SPC Co-Chair, Joe Sullivan, addressed the HRBRRD Board meeting asking for the board's support in opposition to the beneficiaries study (7/10/18)
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Legislative Update - July 13, 2018
Our phone calls are making a difference, Albany is taking notice.
Now is the time to put this issue to bed. Our best option to avoid a long drawn out battle is to get the bill vetoed.
If you or your family members have not called, please do it as soon as possible. Let's take advantage of the momentum we have.
Please take a few minutes and call the Governor's office at 518-474-8390 and ask him to veto bill S7957A, the bill requiring the Hudson River Black River Regulating District undertake a new beneficiaries study. The bill is flawed, and unjustly targets permit holders on the Great Sacandaga Lake and the people of Fulton and Saratoga counties.
Text of SPC Statement to the HRBRRD Board 7/10/2018:
Good morning, and thank you for allowing us to state our opposition to the State’s idea to shift the burden of paying for the HRBRRD operations from the recipients of flood control onto the backs of permit holders and the surrounding communities.
I am Joe Sullivan, Co-Chair of the Sacandaga Protection Committee. I am here on behalf of permit holders, the SPC and our local communities.
The SPC was formed back when the state tried to take away the rights we enjoy as permit holders. As a community, the SPC raised well over $150,000 and hired lawyers to challenge the new rules. Through our collective voices, Albany heard us loud and clear. We all love our lake and its communities, and we challenged the unilateral and punitive rule changes.
We recognize the lake is unique, and we’re reasonable people who want to protect our interests and our way of life.
I’d like to make it perfectly clear that we understand this is an Albany initiative, and not coming from the HRBRRD administration or their board.
We wish to make our statement on the record today. We are opposed to being considered beneficiaries for financial purposes, and to ask you to consider fighting back against doing another study. It’s already been decided in state and federal courts that the District’s methodology for assessing and applying costs is fair and appropriate. A new study would be expensive and impractical, and in the end, a waste of money.
There are several legal precedents that support this view.
In the Niagara Mohawk Power Corp v. Hudson River Black River Regulating District lawsuit, the trial court found that the permit system is legal, no two permit properties are the same, permit holders receive no flood protection benefits, and the primary benefit permit holders receive is recreational.
The court upheld that the methodology used by the District to apportion costs is appropriate. Practically speaking, a new study, if undertaken, would undoubtedly be expensive, and would necessitate a permit by permit evaluation to ascertain what is an unquantifiable benefit. Doing another study would not only be inefficient, it would be impracticable.
As far back as the Districts lawsuit against the FJ&G Railroad the NYS Court of Appeals recognized that it is difficult, if not impossible, to appraise the benefits the lake offers in terms of cash. The court went on to observe that regulations of the waters was a public good that enhanced public health and safety.
Years later, the city of Albany sued the District. Again, the court found “the District concluded that flood protection of communities downstream from the Conklingville Dam constituted the most direct and clearly defined benefit — apart from headwater benefits — resulting from its operations.”
In the Albany case, the Court held that the District’s interpretation of applying costs to the 5 counties was reasonable and it should thus be upheld.”
Furthermore, the DEC has approved the current methodology the District has adopted for apportioning operating and maintenance costs among the five counties that are located downstream from the Dam.
The SPC’s positions is the District’s current methodology is a uniform and even-handed approach that should remain unchanged.
This legislation is nothing more than a not-so-thinly-veiled attempt to shift the financial burden from the true beneficiaries to our communities.
I will close by stating these points:
- Permit holders do not own lakefront property. Courts have held that we enjoy a recreational benefit, A recreational benefit was not contemplated in the statute, and may vary from year to year. Use of the permitted areas are limited by District regulations.
- Permits are revocable. Any benefit a permit holder realizes could be considered temporary.
- Courts have noted the administrative impossibility of appropriately assessing “recreational” benefits on a parcel by parcel basis, casting doubt on whether it would be appropriate to assess permit holders.
- Attempting to shift the methodology from flood control to other ill-defined benefits creates an administrative burden that will not only be impossible to manage, but it is sure to create inequities and spawn litigation.
- The existing methodology is permitted by the statute and has been upheld by the Appellate Division, Third Department. Moving forward in a new direction will open up the District to litigation as has been seen in the past, only on a much wider scale, given the number of properties that may be affected.
We are hopeful that our statement will give you pause to consider opposing taking the steps outlined in the bill and continue your work with the Governors office to find a better solution. We, along with our legal team will work against the undertaking of any study that considers upstream beneficiaries liable for the cost of the District’s operations beyond the cost of the permit system.
