TO: Batchellervillle Bridge Action Committee Members
FROM: Peter VanAvery
DATE: August 11, 2006

The Hudson River-Black River Regulating District has rescheduled its first summer meeting to gather public input on its revised rules for Great Sacandaga Lake's permit system. The meeting will be held on Thursday, August 17, 2006 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Northville Central School, 131 South Third Street, Northville. The August 2 public meeting was postponed because of hot weather and the lack of air conditioning in the auditorium.

The Regulating District has posted the August 17 public meeting agenda and the draft rules on its website at This web page also contains a form for people who wish to submit written comments. Copies of the draft rules can be obtained at the District's Sacandaga and Albany offices.

This meeting will focus primarily on draft rules related to access permit eligibility and permit fees. Attendees will be able to make comments and ask questions about the draft rules. The remaining draft rules will be addressed at the second and final summer public input meeting, to be held on August 23 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Northville Central School auditorium.

After the August 17 meeting, the agenda for the August 23 public meeting will posted on the Regulating District's web site at

The District's rule-revision process is an utter disaster. At the final two public input meetings this month -- and in letters to elected officials -- you and I need to press the District to abandon its goal of completing the process by year-end. Instead, it should focus its efforts on producing a set of rules that are logical, fair, clear, and enforceable -- even if the process extends well into next year. As the draft rules show, that is not happening. They are a mess.

Further, the review process is an absolute joke. Before the draft rules can become law, they must be submitted for review and approval by a number of State and Federal agencies, including the Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform (GORR), the Adirondack Park Agency, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and possibly others. To date, they have been submitted for preliminary review only to GORR, which has not yet issued a ruling.

In other words, at the public input meetings, you and I are being asked to comment on draft rules that may not even be worded legally and may be rewritten in ways we don't like (or even killed) during the official review process. How dumb is that? Be advised also that the District has no plans to hold any additional public meetings after this month.

By dropping the year-end deadline, the District could stretch out this process and schedule additional public comment sessions after those outside agencies have completed their preliminary reviews and have fought their inevitable turf wars over how the draft rules should be worded.

I urge you to run off copies of the draft rules or to obtain them from the District. The more I study them, the more I realize how threatening they are. For a front lotter, the most dangerous is Draft Rule 6.29, which would allow a front lotter to surrender part of his permit area permanently, allowing the District to create additional 10-foot-wide back lot permits.

Suppose your next-door neighbor decided to surrender 10 feet of his permit footage. He'd want the new back lot segment to be located on one side -- definitely not in the middle -- of his permit area. That could place it up against your permit area. Next, the back lotter would face the challenge of actually reaching his new permit area; he can't cross private property unless the owner gives him permission. He could, however, ask the District to create a 5-foot-wide pathway that stretches from the nearest public right-of-way across other permit areas (including yours) to his assigned area. He and his invitees could then traipse back and forth across your permit segment at all hours of the day and night. And if any of them had an accident while crossing your permit area, you would be liable.

This draft rule should be killed.

The District's cancelation of the August 2 public input meeting was bungled. Since meteorologists had predicted that it would be a repeat of the previous day, which was a scorcher, I called the District at 10:00 a.m. with every expectation of learning that the meeting had been postponed. I could then have used my email distribution list to alert BBAC members. Instead, I was told that the meeting was still on and that the Northville Central School auditorium would be cooled by fans (as if moving 90-degree air around would be a solution).

Before noon, the news media were reporting that the NYRA, another state authority, had canceled the complete afternoon card at the Saratoga Raceway. But still no word came from the District, which obviously concluded that people deserved less consideration than horses. Finally, at 3:30 p.m. -- just three hours before the meeting -- the District pulled the plug. By then, I was driving up to the lake and unavailable.

When people showed up at the school, a notice posted on the door told them the bad news. The District should have stationed a manager there to apologize for the late cancelation. By then, however, the staff had scampered back to the safety of their bunker on Bunker Hill Road. This was yet one more reminder that permit holders are to the District as fleas are to a dog.

The lake's level is currently at 765 feet above sea level -- a few inches over target.

If we can find enough volunteers to help collect signatures, we would like to launch two petition drives aimed at Governor Pataki, who wields executive control over the District. The first petition would urge him to order the District to manage water levels more responsibly. The second would urge him to instruct the District to abandon its plan to complete the rule-revision process by year end. If you'd like to help, email me or call me at 863-2317.

Circle Tuesday, November 7 on your calendar. That's the date of the general election. It'll be your opportunity to pay back those elected officials who say they feel your pain over the way the Regulating District has damaged your property and your quality of life at Great Sacandaga Lake -- but have done nothing to solve the problem.