required, of the need for greener land use practices, lake protection organizations argue.
The zone is an area depleted of oxygen and devoid of life that extends from Lake George Village to Tea Island, said Peter Bauer, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George.
“It forms in the south basin rather than in the northern basins, not because land use practices are better in Bolton or Hague, but because more tributaries flow into that basin,” said Bauer. “It’s truly the canary in the mine-shaft, a warning of future water quality trends if we don’t improve our land-use practices.” » Continue Reading.
Even though the State Land Master plan didn’t address them specifically, in the mid-1990s the Adirondack Park Agency acted early on the use of Mountain Bikes on state land. Gibb Technologies’ new 4 x 4 waverunner combination, dubbed the Quadski, is a motorized vehicle that Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the Fund for Lake George and former head of the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks, believes needs to be addressed early as well. Check out the video. “[Mountain Biking] was a case of the APA acting on an issue before there was resource degradation, widespread established use, and where the SLMP had not contemplated an issue,” Bauer recently told the Almanack by e-mail. “[This] is an issue where the APA and DEC should act quickly and proactively or the trails and waters of the Adirondack Park will be changed forever.” The Aquada, another amphibious sport vehicle, has also been gaining ground after Sir Richard Branson became the first to cross the English Channel in one in 2004. » Continue Reading.
The FUND for Lake George, a not-for-profit, privately funded organization dedicated to the protection of Lake George that was formed in 1980, will hold its 2009 Annual Meeting on July 10th at the Lake George Club, beginning at 10:00 AM. The meeting will include an overview of the major issues confronting Lake George and the major programs and projects of the FUND, the Lake George Waterkeeper, and their partners. This year, the FUND will honor the Lake George Land Conservancy with the James D. Corbett Award. Since its creation, the LGLC has protected over 12,000 acres around Lake George, including over three miles of undeveloped shoreline areas. The LGLC’s work has helped landowners protect their lands, increased public access to wild areas, protected priceless undeveloped shoreline areas, helped protect the lake’s upland scenic beauty, and helped to protect water quality around the lake through preserving land in a natural state.
Past recipients include Lake George Mayor Robert Blais and past Chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors Bill Thomas for their leadership in organizing the West Brook Conservation Initiative, Dr. Carol Collins for her leadership on Lake George protection efforts over the past 25 years, and the RPI Darrin Fresh Water Institute for its long-term commitment to scientific study of Lake George.
In honor of Jim Corbett, The FUND for Lake George established an award in his memory. The Corbett Award recognizes an individual or organization whose work to protect Lake George continues the tradition of Jim Corbett’s passion and commitment to the lake. James Corbett had a tremendous passion for Lake George. He spent part of all of his 89 years here on the lake. As a senior partner with Merrill Lynch, Jim’s business career was on Wall Street where he was known as “Gentleman Jim.” Due to his integrity and sound thinking, upon retiring in 1970, Jim and his wife Amy became permanent residents of Huletts Landing. Jim’s passion for the Lake got him heavily involved with the Lake George Association and later he was the founder of The FUND for Lake George. Not only did Jim give endless hours of his time to preserve Lake George, he shared his treasures. He was a man of action dedicated to this lake.
2009 FUND for Lake George Annual Meeting Agenda
10:00 Welcome & Refreshments 10:15 Introductions and Agenda 10:20 Board of Trustees Business 10:30 FUND Treasurer’s Report 10:45 Program Reports: Lake George Waterkeeper 11:45 Break 12:00 Lunch: James D. Corbett Award to the Lake George Land Conservancy 12:30 Program Reports 2:00 Adjourn
The FUND for Lake George has begun its annual water quality monitoring program on Lake George. One of the most successful long-term monitoring studies in the country, the comprehensive water quality monitoring program includes a variety of leading parameters to evaluate and track the water quality of Lake George. 2009 marks the 30th straight year that the FUND for Lake George and the Darrin Fresh Water Institute have partnered to study the water quality of Lake George. The long-term database created by the study has charted the ecological health of Lake George for three decades. The scientific studies have focused attention on critical public issues facing the lake, including chronic septic system or municipal treatment failures, increasing salt levels, the growth of an annual dead zone in the south basin, and impacts from inadequate stormwater management and poor land use practices. The FUND and DFWI have committed to publishing a report on the state of Lake George based upon the past 30 years of lake study.