Please contact the Governor's office via telephone and ask the Governor to veto bill S7957A, the bill requiring the Hudson River Black River Regulating District undertake a new beneficiaries study. The bill is flawed, and unjustly targets permit holders on the Great Sacandaga Lake and the residence of Fulton and Saratoga counties.
Contact us by phone:
Office hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm
Sacandaga Protection Committee Call to Action
Rally at Bradt Building in Northville
July 10th, 9:00am
The next Hudson River Black River Regulating District Board of Directors' meeting is scheduled for JULY 10th at 10:00am at the Bradt Building in Northville. The SPC is holding a brief rally at the Bradt Building from 9:00am to 9:55am, and will issue a public statement concerning the Beneficiaries Legislation outside the building at 9:30am.
The SPC is asking as many people as possible attend the rally as a show of strength and unity. We believe we can send a strong statement to the HRBRRD, State Legislators and the Administration in Albany that we must be heard as the study is developed.
Please invite as many friends and neighbors as you can to the 9:00am Rally. It is not necessary to stay for the HRBRRD meeting, the SPC will be there and make our statement.
June 23, 2018
Sacandaga Protection Committee Legislative Alert
PROPOSED LEGISLATION COULD RESULT IN DRAMATIC INCREASE IN GSL PERMIT FEES AND ADDED COSTS TO COUNTY AND TOWN GOVERNMENTS
The NYS Legislature passed a bill requiring the Hudson River Black River Regulating District undertake a comprehensive study to determine the beneficiaries of the Great Sacandaga Lake to determine who should be paying for the operations of the District. Once again the state is trying to shift responsibility from the communities that receive the benefits of flood protection onto the backs of permit holders and our local communities.
The legislation - passed in the frantic rush at the end of the session - calls for all revenue sources to be examined. In the justification for the law, the sponsors specifically claim (albeit incorrectly) “The smallest source of revenue for the district comes from the Sacandaga Lake Access Permits.”.
The justification goes on to say “There is a long and complicated history regarding the apportionment of costs, however, it is time for the District to take a fresh look at the localities that are actually benefiting from their operations”.
Immediately upon notification of this legislation, Joe Sullivan, Co-Chair of the SPC reached out to John Hodgson, Interim Director of the HRBRRD to ask John for his thoughts. Amazingly, John knew nothing about this, and when the SPC reached out to members of the HRBRRD Board, they too were unaware.
The potential impact of this legislation harkens back to the proposed 10-fold permit fee increase 10 years ago. The revolt against the increase by community members and permit holders led to an outcry culminated by a public meeting in Northville that some estimated over 1,000 people attended. You may remember that the District, as a punishment for us not going meekly along with the proposal, proposed new draconian permit rules. It was the SPC and their legal team, along with the help of more than 2,000 donations from the community, that stopped the rules from taking effect.
The new law requires the District to present the list of all beneficiaries to Albany by January 2020. We do not belong on that list, and are at the beginning of an 18 month journey to make sure we’re not. The SPC is going to need your financial support to fund our legal efforts.
Downstream beneficiaries should pay for the benefit of flood control, and the permit holders and our local communities should not be subsidizing their benefits. If you believe in our cause, our way of life, that our taxes are already too high and we shouldn’t be considered beneficiaries of flood control, we need your help as much now as we needed it when we formed.
The SPC is the only organization representing the local community and permit holders that can take on this legal issue.
Please consider a donation of $200 or more to help us fund our anticipated legal costs. It’s a small price to pay to protect the value of your home and the way of life we all love.
Donations may be made through our How to Donate page on our website, or mailed to: SPC, P.O. Box 86, Mayfield, NY 12117.
Click on the link below to read the details of Bill S7957A and the "legislative justification":
Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lovethesacandaga
Welcome to the web site of the Sacandaga Protection Committee. Formed in 2009 in response to proposed changes to the 80 year old Sacandaga Lake permit system, the SPC's mission is to protect the environmental, economic and legal interests of the entire lake community. Although the permit system rule changes have been put on hold, the SPC continues to support the interests of the lake community. The SPC is active in several ongoing issues with potential impact to the lake community.
Click here to purchase tickets to our Summer Chicken BBQ Fundraiser BBQ Tickets
January 10, 2018
2017 was a great year for the lake and the SPC. The SPC continues to be successful in recommending board members for the HRBRRD, and can report there are now three permit holders on their board. The SPC continues to vet potential board members, and encourages the Governor’s office to make appointments of qualified individuals to fill all the vacant and expired board seats so the HRBRRD can do their work.
We are happy to report the legal issues facing the lake are quiet, but we are keeping our lobbyist and attorneys at the ready. We are committed to ensure the Great Sacandaga Lake stake holders are not caught off guard by any potential changes to the administration of the HRBRRD and the permit system.
