LAKE GEORGE - The Lake George Village Board passed a law Monday that limits the number of sex offenders that can live at once in a motel or hotel to six and requires the business to post a public notification that such individuals were staying on the premises.
This law requires motels and hotels and rooming houses hosting sex offenders to obtain a license, costing $3,000 per year, from the town government.
The law follows the towns of Warrensburg, Lake George, Queensbury and Lake Luzerne in passing such a law. The issue became a governmental concern months ago after a discovery that as many as 14 sex offenders were living simultaneously in the Best Inn motel in Queensbury, a situation that sparked public outcry. Area officials and citizens were concerned that the traveling public should be aware of a potential threat to their security - particularly the safety of single females and children.
These Warren County municipalities, one after another passed the law earlier this year, with local officials citing the concern that sex offenders would be moving from the prohibited areas into their respective town.
Those laws followed the legislation passed last year by the Town of Colonie., which has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union.
While just months ago, Village Board members had expressed reservations about enacting such a law because it might prompt expensive legal challenges, the board was silent Monday as they passed the measure. Accommodations hosting sex offenders have 30 days to obtain a license, or face a fine of $350.
Mayor Robert Blais noted this spring that very few Village motels or hotels would likely qualify to house sex offenders anyway, due to other pre-existing laws that prevent them from living within set distances from churches, schools, parks and playgrounds which are scattered throughout the village.
Burned-out building to be razed
In other business Monday, the Lake George Village Board approved a plan to demolish the burned-out shell of the former Mitchell Cohen dental office at 48 Amherst St. Although initially to be accomplished at taxpayer expense, the cost of the contracted demolition work would be recouped through a lien on the property, paid off when the land sells, Mayor Blais said. Mitchell Cohen's lawyer told Blais that Cohen has no money to pay for the demolition - Cohen's insurance company is not paying for the fire claim, Blais said.
Parking patrol scolded for goofing off
Blais announced that parking meter revenue has jumped in the past several weeks after he scolded the village crew of parking meter enforcers for their lackadaisical attitude. Blais said he recently noted the meter-minders had written 2,400 tickets less than last year, and the next day he told them "You must be walking around with your eyes closed."
The warning came after Blais followed the meter-minders around and found them walking around in groups where no meters existed. Other board members said they'd seen the parking meter employees together lounging in village parks instead of individually patrolling the streets.
The day after the warning, the number of tickets they wrote surged, Blais said.
Laws would limit picnic tables, displays
The board tabled a law that would limit the number of tables and racks Lake George businesses could set out for designated sidewalk sale days, customarily during the village craft shows and on labor Day and Columbus Day weekends. A proposed law restricted the tables to one per business, but Councilman Ray Perry said the number of tables should be according to the size of the storefront. The proposed law was tabled for re-submission to another public hearing.
The board also discussed a proposed companion law that allows the village Planning Board to determine what type of furnishings and lighting that restaurants, taverns and shops have out-of-doors, and prohibit the use of picnic tables. The law would also restrict the number of menu boards allowed. Blais said he's received complaints about picnic tables being set outdoors in front of Canada St. businesses.
Smoking in parks to be discouraged
The board enacted a change to the village property maintenance law, boosting fines from $100 to $200 flat fee to $250 for each day that the violation exists.
The village leaders also approved a No-Smoking mission statement and erection of "Smoke-Free Environment" signs to be placed in the village recreation center and Shepard Park to discourage smoking. Blais said a No Smoking policy was unenforceable under the law, but a mission statement for the village would be appropriate legally to back up the signage. "We need to alert the pubic that we support good health, and the use of tobacco products is a detriment to the health of our citizens," he said.
Moonglow event to be revived
Blais announced that the state Department of Environmental Conservation has approved the use of Battleground Park for the Village's Moonglow event, set for 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 25. Blais said he and Councilman Perry are working to revive the traditional event after the former sponsors, the Adirondack Balloon Festival, gave it up several years ago. Blais noted that the Moonglow event had been immensely popular, and drew many visitors to the village. This year's nighttime event would include five balloons, provided by SunKiss Ballooning, intermittently lit up internally. The event would be held concurrently with the International Antique & Classic Boat Regatta and a craft show event, organized by former Village board member Marisa Muratori, complete with live musical entertainment.