“The monitoring on Lake George is our most significant research program. Long-term datasets are extremely valuable to fully grasp how we are subtly and significantly altering our environment. Without this kind of information we are subject supposition, accusation and hearsay as to why water quality is changing, which greatly limits communities acting deliberately to protect water quality” said Dr. Charles Boylen, Associate Director of the RPI Darrin Fresh Water Institute. “This partnership is unique in the U.S. where we have a private group that has raised the awareness about the importance of water quality monitoring as well as provided the financial support for a scientific institute to perform sampling, monitoring, analysis and interpretation.”
The monitoring program covers 12 locations, four littoral zone areas (shallow) and eight deep water locations, from south to north on Lake George, from the Lake George Village to Heart Bay. This study includes the five major sub-basins of Lake George. Specific locations include Tea Island, Warner Bay, Basin Bay, Dome Island, Northwest Bay, French Point, Huletts Landing, Sabbath Day Point, Smith Bay, and Rogers Rock. The analytes sampled include: pH, Specific Conductance, Total Nitrogen, Total Phosphorus, Total Soluble Phosphorus, Soluble Reactive Phosphorus, Nitrate, Ammonia, Silica, Sodium, Calcium, Chloride, Sulfate, Dissolved Oxygen, Chlorophyll-a, Magnesium, Alkalinity, and Transparency, among others.
Over the past 30 years, the FUND for Lake George has raised over $1.5 million to support this long-term monitoring program and other associated research efforts with the DFWI. Support for lake science in 2009 is $98,000.
Additionally in 2009, the FUND and DFWI will monitor coliform levels at public beaches around Lake George, maintain an atmospheric research facility at the south end of Lake George in partnership with the Department of Environmental Conservation and Lake George Park Commission, and study stormwater impacts on West Brook.
For your Sunday afternoon reading pleasure comes this delightful press release from Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky. The FUND for Lake George and the Waterkeeper are working together to support state legislation to ban the sale of high phosphorus household cleaners and fertilizers. According to Navitsky, studies find 50 percent of phosphorus in stormwater runoff comes from lawn fertilizers and nine to 34 percent of phosphorus in municipal sewage treatment plants is from household cleaning products. New York law would follow laws in Minnesota, Maine and Wisconsin and a law just enacted in Westchester County. You’ve got a lot of science and policy reading ahead of you, so enjoy! Lake George – The FUND for Lake George and Lake George Waterkeeper support new state legislation to ban the sale of high phosphorus products used for household (and commercial) cleaning supplies and in lawn fertilizers. The impact of the widespread use of these products is that they contribute to water pollution across New York. In this action, New York follows successful legislative efforts of the state of Minnesota, which passed similar legislation in 2005, and Maine, which started its law on January 1, 2008, and Wisconsin, which just passed similar legislation in April 2009. Local laws banning phosphorus in household cleaning products and lawn fertilizers have passed a number of counties in Michigan, Florida, and Illinois, among other states such as Maryland and Vermont. In New York, Westchester County recently passed a phosphorus product sale ban in order to protect the water quality of its public drinking water supply reservoirs and the Long Island Sound. Studies of the Minnesota law found 97% compliance in retail establishments, no higher costs for consumers, and found an overall decrease in phosphorus loading to state waters.
“One pound of phosphorus can make 50-60 pounds of algae in a lake or pond” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the FUND for Lake George. “This state legislation would have a positive impact on Lake George where overall phosphorus levels have continued to rise due to poor lawn management, lack of stream buffers, poorly designed and managed septic systems, and high volumes of stormwater runoff. Limiting the amount of phosphorus used in fertilizers and in household cleaning products used primarily for dishwashing, is an important tool to help protect the water quality of Lake George.”
This legislation prohibits the sale or distribution of household/commercial cleaning products used in dishwashers that contain 0.5% by weight of a phosphorus compound, reduced from 8.7%, and to prohibit the use of such products in commercial establishments as of July 1, 2010. High phosphorus household cleaning detergents often include as much as 9% phosphorus and are often responsible for between 9 – 34% of the total phosphorus in municipal water treatment plants. The legislation bans the sale of fertilizers that contains 0.67% by weight of phosphorus. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation estimates that fertilizers can be responsible for 50% of the total phosphorus in stormwater runoff. Phosphorus loading continues to negatively impact Lake George.
