LAKE GEORGE - A moratorium that effectively blocked development in Lake George Village will not be in force beginning this week, according to a decision reached Monday by the village board.
The board decided to let their six-month moratorium on new sewer hook-ups expire Tuesday, citing the law was no longer needed.
The town of Lake George had an identical moratorium in place - which also expired Tuesday - and the town board members will most likely not extend it, town supervisor Frank McCoy said Tuesday morning.
The sewer hookup moratoriums were enacted in late winter, due to concern over the adequacy of the village sewer system - including the capacity of the sewer plant - which was reaching its maximum.
The capacity of the village sewer plant, once pushed to the limit during summertime peak flows, is now adequate, village Mayor Robert Blais said.
Blais said due to the town of Lake George's recent discovery and capping of sewer line laterals under state-owned Battleground Park that carried clean groundwater and stormwater to the village sewer plant, the amount of water the plant processes daily has dropped substantially. Village Public Works superintendent David Harrington said the sewage flow has decreased about 60,000 gallons per day.
Blais said the village and town's investigation into a pipe carrying sewage from state-owned Battleground Campground nearby, would continue. Even when the campground has been vacant, the pipes have carried a substantial flow of clear water, which Blais said indicates there is an illegal groundwater inflow into the pipes, or that the state is allowing their faucets to run illegally at the campground. Either way, the state must take responsibility and remedy the situation, he said, noting the state had previously denied responsibility for all the sewer pipes under Battleground Park. He said the state Department of Environmental Conservation has not responded to recent inquiries into the matter.
McCoy said village and town officials were meeting with DEC officials Wednesday to discuss the sewer inflows.
Blais said the village board, alongside the town, would continue to pursue investigations into illegal inflows of groundwater and stormwater, using a remote-controlled video camera designed to inspect sewer pipes.
The sewer hookup moratorium was enacted in February, following concerns over not only the sewer plant capacity, but the sewer system's integrity. A sewer break occurred in July 2009 in front of Shepard Park beach that prompted the beach to be closed to the public while the beach was cleaned and renovated, and pipes were inspected for their durability, which was confirmed. The beach closure was extended for the rest of the summer due to continuing high levels of coliform bacteria, which village officials blamed on wildlife congregating on the beach, rather than the sewer spill, because after installing bird-repellent devices, the coliform counts dropped dramatically.
Blais announced Monday routine coliform counts this summer show that the water at Shepard Park Beach is clean, well within state limits for bacteria.
In other business Monday, the village board:
• Approved the installation of six wooden bulletin boards around the village to hold tourism posters. The board members decided they would contain only information promoting Lake George, expressing concern about some materials circulating in the village offering discounts in Lake Placid.
• Approved the erection of a large sign facing the lake that will promote the Lake George Jazz Weekend to boaters. The event sponsor, the Lake George Arts Project, has plans to have speakers this year direct the festival music toward the lake so boaters can enjoy the jazz performances.
• Discussed options concerning a hole in the Mannix yard at Helen Street near McGillis Street, which neighbors have said poses a safety hazard to children. Some time ago, the village installed a culvert running through various adjoining properties, but the Mannix property owners wouldn't grant an easement, so the village left a gap on their property - between two culverts - that is about four feet deep and occasionally fills up with water. Blais said the owners refused to allow town employees on the property.
• Discussed a proposal to build a landscaped median down the middle of state Route 9 at both the north and south ends of the village. Blais said many local residents want to see the green medians extend into the village to Mohican Street on the south side, and to the high school on the North side. Board members said they like the beautification concept, as long as vital parking spaces aren't sacrificed. The town is applying for grant money and is working on the initiative with the state Department of Transportation.
• Decided to advertise for a new chief operator for the village sewer plant. Reggie Burlingame is retiring, and George Knowles, who was selected as his replacement, is working part-time and can't devote enough hours to become a certified plant engineer, Blais said, noting that Knowles is also due to retire soon.
• Announced that a plan to re-construct Beach Road and reconfigure the intersection at Canada Street into a pocket park will be presented to the public at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, at the village hall.
• Voiced concerns about "paper snaps," or tissue-wrapped pellets of gunpowder children have been buying and throwing on the village sidewalks to make a sharp noise. The debris from the items is quite difficult to clean up, board members said, and Blais suggested asking merchants to voluntarily cease selling them.
• Praised village Clerk-Treasurer Darlene Gunther for her arduous work preparing the village annual report. Mayor Blais also praised her for her financial management, noting that the village's reserve funds had grown this year while the tax rate remained stable.
"The village continues to be in excellent financial condition," Blais said, praising Gunther for her expertise.
• Heard from Blais that the village's Thursday night fireworks shows are attracting record crowds, and the mayor has applied to the county bed-tax committee for a $25,000 subsidy for the aerial displays, because they draw visitors from a wide region.
• Praised Public Works Superintendent Dave Harrington and his employees for keeping the town tidy and the infrastructure in good shape. Blais read a letter from a tourist citing how well the village was maintained.