by Andrew Getty
The Town of Webb Planning Board has had a fairly consistent and busy agenda right through this winter.
For March 1st of this year there are five applications on the agenda.
Two of the applications are directly related to two new single family homes that will start as the weather turn warmer.
Because both are in an existing Planned Development (PD) zoning district, the Planning Board has jurisdiction as an amendment to the original site plan approval for the PD district.
These applications were submitted well in advance, thus leaving a comfortable amount of time to schedule the hearings before the planning board and obtain the APA jurisdictional determination prior to the Planning Board’s meeting.
The application was submitted with surveys, existing site conditions, proposed site changes, APA determination has been received and letters from the Home Owner’s Association are pending, but anticipated soon.
Overall scheduling has shown good planning ahead. Assuming everything goes well, they should be able to dig footings as the weather allows.
Another of the applications before the Planning Board was received well in advance of the anticipated February 16th meeting.
But due to reasons beyond the control of the Board, the evening’s meeting was cancelled due to dangerous road and weather conditions.
This means all applications will be placed on the next regular meeting of the Board, which will be March 1.
This particular application involved contracters that had been hoping to use the ice on the lake as a working or staging area for the new boathouse project.
That would be much easier than trying to work off floating barges to set the piers involved.
And, as we all know, this year has been just a little light on both snow and ice on the lakes. This has now created a concern the weather may not cooperate.
The contractor wants to get started now, while the ice is stable enough to stage the job.
Not wanting to wait until the next Planning Board meeting, he asked if this office would grant the permit anyway.
Of course we can’t do that for the part of the project that requires Planning Board approval.
For this particular job, the reason for Planning Board approval was the dock attached to the boathouse—not the boathouse itself.
So, without hesitation, this office said we can issue the permit for the boathouse so at least they could start on that part of the project.
Sounds easy, right?
Well, since the boathouse and dock are so intricately connected, it only makes sense to do both at the same time.
The contractor, wanting to move forward asap, asked if each board member could be called individually at home for his/her approval.
Not only is that inappropriate, it’s illegal as well. That would be in direct contradiction to the Open Meetings law.
These types of applications are called “Conditional Use” for good reason. If they were considered a “Standard Use,” the code office can move forward issue permits without any Board oversight.
If the application did not involve the dock, the boathouse by itself is a Standard Use.
Why does the dock make this application need Planning Board approval, especially when most applications for a dock are a typical Standard Use?
Very simple, there already is another dock on the property.
Whether you agree or not, local law requires Planning Board approval as a Conditional Use to place more than one dock on a shoreline lot.
Not all locations would be suited for more than one dock.
The point of this article is three-fold.
First, planning projects ahead is so very important. Understanding the process and the time frame of that process will be critical to a timely start of the project.
Second, even when an application is filed ahead of time, being here in the Adirondacks the weather can play tricks on us.
And third, getting approvals from any Board, including the Planning Board that approval must be done at a regular meeting of that Board, in the public view as required by law.
Knowing the process, scheduling accordingly, and remembering where we live… These are the three main ingredients to a successful outcome.