“It’s important to limit the amount of phosphorus that is being loaded into Lake George” said Chris Navitsky, the Lake George Waterkeeper. “Each time it rains, improperly managed stormwater loads phosphorus into the lake. Phosphorus in fertilizers is being washed into Lake George, is not being absorbed into the soils and becoming absorbed into soils and is failing its intended use.”
The issue of phosphorus loading into Lake George has long been identified as a major long-term problem facing the lake. The 2001, the Lake George Park Commission published a report “Total Phosphorus Budget Analysis for the Lake George Watershed” by Sterns & Wheler, which concluded that “The majority of phosphorus loading is from surface water runoff, with a disproportionate amount of runoff derived from developed area round the lake as compared to undeveloped (forested and agricultural) areas. Although developed areas only account for 5 percent of the land area in the watershed, they produce 43 percent of all the phosphorus that enters the lake as surface runoff.” The report also calculated that Lake George is receiving 300% of the amount of phosphorus that it can naturally process.
Lake George is buffered somewhat as compared with other lakes across New York as its watershed is 95% forested. The undeveloped natural forest systems around Lake George load phosphorus to the lake. This happens as leaves and twigs that fall into the lake decay and as sediment is carried to the lake as part of the natural stream bed load, among other ways. A healthy Lake George needs phosphorus to function. Excess phosphorus causes water pollution and the natural aging processes are accelerated.
The Sterns & Wheler report stated that undeveloped areas around Lake George, which includes 95% of the entire watershed (some 141,500 acres), produces as much phosphorus as the developed 5% of the watershed (some 7,500 acres). Just 5% of the watershed around Lake George is developed with houses, roads, parking lots, barns, stores, parks, sewers, yards, and a whole lot more, whereas. 95% is still relatively wild, either in private forest lands, a backyard forest, or as part of the state’s Forest Preserve. From this 2001 study the developed areas deliver phosphorus to the Lake George at a ratio of 15-1 when compared with natural forest areas. This is consistent with research around the U.S. that compares developed areas with non-developed areas. Use of household cleaning detergents and fertilizers are part of the overall phosphorus loading problem.
As mentioned above, Lake George receives 300% more phosphorus than it can process naturally. What happens to phosphorus-rich waters? They steadily lose water clarity as transparency in the water is lost as microscopic algal life is stimulated. They stimulate greater plant growth, which is turns creates more decayed matter on the lake bottom thus changing the aquatic system as this matter accumulates. Phosphorus rich waters are also very hospitable to invasive aquatic species, such as Eurasian Watermilfoil (EWM), which require high levels of nutrients. High phosphorus rates are also a human health issue as this can make water not safe to drink. High levels of phosphorus also contribute to creation each summer of a “dead zone” on Lake George where oxygen levels are depleted due to high nutrient levels making large parts of the lake unable to support fish life. Lake George has been experiencing a slow, steady decline in water quality. Land use changes and poor land use practices on just 5% of the land areas around the lake have changed the lake’s water quality.
“Legislation to control phosphorus pollution from household cleaning products and lawn fertilizers is critical to help manage and reduce water pollution across New York. Lake George is enormously important to the local economy. In many ways, Lake George is the engine of the Warren County economy. The high property values, robust tourism season, sport fishing and boating industries, among others, all require clean water” said Peter Bauer.
“If this legislation is unsuccessful at the state level, we would explore whether or not it’s feasible for the Lake George Park Commission to undertake a similar effort within the Lake George watershed” said Chris Navitsky.
Warren County State Supreme Court Judge David Krogman issued a decision in a lawsuit by the Lake George Waterkeeper against the Town of Lake George that nullified the Town’s approval of the controversial Forest Ridge subdivision. The judge struck down a plan that would have put new lots on 180 out of 190 acres of the subdivision, all overlooking the west side of Lake George. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has now also asserted jurisdiction over the possible future reconfigured subdivision. Last spring, the State Attorney General and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) joined with the Lake George Waterkeeper in its legal action against the Town alleging violation of state laws in its approval of the Forest Ridge development. The APA recently asserted its jurisdiction over the future subdivision. The developers will need new approvals from both the APA and the Town of Lake George to proceed.
