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Lake George to ‘grandfather’ Leather Outlet tents

— In their last meeting before their roster is changed radically, the Lake George Town Board passed a resolution grandfathering the use of tents at Leather Outlet/World Famous Tepee on state Rte. 9 south of the village.

Since 2009, town Code Enforcement Officer Rob Hickey had cited the complex’s owner, Kevin Quinn, with violations, asserting that the seasonal tents on his property were violating the town zoning ordinances. Erecting them each summer, he said, represented an expansion of retail space that requires site plan review.

Quinn has countered that the tents had been on the site since at least the 1970s — prior to the town ordinance — and should be allowed as a pre-existing or “grandfathered” condition.

On Monday, Dec. 12, the board listened to his rationale and decided to grant his request.

Board member Fran Heinrich cast the sole “no” vote, after suggesting that a fee of $500 or so should be charged to permit the tents to be erected — a suggestion rejected by the other board members.

The Leather Outlet, renamed this year as World Famous Tepee, employs 11 off-season and up to 30 in the summer. Quinn said that his business would significantly decrease without the tents.

“For many years, I’ve paid my taxes, and without the tents, I’d have to lay off long-time employees,” he said.

Regulations over erecting and using tents in town is the focus of a municipal law now under development and will be subject to a decision by the incoming town board, which includes three new members, constituting a new majority.

The resolution to grandfather the use of existing tents on Quinn’s property is conditional that they be erected only from May 1 to Nov. 1.

Outgoing Town Supervisor Frank McCoy said the resolution would settle the long-standing controversy over Quinn’s tents.

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