Steps against polluters

Cassadaga passes new wetlands protection law

OBSERVER Photo by Damian Sebouhian Pictured is Cassadaga Lake as seen from Dale Drive. The Village Board passed a new lake and wetlands protection law during Wednesday’s meeting.

CASSADAGA — After a brief public hearing, the Cassadaga Village Board unanimously passed a new law designed “for the protection of wetlands, water bodies and watercourses within the village of Cassadaga.”

The new law, established in part by efforts of the Lake Association, aims to streamline the code enforcement process against potential polluters of Cassadaga Lake and the surrounding wetlands.

“The board became aware there was a problem where work was being done on the lake and in the protected wetland area,” explained Village Attorney Bill Duncanson, who drafted the law. “Work was being done that was prohibited under New York state law, whether it be clearing, building break walls, whatever it might be. By the time the DEC responded, often the work was already done and there might be a fine, but the damage was done.”

Now, with the new law in place, the code enforcement officer has the power to issue a work stop order “to the resident that is engaging in such activity, until they can show that they have gone to the DEC and received the necessary permits,” Duncanson said.

“We want to thank the village board for taking a look at this hard issue and in the end coming up with a set of reasonable regulations,” said Lake Association director Peter George.

“The DEC is understaffed,” said Lake Association President Dennis Collins. “So this speeds up the process a little bit.”

George said that the new regulation won’t add any significant bureaucracy.

“We didn’t want a lot of paperwork,” said George. “We didn’t want some (property) owner that was doing something appropriate to have to go to the DEC and have to go the village. So now they get their permit or whatever is required from the DEC and the village gets a copy of that, so there’s no extra paperwork involved. But if the person doesn’t have the appropriate paperwork, we can issue a stop work and stop it until everyone has a chance to talk about it.”

Duncanson said that the Cassadaga code enforcement officers, Sam Mancuso and Jim DeJoe won’t be patrolling the lake, looking for potential perpetrators.

“Code enforcement is complaint-driven,” Duncanson said. “If you see something going on, you need to step up. They’re not tasked with controlling the lake to see if anything is going on. They’re relying on complaints to begin their enforcement. It’s just a phone call.”

The Lake Association is also working with the town of Pomfret to adopt the same law, so there will be uniform regulation over the entirety of the area’s lake and wetlands.

Prohibited activities “upon any wetlands or within the wetlands buffer” include:

¯ Placement or construction of any structure.

¯ Any form of drainage, dredging, excavation or removal of material.

¯ Any form of dumping, filing or depositing of material.

¯ Installation of any service lines or cable conduits.

¯ Introduction of any form of pollution, including the installation of a septic tank, the running of a sewer outfall or the discharging of sewage treatment effluent.

¯ Alteration or modification of natural features, contours and natural drainage characteristics.

¯ Construction of dams, docks or other water control devices.

¯ Installation of any pipes or wells.

¯ Clear cutting.

¯ Removal or cutting any vegetation except as permitted.

¯ Depositing or introducing of chemicals, including herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, except as permitted.

¯ The grazing and watering of one or more horses or other animals other than those directly producing agricultural products.

To view Local Law No. 1 of the Year 2017, go to:–local–law—–wetlands–2.pdf