Gov. David Paterson has suspended the proposed rules changes for the Great Sacandaga Lake access permit system, administration officials said today.
New York state Deputy Secretary for the Environment Judith Enck said today was the State Administration Procedure Act deadline for Paterson to either send forward regulation changes to the secretary of state, initiating a 30-day public comment period, or to stop the process. She said the numerous letters she's received on the access permit issue have convinced her the process needs a "time out."
"We're withdrawing the proposed regulations, for now," Enck said. "We just felt like we needed some more time to fully analyze the implications of the changes."
The regulatory changes Paterson dropped would have granted public access to all of the shoreline of the Great Sacandaga Lake, but would have outlawed any landscaping of the state land, reflecting a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation push to return the lands to a "natural state." The new regulations would have overturned the decades-old lake access permit system put in place after the state created the artificial lake to prevent flooding of the Hudson River. The existing permit system allows permit holders exclusive use of the state land inside the lake access permits.
The proposed rules proved highly unpopular with many of the 4,800 people with lakeside property, the value of which was often pegged to exclusive lakeside access through the permit system.
Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, said he's received calls on the issue from all over the state. He said he and Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Herkimer, have been lobbying Paterson for weeks to call off the new regulations.
"I'm very, very pleased that he took action here," Farley said.
Enck said the administration still views the shoreline of the Sacandaga as state forest preserve land and has not given up on reforming the permit system, but she said the administration does not support returning the lands to a "natural state," a viewpoint asserted by HRBRRD and DEC officials at earlier stages of the reform process. She said reforming the lake access permit system will need to begin again at the first stage of the process under the HRBRRD and should this time include more communication with the public.
"We'll start from the beginning and the value of that is we want to encourage public input in this process," Enck said.