Permit OK’d for boatyard

TUPPER LAKE – A new boatyard is coming to Tupper Lake.

During Wednesday night’s planning board meeting, Rob Gillis, a local real estate broker with Gillis Realty, presented the board with plans for the property, which is on state Route 30, across from Lakeview Lanes.

It is the third time Gillis has requested the permit, which would allow him to permanently use the area to store winterized boats, trailers and other recreational vehicles. He is also working with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the state Adirondack Park Agency to get similar permits.

Board members were concerned about the visibility of the storage area from the road and had requested maps from Gillis detailing how natural-looking berms would be used to hide the property. Gillis provided those to the board Wednesday.

Gillis has stored recreational vehicles on the site on an informal basis before. The site would have to be enlarged a bit to make year-round storage possible. Some fill would also be needed, which Gillis said could come from the second phase of the Route 3 and 30 reconstruction downtown.

Two residents had concerns about Gillis’ plans for the property.

Town of Tupper Lake Assessor and town Code Enforcement Officer Paul O’Leary read a letter to the board from neighboring property owner Paige Curtis. Curtis also lives in Sun City Center, Florida.

Curtis wrote that she was pleased to see the board wanted landscaping done, but she didn’t think the board asked enough questions.

Curtis questioned how high the storage building would be, when the berms would be built and how they would be maintained. She noted that natural berms are difficult to maintain, especially considering the weather the location would impose upon them.

“Nothing would give more negative first impressions than dead, unkept shrubbery,” Curtis wrote. “Hopefully Rob would consult a landscape-architecture-nursery person who has good knowledge of creating berms and hardy plants that are best suited to the area.”

Gillis insisted that Curtis has not lived in Tupper Lake for years. Planning board member Bob Collier confirmed that she does own property in Tupper Lake.

Resident Tom Sciacca had a different concern for the boatyard – noise. He asked the board to consider a provision that would prohibit the use of back-up beepers on vehicles used to move boats from the property to the lake.

“I’m very much in favor of the boatyard,” Sciacca said. “I think it’s going to be a good asset for the town. I don’t want to be the bad guy here, but you’ve got other houses nearby that are going to have to hear that noise all of the time.”

Planning board Chairman James Larkin explained that the noise wouldn’t be an issue year-round.

“You have to understand, when they put those boats out, they’re going to take about two weeks to put them in the water, and the same thing when they take them out in the fall,” Larkin said. “It’ll be two weeks and then done. This is not a thing where they’re going to be taking them in and out every day.”

Before approving the permit, planning board members reviewed the plans to install berms around the boatyard.

“I have no problem with the project – Rob understands that – but I do have a problem with it being visible, and I think Rob understands that, too,” said planning board member Jim Merrihew. “I think his intentions, and this is according to the site plans and on what he has said in the past two meetings, is that it will become, in essence, invisible.”

Merrihew reiterated that berms and foliage should be used to hide the boatyard. The board members agreed that a provision should be in place to create a berm covered with local trees and shrubs to block the view from the road. Collier said native evergreens are a must for screening. Flowering shrubs and other decorative plants could also be used.

Gillis said he’d use 3- to 5-foot nursery stock.

Larkin added that the berms had to look good from the street and be maintained, which would include removal of dead plants.

The board said they were satisfied with the provisions, and unanimously approved of the permit for the project.