Meeting of the Santa Clara Planning Board held on August 16, 2021
MEMBERS PRESENT: Board Members: Scottie Adams, Beth Hall, Mike Ritchie, Bill Young, John LaHart, and CEO, Todd David. Also present were Upper Saranac Lake Manager, Guy Middleton and Mike Damp. Barbara Martin also was present for part of the meeting
The meeting was called to order by Chair, Scottie Adams at 9:00 AM.
The first order of business was to approve the minutes of the previous meeting which all received by email. Beth Hall moved to approve the minutes. Mike Ritchie seconded the motion. All members were in favor. The minutes from the Planning Board meeting on 07-07-2021 are approved.
APPLICANT: Daniel Rockey
PARCEL ID: 453.-2-17
LOCATION: 124 Moss Rock Rd, USL
This variance seeks to "construct a boathouse and dock that exceeds the maximum total area allowed of 875 sq. ft. under the Town of Santa Clara Land Use Code Section 7.35. The dimensions of the boathouse and dock are 46 ft. wide, 15 ft. tall and 30 ft. in depth extending into the lake. The total area of the boathouse and dock, including any stairs and ramps is 1481 sq. ft."
The variance application includes a site map which shows 3 lots owned by the applicant, however, there are only two lots shown in the Franklin county tax rolls. Two of the lots appear to be considered one lot by Franklin County. The location of the proposed covered dock (boathouse) and (uncovered) dock is drawn on the site plan map, which shows a total waterfront for the parcel listed as 523.-2-17 as ~ 292 ft. However, the distances of the structure from each sideline are not shown.
The "boathouse" is shown as 37 ft. wide x 30 ft. long for a total sq. footage of 1110 sq. ft. which agrees with the covered dock area listed on the proposed pile dock layout. This boathouse exceeds the 625 sq. ft. maximum allowed under the Town of Santa Clara Land Use Code Section 7.35. There is an ~6 ft x 30 ft. uncovered dock on one side of the covered dock and a ~4 ft. x 30 ft. uncovered dock on the other side of the covered dock for a total of ~300 sq. ft. A ramp to the dock (17 ft. 8 in. x 3 ft) and a staircase to the deck over the covered dock (16 ft. x 3 ft) are shown and are ~100 sq. ft. The total "dock" space of the uncovered dock, the ramp and the stairs is ~400 Sq. ft. which is allowable under Section 7.35. The total area of the structure is reported as 1481 Sq. ft. which exceeds 875 sq. ft. maximum allowed under the Town of Santa Clara Land Use Code Section 7.35. Part of the application from the Variance board Secretary included a letter from a neighbor recommending that the variance be denied because of its large size. An additional letter was received this morning from another neighbor urging that the Land Use Code be enforced and variances be denied.
Discussion about the application focused on the exceptionally large size of the boathouse and the precedent that would be set by allowing such a huge variance. It was pointed out that in the past, a variance was granted for a larger than allowed boathouse, but that applicant had ~4000 ft. of shore line and 30 acres of land, was replacing an existing boathouse and agreed to no further development of the shoreline. Additionally, the boathouse was in a bay and not readily visible from the navigational channels. It was noted that numerous previous shore owners have modified their boathouse plans to comply with the Land Use code.
John LaHart moved that the Planning Board strongly recommend to the Variance Board that this variance application be denied because it is too large a variance and would set a very detrimental precedent. The motion was seconded by Mike Ritchie.
Roll Call Vote:
Beth Hall- recused
John LaHart - in favor
Mike Ritchie - in favor
Bill Young - in favor
Scottie Adams - in favor
The motion to recommend denying the variance passed. The chair will provide the Variance Board with a copy of the Planning Board minutes for this meeting at which the Variance was discussed.
Marina regulations and Special Use Permit (SUP)
The Planning Board reviewed Special Use Permit (SUP) and Marina regulations at their June 28, 2021 meeting. Proposed amendments to the Town Land Use Code were submitted to the Town Board after their July 7, 2021 meeting. It was discovered that the Town Board had set a July 1, 2021 deadline for final comments on amendments regarding marina regulations special Use permits and the Planning Board had not considered suggestions received from the Upper Saranac Lake Association ( USLA) and the Upper Saranac Foundation (USF). The recommendations have been received and the Planning Board will now consider these suggestions.
USLA recommendations were considered first.
"Adopt the Lake George Park Commission specific regulations and code as the template for TSC commercial marina code. " The LGPC regulations were used as a template by Chazen. Upper Saranac Lake is much smaller than Lake George and has fewer areas eligible for marinas. The Planning Board has an existing template to work from provided by Chazen.
- "organizations like USLA and USF or for that matter the public should have the ability to appeal the Planning Board's decisions in a similar manner."
The general consensus of the Planning Board was that this was not a matter that should be included in marina regulations, but might be better considered for any commercial expansion.
