Village officials voted Monday Aug. 19 to streamline local ordinances regulating soliciting and passing out leaflets in order to comply with prevailing Freedom of Speech rights.
The many amendments of the village soliciting and zoning ordinances include making it easier to obtain a permit to solicit funds or pass out printed material — and eliminating the fee for doing so — as well as shortening the advance time required for a permit.
The revisions are in response to a legal claim filed by an individual who during a recent Americade event was standing on a village sidewalk, wearing a sandwich-board sign and passing out leaflets, village officials said this week. The revisions to the laws may be an element in negotiating a settlement in the individual’s lawsuit, sources familiar with the situation said. A call placed to the village attorney was not returned by press time noon Aug. 20.
In other business, the village board:
• heard from Mayor Bob Blais that village officials will be meeting with Warren County Sheriff Bud York to strategize how to reduce the extreme traffic congestion occurring annually after the Fourth of July fireworks. Blais said that on July 4 this year, traffic was backed up so severely that it took up to 90 minutes for visitors to get out of the village after the show ended, and even the back streets of the village were jammed with vehicles. Officials of local emergency services agencies sent letters recently to the board citing that public safety was compromised by the traffic snarls.
• voted to contribute $12,500 this year towards the ongoing effort to eradicate Asian clams in Lake George. The towns of Bolton, Lake George and Queensbury have already made such a pledge toward a $600,000 effort.
•heard a request from Lisa Giknis of the Dog Cabin enterprise on Montcalm St. to place a 7-feet-tall Adirondack chair on the sidewalk in front of her commercial building in order to draw customers up from Canada St. Blais said that such an encroachment on village property prompted legal considerations and liability exposure. Board member John Root said he opposed the proposal because it would present too much of an obstruction to pedestrian traffic. Giknis then suggested placement of an additional bench rather than the giant chair. Blais said the issue would be referred to village attorney Matt Fuller, and that Giknis would have to pay for the legal expenses involved, if she chose to pursue the idea.
• Amended the budget to allow for a $7,123 dividend from New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal, reflecting better-than-expected payout experience for 2012 in the firm’s underwriting of municipal insurance.
• tabled a request from Warren County to negotiate an agreement for the upkeep of the thousands of flowers adorning the new pocket park in front of the village Visitors’ Information Center at Beach Road and Canada St. Blais said the recent reconfiguration of the intersection has been hailed as aiding vehicle visibility and traffic flow.
“We’ve received tons of compliments,” he said, adding that the county may have strings attached to the contract — that the park may host only flowers. Blais said he’d like the park to have benches and perhaps an antique clock.
• approved hosting the Lake George Rendezvous Boat Show on Aug. 24, the Lake George in-Water Boat Show on Sept. 14 through Sept. 15, and the Lake George Polar Plunge on Nov. 16.
• heard a report from Blais that the plans for establishing a local Business Improvement District are moving ahead, and that a steering committee is making progress. The group has submitted a plan to the village that outlines the proposed district, its taxing plan including a specific tax rate, and a plan for expenditure of its funds. Blais praised Rob Gegor of Motel Montreal, citing his diligent work on the proposal. The BID steering group will be participating in a special meeting with the village board at 5 p.m. Thursday Aug. 22.
• approved awarding project management and construction inspection contracts for the development of the Charles Wood Park to Clark Patterson Lee Design Consultants, noting that former county Public Works chief Bill Lamy would be handling a lot of the chores for the firm.
•discussed the problem of some visitors not being able to find the rest rooms at Shepard Park Beach pump house. Trustee John Root suggested more signs, or a stenciled symbol on sidewalks to direct them to the facilities.
• heard from Mayor Blais that since the six-story Marriott Courtyard Hotel plans were unveiled he has heard of two major development initiatives now emerging, one at the north end of the village, and one at the former OTB parlor property.
• announced the village is conducting an inventory of properties that might be available to host additional parking spaces, since the new municipal parking lot behind Giuseppe’s Pizza, which contained 88 spaces, will likely become a private lot for the Marriott hotel. Blais noted that Lake George School District has declined to allow the village to erect parking meters in their bus garage lot.