Peter VanAvery, Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee
HRBRRD Public Meeting-Revised Draft Rules
Northville Central School
July 16, 2007

Rule 4.6
District Signs

For decades, the District's signs on access permit areas have stated that the permit holder is granted "exclusive use" of the area. Now, according to Rule 4.6, the District is going to strike the word "exclusive" from that phrase, supposedly because the word suggests permanence or ownership of what the District now calls a "provisional, temporary, revocable permit." That's baloney. When I take a vacation trip and rent a car for my wife and me to drive, I have to list both our names as intended drivers. When Avis hands me the keys, that car is for our exclusive use. But I would certainly never assume that I owned it. Nor would any other normal person.

This new rule is bureaucracy at its worst. The phrase "exclusive use" has an important role to play on the District's signs. If somebody trespasses on your permit area, you can say: "You're on my access permit segment. I have exclusive use. This sign says so. Beat it!" The naked word "use" ... all by itself ... does not carry the weight of the phrase "exclusive use."

And here's another consideration: How much is it going to cost to replace the approximately 4,700 District signs posted around the lake? Access permit holders are expected to pay the full cost of the access permit system. We are not going to stand by mutely while the District fritters away our money on a whim. Access permit holders have made it clear that they want the phrase "exclusive use" retained. The BBAC urges you to do so.

Rule 6.29
Request to Have Front-Lot Access Permit Area Reduced

In the BBAC's opinion, this is the most threatening of the revised draft rules. We want it deleted -- and that was also the recommendation of many members of the public at last summer's hearings and of the District's own Advisory Committee. This destructive rule 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.

This rule represents an attack on the quality of life and property values of front-lotters. It would greatly swell the number of back-lot access permits. It is a sellout to developers. A back-lot home with an access permit is worth tens of thousands of dollars more than a similar back-lot home without one.

Suppose you are a front-lotter. Suppose also that your 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 your beach. The quiet piece of heaven for which you might have paid $150,000 to $1 million would suddenly border the equivalent of a public bathing and boating beach.

What front-lotter in his right mind would ever voluntarily give up some of his frontage? I know some who would -- especially if a developer of back-lot properties offered them a share of the potential profits.

Earlier today, the District's board took the first step toward hiring a public relations consultant. As a fellow with some experience in PR, I'd like to suggest to you that if you really want to improve your image, this rule would be a good place to start. If you don't heed the recommendations of the public and your own Advisory Committee, you are very likely going to be wasting your money.

Rule 6.22
Access Permit Area Widths

Although many access permit holders dislike and distrust the Regulating District, they fear retaliation if they criticize it publicly. This revised draft rule is one source of the power that inspires that fear. It states in part: "The District has the discretion and right to adjust ... access permit widths and the boundaries of any and all access permit areas in a manner which it deems reasonable." Translation: The District has the broad power to do anything it wants ... whenever it wants ... in regard to access permit widths, and it does not have to explain to you why it did what it did.

Many members of the public, including the District's own Advisory Committee, have recommended strict limits on the Regulating District's use of this power. The committee, for example, recommended that the District should adjust access permits and boundaries only under unique circumstances and on a case-by-case basis. Further, the Committee specified in detail six limited scenarios under which the District could exercise this power. However, in issuing the revised draft rules, the District vetoed the intent of those recommendations.

The BBAC urges the District to go back and adopt the Committee's original recommendations. If this rule stays in the rule book, the Regulating District will need more than a single public relations consultant to repair the damage to its image.

Thank you.