- "All references to "docks" should also include "moorings" and "Anchorage area" as these occur outside of typical dock locations and extend the marinas area of usage."
Planning board members agreed that this is a matter which should be considered in any marina application, but could come to no consensus or language to express the matter since some felt that moorings were inappropriate.
- "The draft document, Section X.4 states "Locations and lengths of other dock (proposed or existing) as well as docks within 500 feet of the property boundaries". This section is not totally clear and now that recreation (GR) zoned properties are included,"
Perhaps this could be amended to states "Locations and lengths of other dock (proposed or existing) as well as docks within 500 feet of marina boundaries".
Further concerns were about the carrying capacity of the lake and invasive species regulations.
Board members generally agreed that determining the carrying capacity of the lake, while important, should be something determined by NYS DEC or the APA or some entity that involved the whole of Upper Saranac Lake and should not be the responsibility of the Town or marina applicants.
Language regarding the introduction of invasive species is already included. 7.36 Depending on the scale and nature of marina operations, the Planning Board may request/require: C3 "A plan to prevent the introduction or spread of invasive species." Perhaps it should be required to have a plan.
USF recommendations; Invasive species and carrying capacity- already discussed.
USF recommendations to limit boat traffic; "Prohibit Quick Launch Motor Boat Storage" - this is an issue which has not been addressed and perhaps should be.
"Regulate dock berth use type percentages (no greater than 20% rental vs 80% seasonal boat owner slips)" Planning board members thought that this issue should be discussed in any marina application but should not be defined.
Recommendations for offshore distance criteria were discussed. Limiting dock length to a percentage of the width of the water (20%) or 100 ft, maximum width of 40 ft. or 8 ft., interference with navigation or other docks, setbacks of 50 ft and limitations on surface area based on shoreline. Some of these numbers seem unrealistic, but it was pointed out these numbers are meant to suggest that guidelines are needed. Planning Board members felt that they needed more time to work with these numbers. Encapsulated docks might be a good addition.
Visual impacts, on site wastewater management. Visual impacts, including lighting are addressed in the current plan. Additional language about wastewater management could be added.
Special Use Permit concerns: Authority of the Planning Board; no guidelines and no oversight. Guidelines for the Planning Board are provided in the Land Use Code, Section 6 and oversight is provided by the Town Board.
"USF recommends that Alternate Planning Board Members be named to vote in the absence of Planning Board members." The Planning Board has already taken action to have alternate members, primarily as a training exercise for future members but also in case a quorum cannot be achieved with regular members.
"USF requests that the USF and USLA be a participating partner in pre-application meetings". " "USF requests that the USF and the USLA be a participating partner in the review of the appeal".
Per legal counsel "Under the NYS Open Meeting Law, any time a quorum of the PB meets to conduct any business of that board the meeting must be open to the public and the public must be given notice of the meeting. It is not necessary to allow public participation / comment (except, of course, in the case of a scheduled Public Hearing) but the meeting must be open for the public to listen to and observe the meeting. "
Special Use Permit Appeals - Currently the regulation states that appeals are made to the Planning Board. Discussion followed about whether the appeal should be made to the Variance Board or the Town Board and whether there should be an avenue for other entities to appeal any Planning Board Decision. The Planning Board will consider that appeals should not go back to the Planning Board but some other board within the Town.
"The USF recommends there are accommodations made for the public or organizations such as the USF and USLA who are effected by decisions of Planning Board to be able to appeal as well."
The Planning board feels this is a legal question.
The Planning Board is happy to have USF Lake Manager, Guy Middleton attend all their meetings and offer comments.
Conclusion: more work is needed on the proposed LUC changes. It may be possible to include some of the requirements in the Special Use permit Form to be developed. The chair will request that the Town Board give the Planning Board additional time to work on the proposed Land Use Code amendments.
It was noted that Lake Placid - Town of North Elba have scheduled a hearing to revise their STR regulations. John LaHart reported that he had talked to the mayor of Lake placid and most problems were related to the different nature of the rentals within the village and outside of it. He reported that the Santa Clara Town Board had not moved forward to approve the STR regulations because Lake Placid had discontinued business with the company that the Planning board had put forth as a possible administrator of the regulations. It was pointed out that approving regulations and administering them are two separate facets of the issue. An audience member spoke about her frustrations with the short-term rental situation and people having essentially a "hotel" in a residential neighborhood.
Chair Scottie Adams will provide the Town Clerk with a copy of these meeting minutes from 08-16-2021 for posting in the Town website after the draft is approved by the Board members. She will plan to attend the next Town Board meeting and request more time to update the report on marina regulations, Special Use permits and other amendments to the Land Use Code.
The next Planning Board meeting is scheduled for 9 AM for Tuesday, August 31, 2021.
Bill Young moved that the meeting be adjourned. Mike Ritchie seconded the motion. All were in favor of the motion. Meeting was adjourned 10:30 AM.