A new masonry wall built where West Brook runs under Beach Road and empties into Lake George has prompted complaints from some local residents about its height — and how views of the lake might be blocked. The walled stream corridor is part of the Beach Road reconstruction project that is now underway. Curb construction on the lake side of the roadway is to be completed this week, and construction of sidewalks is planned for next week. Paving of the road, with innovative permeable pavement, is to begin in about two weeks.
With an intent to prompt upgrades to downtown buildings, Lake George Village trustees have proposed a property tax break for business proprietors who make improvements to their properties.
The proposed program would exempt property owners from paying full taxes, for over a decade, on the assessed value of their property improvements.
Instead, the property owners would pay 50 percent of the assessed value of the upgrades during the first year, and 5 percent less each year until the exemption expires.
Monday April 15, the trustees decided against a proposed stipulation that would call for a minimum of $50,000 in improvements to qualify.
They decided to set a $10,000 minimum instead, citing that the lower amount would prompt more business owners to upgrade their properties.
The law would replace an existing schedule of exemptions for those boosting their assessments by $50,000, which granted a 25 percent exemption the first year, followed by a 10 percent exemption the following three years, and 5 percent the next three years.
The new expanded exemption was initiated by Lake George Mayor Robert Blais. He said April 15 that Glens Falls Economic & Community Development Director Ed Bartholomew told him that a similar tax break in the city had spurred considerable upgrades to downtown Glens Falls.
The proposed ordinance is subject to a public hearing at 6 p.m. May 20.
Townhouse initiative defeated
Another proposal to boost development in Lake George Village didn’t garner the support April 15 that the tax exemption did.
An initiative to allow townhouses in R-1 residential zones in town was defeated by a 3-2 split vote.
Trustees John Root and Ray Perry who supported the change said that the initiative would encourage more young families to move into the village — which would boost year-round activity and commerce as well as enhance the local quality of life.
But Blais raised concerns that allowing townhouses might worsen an existing problem with property owners renting their homes out on a weekly basis, which is now not permitted — but is difficult to enforce.
Trustee Joe Mastrodomenico cast the decisive dissenting vote, noting that he was not necessarily against the measure, but sought time to examine what areas in the village would be most suitable for townhouses. He joined Blais and Deputy Mayor John Earl in defeating the townhouse proposal.
In other business, the village trustees:
• approved an additional curb cut for a driveway at Lake George Bed & Breakfast to allow its patrons better access. Although the change would displace two parking meters, Blais said they could be relocated to retain the revenue. The cost of $1,000 in materials is to be born by the venue’s proprietors.
• heard that the old railroad station across from the steel pier and owned by the Lake George Steamboat Co. has been named to the National Historic Register.
• approved a contract for fire protection in 2014 that represents a modest decrease from the current year.
• were informed that the Beach Road reconstruction work was progressing. Curb construction on the lake side of the roadway is to be completed this week, and construction of sidewalks is planned for next week. Paving of the road, with innovative permeable pavement, is to begin in about two weeks. Blais said he was receiving a lot of complaints from Lake George residents about the trees being cut along lower West Brook — and that the height of the new stonework where West Brook runs under Beach Road was excessive and would be blocking views.