The Santa Clara Town Board has released its proposed marina regulations for review. Following a public hearing, the town board will vote on acceptance of Local Law # 3 of 2021 along with Supplemental Regulations for Commercial Marinas. Public comments will be accepted prior to the Town Board meeting and the public hearing scheduled for 6:00 pm on Wednesday, October 13.
As the voice of the watershed; defending water quality and natural resources, the USF has been actively participating and providing input to better protect water quality, focusing on AIS spread prevention, pollution control, and environmental impacts.
While the USF supports active and viable marinas in the watershed, it is in the best interest of water quality to ensure that marinas operate with care for natural resources and that there is a comprehensive environmental review to prevent any potential negative impacts. The USF is supportive of proposals in the regulations that are protective of the watershed and that have been incorporated into the proposed regulations that including:
- A Plan to thwart the spread of aquatic invasive species – consistent with the 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 countermeasures.
- A maintenance program sufficient to keep all adjacent shoreline, 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.
The USF has a unique knowledge of the USL 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, the 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 waterbodies’ 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 not to create projected use impacts that exceeds 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.
The proposed regulations were only made public on Thursday, September 30, allowing a short window of opportunity for written comments. The USF encourages watershed users to provide their own input. Written comments will need to be received by the Town Clerk prior to 4 pm on Wednesday, October 13 to be considered. Comments should 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 on Wednesday, October 13, at 6:00 pm.
Below are links to some of the 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.