According to a press release issued by Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky:
This follows an earlier decision from June 2008 where Judge Krogman suspended approval of the subdivision and ordered that the Town of Lake George to substantiate the record regarding its initial approvals of the subdivision. Unsatisfied with the Town’s response, the Judge struck down approvals of new lots on 180 out of 190 acres of the subdivision, overruling the Town’s approval of lots 5-10. (Lots 1-4 are small lots on an existing road, which were sold prior to the commencement of legal action by the Waterkeeper and were authorized by Judge Krogman to protect the purchasers, two of whom had started houses).
Poorly regulated subdivisions and poor administration of stormwater regulations by local governments are contributing to the steady decline in Lake George water quality.
“We remain extremely concerned about the continued failure of the Town of Lake George to properly administer its stormwater management regulations and segment its environmental reviews.” Navitsky said, “We hope that this legal victory will be a wake up call to the Town to improve the way in which it does business when it administers stormwater management regulations and reviews subdivisions.”
The Lake George Waterkeeper will work with the landowners to ensure environmental sound stormwater management for the remaining lots. According to Navitsky “although this is the responsibility of the Town of Lake George, the Town has continued to refuse the need to comply with the Town Code despite the original decision by the judge. We hope that with the APA involved a comprehensive review will be undertaken and a sound stormwater management plan will be incorporated on these lands and that we’ll see a much better subdivision in the future.”
The Lake George Waterkeeper has repeatedly appeared before the Town of Lake George Town Board and Planning Board to point out what it calls “the inadequacy of the Town’s environmental review process.” Here is a time line of legal history of this development supplied by the Waterkeeper:
* The Forest Ridge subdivision is a 191 acre residential subdivision on Truesdale Hill Road on the steep hillsides west of Lake George. In April 2006, the Town of Lake George Planning Board approved the first phase of the three phase subdivision without an adequate environmental review as per the State Environmental Quality Review Act and segmented the stormwater management review. The Waterkeeper actively intervened in the Town’s review to point out its failure to comply with local and state laws.
* In May 2006, the Waterkeeper challenged the Town’s approval of the Forest Ridge subdivision pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practices Laws & Rules of the State of New York.
* In June 2008, Warren County State Supreme Court Judge David Krogman suspended the approval of the subdivision and ordered the Town of Lake George to justify its approval.
* In October 2008, the Planning Board rescinded the original approval for 6 lots, except for four lots that had been sold. These four lots, according to the conclusion of the Court, were illegally excluded from major subdivision review, and failed to comply with the Town’s stormwater regulations. In addition, the proposed 3-phase subdivision received segmented environmental review. The Waterkeeper objected.
* In December 2008, the Adirondack Park Agency and the State Office of Attorney General filed an Order to Show Cause with the Court, supporting the position of the Lake George Waterkeeper.
* In February 2009, Judge Krogman issued a final decision. He rescinded approvals on 95% of property, 6 lots, while protecting landowners on 4 lots on 10 acres, which had been purchased lots prior to the Waterkeeper’s lawsuit.
The mission of the Lake George Waterkeeper is to defend the natural resources of the Lake George watershed for the common good of the community. The Lake George Waterkeeper is a program of the FUND for Lake George and was started in 2002.
The Lake George Park Commission has finally released its draft stream buffer regulations [pdf] for the Lake George watershed. These regulations are the most important environmental action the Park Commission has taken in years and are important to the water quality of Lake George – over half of the water in the lake comes from local streams. The FUND for Lake George and Lake George Waterkeeper are asking folks to submit comments (deadline March 15th) to ensure that the Park Commission does not weaken these new rules. They have also published a special report Clear Choice: The Need for Stream Buffers in the Lake George Watershed [pdf] to help educate and inform the public about this issue. There is a Public Hearing Scheduled for February 24th at 11:00 AM at the Holiday Inn in Lake George. The Albany Times Union recently published an op-ed by FUND Executive Director Peter Bauer on the need for the Park Commission to finalize new stream buffer rules.