Trial resumes on Canada Lake boathouse zoning

Photographs of a Canada Lake boathouse, which the town of Caroga seeks to have demolished and which

Photographs of a Canada Lake boathouse, which the town of Caroga seeks to have demolished and which helped prompt Adirondack Park Agency regulation changes, were put into evidence Tuesday as a non-jury trial before Judge Richard C. Giardino resumed in state Supreme Court.

The photos, presented by Albany attorney Salvatore D. Ferlazzo, lawyer for the town of Caroga, depict finished rooms and a propane gas stove for heating.

The building is more than double the size allowed under town and Adirondack Park Agency zoning regulations, the town is arguing, and is also in noncompliance because it appears to be laid out and equipped as a house.

Ferlazzo, of the Albany firm of Girvin & Ferlazzo, is asking Giardino to rule that the structure is a house and not a boathouse as originally prescribed in a 1999 building permit issued to owner Joseph Herms and should therefore be demolished. Town officials have said that when Herms found he could not get a permit to build a house on the property, he decided to achieve that goal anyway by getting a permit for a boathouse.

In 1999, regulations defining boathouses were somewhat loose, but this and other cases led the Adirondack Park Agency to tighten its boathouse definition in 2002.

Herms’ lawyer, Sheila Galvin of the Delmar of Galvin & Morgan, argued Tuesday that the propane stove was installed to provide heat during construction and that boating and water gear inside the building during a December inspection show it was being used as a boathouse.

Caroga Code Enforcement Officer Michael Heberer testified Tuesday as the trial resumed after more than a month on hiatus. Heberer testified that the first floor alone exceeds the 1,232 square feet allowed in the building permit issued eight years ago by the town.

That permit expired before the building was completed and there has been a stop work order in effect since 2000 as the case has been in litigation in both the state and federal courts. In this latest edition, the town filed suit against Herms to force demolition.

Heberer was succeeded on the witness stand by Town Clerk Linda Gilbert, who was scheduled to present the permit records on the project.

The trial is expected to conclude by the end of the week or early next week.

Categories: Schenectady County

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