BALLSTON LAKE: New dock rules set sail

Those looking for coveted dock space on Ballston Lake will need to paddle into Ballston Town Hall this month to check out new local laws that went into effect Friday, June 1.

The new town ordinances place restrictions on docks, moorings, boathouses and marinas on the lake. Members of the Ballston Lake Improvement Association culled the listing available now at the town clerk's office from neighboring waters, including Lake George. The association's work crafting the right rules took about three years.

"We realized we didn't have anything on the books; we didn't think we'd ever need them," said Peter Herman, the association's president. "Then there was a developer planning to put in housing units at the Cappiello property, and we had the sudden vision of a marina or a bunch of docks lined up available for rental."

The eight-page list of restricted uses was drawn up to minimize the impact to the shoreline environment and its natural character by minimizing structures and maintaining conforming construction standards.

There are 261 properties lining the quiet, picturesque lake, known for its great fishing. Most have docks built of weather-worn wood, with Adirondack chairs and a canoe or kayaks tethered or pulled onto the shore. All of the existing docks are grandfathered in, and don't have restrictions unless the owners decide to rebuild.

"As of June 1, anyone wanting to change their dock needs to go to the building department for a permit," said Herman. "It becomes just like any other construction project in town."

The permit comes with a modest fee of $50, since the laws weren't launched as an income generator for the town. Some specifics include restrictions on dock configurations, a minimum of 15-feet setback from the adjacent property line, no access to other docks, no docks interfering with flowing water or wave washes, and no covered docks with permanent roofing. Variances are up to the town zoning board to grant or turn down.

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