Judge opens access to lake

Overturning a decision issued in September, State Supreme Court Justice Thomas D. Nolan issued a nine-page ruling Wednesday, Nov. 22, saying the city of Saratoga Springs can send its experts onto property along Saratoga Lake.

The city wants access to the property to finish tests, mandated under the state's Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process, related to its plan to use the lake as a water source.

The city was seeking access under eminent domain laws to conduct the tests, which include shovel tests, wetland identification, digging trenches, soil borings, surveys and appraisals.

The city water system has been criticized by the Saratoga Lake Association, a group of homeowners on and around Saratoga Lake. Earlier this year, the association sought a ruling in the matter, holding up the city's access to lake properties.

At that time, Nolan ruled in favor of the Saratoga Lake Association, overturning the city's environmental review for its Saratoga Lake water supply project. Nolan said the city did not consider the impact on the lake's watershed, and that the city should have studied development in the lake's watershed in determining whether the lake would remain an acceptable drinking water source.

The city failed to give due consideration to the environ-mental impacts the Saratoga Lake proposal, if implemented, would have on activities, land use and development with the lake's watershed in conducting the environmental review for the project to tap the lake as a supplemental drinking water source, Nolan said.

In the past few months, residents have pleaded with the Saratoga Springs City Council to sign on to the Saratoga County water plan. Many called the city plan a waste of taxpayer money, and said it is only going forward over the objections of property owners. The city had sued 13 property owners for access, according to court documents.

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