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Town of Lake George considering changes to its transient merchant laws

Public hearing on zoning law amendments set for 6 p.m. Thursday Dec. 12

Touring motorcyclists wait at a stoplight in downtown Lake George during a prior year’s Americade event which annually attracts tens of thousands of  motorcyclists. The Lake George Town Board is considering a zoning amendment which is designed to encourage more such festivals by permitting festival organizers and allowing individual vendors to sell merchandise and services under the legal umbrella, rather than paying a $500 transient vendor fee which is now assessed to every vendor under existing town law. Local officials say that large events like Americade are important to retain in Warren County — a research study conducted several years ago indicated that Americade pumps about $40 million into the local economy per year.

Touring motorcyclists wait at a stoplight in downtown Lake George during a prior year’s Americade event which annually attracts tens of thousands of motorcyclists. The Lake George Town Board is considering a zoning amendment which is designed to encourage more such festivals by permitting festival organizers and allowing individual vendors to sell merchandise and services under the legal umbrella, rather than paying a $500 transient vendor fee which is now assessed to every vendor under existing town law. Local officials say that large events like Americade are important to retain in Warren County — a research study conducted several years ago indicated that Americade pumps about $40 million into the local economy per year. Photo by Thom Randall.

Dramatic changes in the way transient merchants are regulated under town law are now under consideration, and these proposed zoning code amendments are headed for a public hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday Dec. 12. The changes are expected to prompt more festivals to be held in the town of Lake George.

Now, existing law calls for transient merchants setting up outdoors to go through the town's site plan review process — which can take from 30 to 60 days, and require these itinerant vendors to pay $500 per day to the town to sell goods and services.

The proposed law will allow a festival organizer to apply for a permit for $250, and then any approved number of individuals can sell their goods and services under the legal umbrella of the permitted festival.

All those vendors not affiliated with a permitted festival would be considered a transient merchant and need to pay the $500 fee as a transient merchant — a sum that was set high years ago by the Lake George Town Board to discourage vendors from drawing customers away from established festivals.

Such traditional annual festivals would be protected from direct competition, as multiple festivals would not be allowed to operate on the same dates, unless their goods and services don’t compete directly with existing, scheduled annual festivals, town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said.

“We don’t want merchants competing with the successful festivals we now have here.”

Town Director of Planning and Zoning Keith Oborne said the pending regulations would help encourage new festivals to situate in Lake George, while retaining and nurturing existing festivals like Americade that bring revenue into the town. A study a few years ago concluded that Americade has brought as much as $42 million annually into Warren County

“These regulation amendments are a step forward,” Oborne said. “We’re trying to keep Americade here as well as extend the opportunity for other festivals to grow here.”

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