County leaders decry proposed stream setback rules

QUEENSBURY- Citing a potential plunge in Lake George real estate valuations and tax revenue, Warren County supervisors voted Friday to officially oppose a set of proposed Lake George Park Commission regulations that would require 100-foot development setbacks from all streams which feed into the lake.

They said such regulations would end up prohibiting development on hundreds of parcels and devalue land from which the county and local towns receive substantial property tax revenue. Property surrounding the lake accounts for approximately 40 percent of the county's total land value.

County supervisors voiced their opposition to the regulations for other reasons - that the proposed rules circumvent local governments, were too restrictive, and would override existing laws in violation of the state's principle of home rule. Further, many officials said they question the viability of the scientific data which the park commission cites in their arguments supporting the regulations.

Also, the supervisors expressed dismay Friday that the proposed regulations were drafted by the park commission without any input from local governments.

"These regs would drop the counties value 30 percent," Hague Supervisor Dan Belden said with disgust March 20. "Who will pick up the shortfall? The taxpayer, that's who."

The park commission has proposed the new regulations with the intent of preserving the lake's water quality, agency officials said this week.

In recent decades, lakewater purity has been negatively affected by a boom of hillside construction projects, the commission said. According to the park commission, phosphorus levels are on the rise resulting in algae blooms which devastate aquatic life by reducing oxygen levels.

Several supervisors said that the park commission's interpretation of existing scientific data is suspect at best.

County Board of Supervisors Chairman Fred Monroe objected to the park commission's lack of communication with local governments.

"There was no real discussion with this board or the other local municipalities whatsoever," Monroe said. "I certainly can't support regulatory gridlock."

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