On Wednesday, the Santa Clara Town Board was expected to vote on the proposed Marina regulations for Upper Saranac Lake.
Subsequent to an anticipated public hearing, the town’s legal counsel, Mike Hill, announced that due to legal procedural requirements, the board was unable to conduct a vote. Hill went on to explain that the mandatory allowable period of time for public comments has not lapsed. The town is still expecting additional comments, including a comment from the Adirondack Park Agency.
The Town Board made and passed a motion to continue the public hearing into November and to take additional public comments until the conclusion of the allowable submission period. That date wasn’t made clear by the attorney, but it is believed to be somewhere around the beginning of November.
The small community center was filled with residents in expectation of a debate over marina regulations and possible discussion on short-term rentals. Following the announcement of the continuation of the public hearing, and that the board was not prepared to discuss short-term rentals, the audience was quick to disperse.
It is anticipated that the Town Board will vote on the adoption of Local Law # 3 of 2021, along with Supplemental Regulations for Commercial Marinas, at the scheduled Nov. 18 meeting.
Upper Saranac Foundation (USF) encourages watershed users who haven’t already to provide their own input. Written comments can be directed to the town clerk at the following address:
Santa Clara Town Hall
5359 State Route 30
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Public comments can also be made in person by attending the hearing at the Santa Clara Town Hall at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18.
As the voice of the watershed, defending water quality and natural resources, USF has been actively participating and providing input to better protect water quality, focusing on aquatic invasive species (AIS) spread prevention, pollution control, and environmental impacts.
While USF supports active and viable marinas in the watershed, it is in the best interest for water quality to ensure that marinas operate with care for natural resources and that there is comprehensive environmental review to prevent any potential negative impacts. USF is supportive of proposals in the regulations that are protective of the watershed, including:
- A plan to thwart the spread of AIS, consistent with USF’s Upper Saranac Lake AIS Prevention and Preparedness Plan.
- A Stormwater Prevention Plan to reduce runoff, erosion, and sediment infiltration.
- Prohibiting quick launch motor boat storage. (Dry vertical boat stacking storage, and launching,)
- A boat cleaning area that is designed, operated, and maintained in such a manner to prevent contamination of the waters.
- A plan relative to the inspection and maintenance of petroleum storage facilities and all associated equipment, and appropriate measures relative to spill prevention and counter-measures.
- A maintenance program sufficient to keep all adjacent shorelines, and the waterway, clean of debris.
- Lighting strategies to comply with International Dark-Sky Association guidance
- Guidelines for commercial docks, including floating docks made only of encapsulated flotation devices, barring obstacles to navigation, and recreation and use of waters.
USF has a unique knowledge of the Upper Saranac Lake watershed and is actively engaged with other lake associations on similar water quality matters as a member of the Adirondack Lakes Alliance. With this in mind, USF has determined that it is in the best interest of the watershed, to offer additional comments and suggestions that provide further safeguards and strategies to protect the watershed These include:
- Embrace a comprehensive analysis to assess the water bodies carrying capacity to withstand various watercraft uses and boater traffic prior to permitting the expansion or allowing for new marinas. Included should be considerations of impacts from boat size, noise, speeds, wakes, and wave action.
- Regulations for development or expansion of marinas so as not to create projected use impacts that exceed standard carrying capacity levels for each accessible waterbody.
- Regulating dock berth use types percentages (rental vs. seasonal boat owner slips) to allow town constituents dockage opportunities.
- Adding specificity to the Stormwater Prevention Plan to include limiting impervious surfaces and stormwater bio-retention or detention basins.
- Require marinas to submit a visual assessment site plan to evaluate visual and aesthetic impacts. In the case where impacts are identified, require the applicant to employ necessary measures to eliminate or mitigate adverse aesthetic effects.
- Relieve the burden on the Planning Board by providing more clear guidelines and parameters as to the number or square footage of allowable docks based on waterfront footage as is done for residential waterfront lots.
Below are links to some of USF’s previous written comments and suggestions to the Town Board:
The Santa Clara Town Board adopted a moratorium on commercial development that provided the town time to develop and enact new regulations governing marinas. The town hired a professional planning services company, Chazen Company, to work with the special committee made up of the town’s Variance and Planning board members to guide and develop these draft regulations.
Specific individual marina permit applications will be reviewed by the Planning Board and public hearings will be held prior to each approval.