Proposed stream setback regulations spark controversy

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

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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.

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