Some residents living in a proposed Ballston Lake protection district said they fear that they may be on the hook for repairs of septic systems costing between $25,000 and $30,000 because of new laws, but town officials say that’s not the case.
The boundaries of the proposed Ballston Lake Overlay District would nearly match a lake watershed map drawn by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and includes about 1,500 houses as well as several farms and small businesses.
The area encompasses all the land where activity can cause pollution to run into tributaries or directly into the lake.
During a workshop meeting on the plan Tuesday night, several of the 75 people who showed up said they had been told the new regulations would bring inspections of all septic systems, and if any problems were found, a new system would have to be built.
“I don’t have $25,000 or $30,000 to put in a replacement septic system,” one man said.
Engineer Kathryn Serra, who works for the town’s engineering firm, C.T. Male Associates, said the regulations would not allow the town to inspect every system.
“If a system fails, you have to fix it. That’s the law now. This wouldn’t change anything,” she said.
But the new laws would make it tougher for new construction in the district.
She said the rewrite of the proposals closely follow state regulations with the exception of rules for new construction in Ballston.
“The rules only apply to septic systems when they fail. We would ask that you fix it and in a proper way. That’s already the state law,” she said. “It’s already against the law to pour oil or chemicals into a storm sewer.
“We want to see runoff treated beyond New York state standards,” Serra said. “That can be done as simply as leaving some trees for a buffer instead of clear-cutting a lot.”
She said developers can also install catch basins and retention ponds to prevent silt and chemicals such as fertilizers from being flushed into the watershed.
“The sources of pollution are silt, sewage, herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer runoff, automobile fluids and garbage and yard waste,” Serra said. “I was asked to look at the first draft of the [regulations] and found they were too onerous for property owners. They would have prevented people from salting their driveways.”
She said the town regulation would not prohibit any farming activity that is allowed by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Frank Shipp, vice president of the Ballston Lake Improvement Association, which oversees the lake, said he fears mistaken information in the community about the district could delay final approval of the regulations.
“I’m upset the issue of septic systems is becoming a red herring that is a distraction from the important issue of protecting the lake,” he said. “If we allow ourselves to delay, we are missing the bigger picture, which is new construction.”
Shipp is also a member of the committee that wrote the proposed town legislation.
“An awful lot of people are talking without having read the document. We need people to inform themselves,” he said.
Town Councilwoman Mary Beth Hynes said a public hearing will be held before the Town Board votes on the legislation.
A map depicting the district is posted on the town’s Web site, www.townofballstonny.nycap.rr.com. Copies of the overlay proposal are available at Town Hall as well as on the Web site.
The district begins just north of Outlet Road and runs to Hollister Way to the south. The western area zigzags between Charlton Road near Goode Street to Chase Lane and Marlyn Drive, while to the east side of the lake the line runs between Lake Road and Benedict Road.