TO: Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee Members
FROM: Peter VanAvery
DATE: July 9, 2007

You and I are facing a crisis. The Hudson River-Black River Regulating District has finally publicized its revised draft rules for access permit holders on Great Sacandaga Lake. They are an absolute disaster. If allowed to become final, for example, they will encourage the creation of vast numbers of new 10-foot-wide back-lot access permits, quite possibly next to your permit area or mine. In sum, they are a sellout to developers. A back-lot home with an access permit is worth tens of thousands of dollars more than an identical back-lot home without one.

In revising its rules, the first generation of which created a furor among permit holders last summer, the District largely ignored the key recommendations of its Great Sacandaga Lake Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee -- composed of stakeholders from around the lake, including representatives of access permit holders, marinas and other businesses, and towns -- met 18 times during the winter and spring. Unfortunately, the good faith under which it operated was not reciprocated by the District.

As the leader of a watchdog group, I feel that I have a responsibility to alert my neighbors around the lake to this situation. To allow myself to speak independently, I have resigned from the Advisory Committee, effective today.

Worst of the revised draft rules is Rule 6.29 (Request to Have Front-Lot Access Permit Area Reduced). The Advisory Committee (and many permit holders during last summer's public hearings) wanted this rule deleted because it would allow a front-lotter to give up -- permanently -- all except 10 feet of his access permit as long as the frontage was contiguous to a public highway or private right-of-way. But the District kept it in.

What does this mean to you? Suppose your next-door neighbor has a 50- or 100-foot-wide access permit. If he surrenders all except 10 feet and creates a right-of-way through his private property, you could find 4 or 9 back-lot permits adjacent to yours, each with a dock and boats. The quiet piece of heaven for which you may have paid $250,000 to $1 million would suddenly border the equivalent of a public bathing/boating beach.

You might ask: What front-lotter in his right mind would ever voluntarily give up some of his frontage? I've got news for you. I know some who would -- especially if a developer of back-lot properties offered them a financial incentive.

Other revised draft rules also are threatening.

The Advisory Committee wanted the District to guarantee that an access permit width, once issued, would not be reduced. The District turned down this recommendation -- see Rule 6.4 (Assignment of Access Permit Areas) and Rule 6.22 (Access Permit Area Widths) (The District's ability to reduce access permit widths at will has long deterred permit holders from criticizing its actions; there is fear of reprisals.)

The committee also wanted the rules to ban the creation of new pedestrian footpaths across front-lot permit areas to provide access to back-lot permits. This, too, was vetoed by the District (see Rule 5.5 -- Pedestrian Footpath to Access Permit Area).

Another shocker: The District sign posted on your permit area will no longer say that you have "exclusive use." The word "exclusive" is being removed.

And the list goes on. You can obtain a copy of the revised draft rules from the District's Albany and Mayfield offices. The former is located at 350 Northern Boulevard, Albany. The latter is located at 737 Bunker Hill Road, Mayfield. Copies also will be available at this summer's public meetings. Or you can download a copy from the District's web site: (The document is 61 pages long.)

The District has scheduled three public meetings on the revised draft rules: Monday, July 16, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Northville Central School; Saturday, July 21, from 10:00 a.m. to noon at Mayfield High School; and Wednesday, August 1, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at Northville Central School. Your job is to show up and speak out. Unfortunately, the District has not yet released details of the format for these meetings, so keep an eye on its web site (

I also urge you to complain to your elected officials. Remember, your quality of life and property value are in the balance. Help fight for the lake you and I love.

I hear people talking about organizing an anti-Regulating District demonstration to be held at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, July 16, at the Northville Bridge. Apparently, the plan is to gather a crowd and march to the public meeting at Northville Central School. Some are calling it the Great Sacandaga Lake Tea Party.

Monday, July 16, is a double-header. In addition to the first public meeting on the revised draft rules (see above), the District has scheduled a board meeting to be held at 11:00 a.m. on that date at Northville Central School. Although the agenda has not yet been released, there is a possibility that a representative from Saratoga Associates will make a recommendation about which District activities should be charged to the access permit system. Permit holders have been trying unsuccessfully to find out that information for the past four years.

The lake is currently at 764.22 feet above sea level -- nearly 3 feet below target.