APA’s New Boathouse Rules Exempt Lake George
By Anthony F. Hall
Thursday, January 20, 2011
The Adirondack Park Agency voted on June 10 to adopt new regulations governing the size and uses of boathouses, but agreed to exempt Lake George boathouses from the new rules.
Under these new rules, any boathouse with a permit from the Lake George Park Commission will be considered legal, even if its dimensions don’t conform to APA limitations.
Without the amendment, residents of towns within the Lake George Park lacking APA-approved land use plans, Fort Ann, Dresden, Putnam and Ticonderoga, would have been required to build smaller and shorter boathouses than the Lake George Park Commission routinely allows.
The APA’s rules, which limit boathouses to 1200 square feet in size and 15 feet in height, would have superceded the Commission’s rules in those towns, said Keith Mckeever, a spokesman for the APA.
“Typically, the more restrictive regulation takes precedence over the less restrictive one,” McKeever said.
Towns with approved plans, Queensbury, Lake George, Bolton and Hague, would have been exempt from the new rules, although according to McKeever, “the Agency would have hoped that the towns would have adopted the new rules.”
An earlier draft of the rules, the subject of a public hearing in Lake George in January, proposed banning the flat roofs on boathouses that are commonly used as sundecks and limiting boathouses to 900 square feet.
While sun decks are not prohibited, the rails around the decks will be included in calculations of height, potentially reducing boathouse heights to 12 or 13 feet. The Lake George Park Commission allows boathouses to be as high as 16 feet.
The regulation adopted last week reads, in part: “The dimensional requirements specified herein shall not apply to a covered structured berthing boats located within the Lake George park, provided the structure is built or modified in accordance with permits from the Lake George Park Commission.”
An earlier draft of the regulations, which failed to win the support of a majority when the Adirondack Park Agency met in May, read simply: “Within the Lake George Park a covered structure for berthing boats, built or modified pursuant to a permit issued by the Lake George Park Commission, will be considered a boathouse.”
APA counsel John Bata told the commissioners, “The new language was suggested by the Lake George Lake George Park Commission, will be considered a boathouse.”
APA counsel John Bata told the commissioners, “The new language was suggested by the Lake George Park Commission; the Lake George Park Commissioners wanted it to be crystal clear that there would be no changes in Park Commission review procedures.”
“We’re very pleased that the APA adopted the provision,” said Mike White, the Lake George Park Commission’s executive director. “It avoids duplication and allows people to move forward with plans without worrying which agency they have submit applications to.”
At the public hearing on the first draft of the regulations held in Lake George in January, Lake George Park Commission chairman Bruce Young said “I don’t see what the APA will do that is different from what the Lake George Park Commission does now.”
Writing to the APA a few days after the meeting, Young stated, “the revisions will result in a duplication of effort and inconsistency in design standards among two sets of New York State regulations. This will cause confusion, extra steps and added expense for both applicants and our two agencies.”
“The idea made sense,” said the APA’s Keith McKeever. “The Lake George Partk Commission already regulates boathouses to protect water quality, so it was appropriate to delegate that authority to the Commission.”
The trustees of The Fund for Lake George agreed that Lake George should be excluded from any new boathouse regulations, said The Fund’s executive director, Peter Bauer.
“First and foremost we saw no water quality benefit to the regulation, especially the ban on flat top roofs, which often mitigate the need for patios and larger lawns,” he said.