Lanesborough Passes Lake Dock Regulations
Selectman Robert Barton kept track of the amendments — two passed and one failed — on a white board.
Voters approved Tuesday a lengthy bylaw set to regulate docks, rafts and moorings after more than an hour of discussion and multiple amendments at a special town meeting.
The original document had called for regulations and specific permitting processes for the various water objects but two amendments — both from the Board of Selectmen — narrowed the bylaw's scope.
One amendment limited the restrictions from the entire lake to only at the end of the rights of way — public, shared and private. Another amendment struck all of the permitting process for docks and eliminated them.
"This bylaw will not affect any existing docks that are properly licensed by the state," interim Town Administrator Joseph Kellogg said. "The key question is whether they have a legal license from the commonwealth."
Kellogg said the amendment to regulate at the end of the rights of way came after a public meeting on the issue a week ago, when the majority of residents agreed that those areas need regulating but private property does not.
"This is not a minor issue. This is my second or third most stressful issue when it comes to town affairs," Selectman Robert Barton said, adding that in the last year, he has personally been approached from 11 different people with 17 complaints.
The goal is to eliminate neighborhood arguments over lake access. One neighbor can no longer put up a dock that restricts access for others who have rights to the lake.
Voters voiced many concerns about docks that have already installed — fearing the town will force them to be removed. However, the bylaw has provisions that allows for an exception process and it does not include any existing docks.
Kellogg said an owner could be ordered to remove a dock by the Department of Environmental Protection if it is not legally permitted by the state. But DEP would only do that after a complaint and subsequent investigation, he said.
If forced to be removed, the town will not allow a new dock installed without a public hearing and exception process.
On multiple occasions, residents questioned having docks on private property and the responsibility of the rights-of-way holders themselves — including deed disputes. Moderator Robert Reilly constantly had to remind voters that this bylaw only affects the water at the end of the rights of way.
There are multiple ongoing conversations about lake rights — including separate discussions regarding roads and the ownership of the various rights of way. That had some voters worried that the dock bylaw was too convoluted and they expressed concern that many residents may not have understood what was happening on Tuesday.
The town has been working on dock bylaws since 2007.
Voters also approved allocating an additional $19,000 for the town administrator salary. The town is now seeking a full-time administrator but had budget only enough money for a "70 percent" administrator.
Tags: bylaws, docks, Pontoosuc, right of way,