Niverville water gate quarrel bubbles up again

VALATIE–The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reaffirmed its position that the Kinderhook Lake Corporation may not put up a gate in the water off Rose Street extension, a road allows boat access to the lake.

In the letter, dated September 5, 2017 to the KLC President William Cleary the DEC writes, “Since the subject permit has expired, no further work may occur at the site absent proof noted above and the issuance of a Freshwater Wetland and Protection of Waters permit.”

Tom Puchner, a lawyer representing a group of neighbors on the lake that opposed the gate, presented the Kinderhook Town Board and the Columbia Paper with the letter for DEC at their June 4 meeting.

The Town Board had sent information to the state about the ownership of the Rose Street Extension in Niverville. Town Attorney Andy Howard said at a meeting in 2016 that he confirmed with DEC the board’s stance that the street is a public highway and that the town board would like to keep it that way.

The town maintains the small road.

KLC argued in a letter to the state that the town owns only the road and that KLC, a not-for-profit membership corporation, owns the bed, overflow lands and water rights in and up to the lake. On that basis KLC believed it could build a gate in the water, which the organization started doing four years ago.

In the letter from DEC presented to the Town Board June 4, the state says, “The Kinderhook Lake Corporation, Town of Kinderhook and Concerned Residents have all submitted voluminous information to support their position(s) in this matter. The [DEC] does not have the authority to decide ownership of the parcel, and rights related to blocking access or constructing a gate at this location, and therefore, the position of the department remains unchanged, until definitive proof… can be provided to demonstrate ownership and rights to construct.”

The gate KLC hoped to put up at the boat launch site was to keep larger boats out to avoid invasive species being brought into lake. KLC said members would have keys to unlock the gate.

KLC received a Freshwater Wetlands Permit from the DEC in December of 2014 to put up the gate and put posts in the water to hold the gate. But in May 2015 the lake corporation received a letter from the state saying that the DEC intended to revoke the permit based on information that had been brought to the DEC’s attention.

In the late 1990s KLC has tried to get a permit to put up a gate on the road. In letter from the DEC in 1997, the state said, “The erections of barriers in the water on the bottom lands which are reputedly owned by KLC, would likewise require a DEC permit. But since such barriers would interfere with the right of free passage from a public highway on the lake, we do not find that KLC has the right to undertake this project…. At this point in time, based upon the records before us, we cannot approve KLC’s application.”

No one from KLC was at the Town Board meeting to comment on the most recent letter from DEC. An email to Mr. Cleary from the Columbia Paper was not returned.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email moc.r1542554716epapa1542554716ibmul1542554716oc@el1542554716adsae1542554716te1542554716

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