LAKE GEORGE - The Lake George Town Board joined a rising tide of dissent Monday, as it unanimously passed a resolution against new feeder stream setback regulations proposed by the Lake George Park Commission.
In its action, the town of Lake George is officially opposing the proposed regulations, alongside the town of Bolton, which passed a similar resolution last week. As of Tuesday, the town of Hague was expected to pass a virtually identical measure this week.
The regulations, however, are supported by a long list of environmental groups as well as individual area residents, who say they are vital in protecting the water quality of Lake George and its associated waterways.
If enacted, clearing of vegetation would be forbidden on property that is 50 feet from the high-water mark of any stream which feeds into Lake George. Further, very limited vegetation clearing would be allowed within an additional 50 feet from the streams.
"These regulations would greatly devalue private property in town," Councilman Scott Wood said Monday. "Over 2,200 parcels or roughly 22 percent of the private property in Lake George would be negatively affected."
The Park Commission has proposed the new regulations in order to preserve the lake's water quality - which has been compromised, commission officials said, by a boom of hillside construction projects in recent years. According to the commission, phosphorus levels are on the rise resulting in algae blooms which devastate aquatic life by reducing oxygen levels.
In their resolution, the Lake George Town Board argued that the Park Commission has no concrete scientific data to justify the assertion that increased algae blooms are a direct result of
See STREAMS, page 18
From page 1
development adjacent to feeder streams. Further, the town board argued that the Commission did not consult with the communities that would be affected and that the regulations are not only redundant, but in direct conflict with the principles of home rule.
At present, the town of Lake George requires a 30-foot setback from feeder streams.
"The resolution this board just passed is filled with incorrect information," Lake George Waterkeeper Executive Director Chris Navitsky told the Lake George Town Board Monday. "The claim that there is no scientific data is false as is the claim that there was no town involvement - Lake George was contacted before the new rules were announced, but no one responded until after the fact."
Navitsky said that there is irrefutable evidence that the algae blooms found at the confluence of the lake and a feeder stream are directly associated with human development. He also said that the town's regulations are rarely if ever enforced and are therefore irrelevant.
But Navitsky's claims did not sway everyone.
"All this is is a taking of land from the property owner -bottom line," said Lake George resident Mike Lanfear, who owns 10 acres that would be affected by the proposed regulations. "Why do we even need a Park Commission anyway? We already have the APA."
Lanfear was not the only Lake George resident expressing sentiments against the proposed regulations. Some attending Monday's meeting said they believe that there are institutional forces at work influencing the LGPC's actions.
"People are a part of the environment too," said Barry Kincaide of the Lake George Property Owners group. "The Fund for Lake George has pushed the commission into enacting unfair laws which are blatant violations of home-rule."
But Navitsky stood up for his viewpoints, citing research and quantitative data.
"The lake is on the path to mezotropic conditions," Navitsky said. "These conditions are unable to support life."
Over 150 streams feed into Lake George.
A public hearing regarding the proposed stream setback regulations will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 24 at the Lake George Holiday Inn. Public comments will be accepted by the Lake George Park Commission until March 15.