We’re also continuing to monitor the HRBRRD assessments for the Hudson River and Black River areas, and the proposed law to eliminate the HRBRRD and put the operation of the lake and permit system under the control of the NYS Power Authority. This legislation has been dormant in the Assembly, but we know it could be brought out of committee at any time. We need to stay vigilant. You should consider the SPC as your personal “watch dog” whose primary purpose is to alert you to potential problems and actions that could cause you and your family great personal dissatisfaction if improper legislation and/or rules are passed not taking your interests into consideration.
Our constant challenge is funding our organization, and fundraising is hard work. It takes the effort of everyone on the board, plus a dedicated group of volunteers to pull it off each year. This year we had our 2nd successful raffle, and continued our traditional summer event and our autumn Redneck event at Sport Island Pub.
We rely 100% on the generosity of the permit holders, along with other lake users and community members. We have no paid staff, and the money we raise is used to keep our lobbyist, Bolton-St. John, on contract, and to pay our attorneys at Hodgson Russ for work they perform, administration and bookkeeping, and fundraising.
This year we’re asking again not only for your financial support, but to reach out to your friends and neighbors and invite them to make a donation, buy a raffle ticket or to attend one of our events. Donations for the SPC may be mailed to Fulton Montgomery Chamber of Commerce at 1 N. Main St, Gloversville NY 12078 or by Paypal through our website.
Feel free to find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lovethesacandaga and/or our website at www.sacandagaprotectioncommittee.org and share with your fellow GSL friends.
We are on duty 24/7/365 with our legal team ready to fight for you! Please support this effort with your donations and help!
Joe Sullivan, Co-Chair
Lou Stutzke Co-Chair
LATEST NEWS & EVENTS
Monday, June 4, 2018, David Smail, Co-chair of the Property Owners Association of Day, wrote:
According to Fulton County Sheriff's Department there was a boat accident on the Great Sacandaga Lake around 3:40pm on Saturday June 2nd, in front of Highland Avenue, Mayfield near Vandenburgh Point.
Several individuals saw or heard the crash and responded in their boats to assist the boaters. The responders were able to get the boaters to shore safely.
One boat was floating in the bay with several individuals on board, when a second boat towing a wake boarder, slammed into and ended up several feet onto the rear of first boat. The driver was watching the wake boarder and not observing the area in front of him.
There were four persons injured. Two were treated at the scene while the two others were transported to area hospitals. Both of the individuals who were transported were conscious and alert.
Members of the Sheriff's Office, the New York State Police, the Mayfield Fire Department and EMS, the Ambulance Service of Fulton County, Fire Coordinator Steve Santa Maria and Sheriff Giardino responded to the scene.
Alcohol was not involved in this accident. The Sheriff's Office will be issuing one or more tickets to the operator of the boat towing the wake boarder.
HRBRRD NEWS RELEASE
January 17, 2018
STATE'S RESERVOIRS PREVENT MAJOR HUDSON RIVER FLOODING
Great Sacandaga Lake and Indian Lake Reservoir Reduce Peak Hudson River Flow by 74%
The Great Sacandaga Lake and Indian Lake Reservoir provided 1.93 billion cubic feet of water storage on January 13, preventing the Hudson River from reaching flood stage from the Town of Hadley to Fort Edward. The State's two Hudson River regulating reservoirs stored more than 14.37 billion gallons of runoff on Saturday, reducing the peak Hudson River flow by approximately 26,100 cubic feet per second (cfs) Saturday morning.
Last week's rainfall and runoff from melting snow caused the Hudson River to reach a peak flow of about 9,500 cfs at Hadley and 13,000 cfs at Fort Edward on Saturday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The storage capacity of the Great Sacandaga Lake and Indian Lake Reservoir prevented the Hudson River at Fort Edward from reaching flood stage.
Without the combined storage capacity of the State's Hudson River regulating reservoirs, Hudson River flow would have peaked at more than 35,000 cfs at Corinth and 39,000 at Fort Edward. The reservoirs prevented the Hudson River from reaching a flood stage of 28.5 feet at Fort Edward, about 0.5 feet below major flood stage, on January 13. Operation of the Great Sacandaga Lake reduced the height of flood water by more than 4.5 feet, significantly reducing potential flood damage to buildings, roads and bridges in Hadley, Corinth, South Glens Falls, Glens Falls, Hudson Falls, and Fort Edward.
If Great Sacandaga Lake had not been constructed to retain a flood event like that which occurred on Saturday then flooding and inundation of roads in Northumberland, camps in Lake Luzerne, parts of Route 9N and cellars in homes in Corinth, first floors of structures along Old Bend Road in Moreau, and numerous roads and property in the Village of Fort Edward, would have occurred.
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