The day likely will soon come for OCLRA and lake advocates to stand up and be counted on protection of our vital lake shorelands. Revisions to the Oneida County Shoreland Protection Ordinance are now being considered by the Planning and Development Committee. Of most concern, the revision would eliminate the requirement for a Shoreyard Alteration Permit for structures such as stairways, walkways and lifts for access to the shoreline, if located on or over steep slopes or rocky, saturated or unstable soils. In addition, the current draft includes no Shoreyard Alteration Permit requirement to install an access and viewing corridor without the building of a new of a structure – that is, just for landscaping. Because the state regulates the access and viewing corridor and thus the county ordinance must include it, OCLRA believes a permit should be required to remove trees, shrubs and other vegetation to create that corridor.
The Shoreyard Alteration Permit is being incorporated, incompletely, into the building permits for the various structures regulated in the rest of the ordinance. Also deleted are minimum requirements (avoidance of environmentally sensitive areas, protection of native ground cover, erosion controls during grading or excavating, and others) needed to maintain or improve the beauty and environmental stability of the area and the adjoining waters. Procedures for inspections before issuance of a shoreland alteration permit, during construction and after completion are also removed.
These items may appear merely technical; however, it is the opinion of OCLRA representatives, after careful study, that these changes remove important levels of protection for some of the most sensitive sites around our lakes and could open the door to substantial degradation of natural shoreline habitats, lake water quality, and aquatic ecosystem integrity. We believe that without the Shoreyard Alteration Permit as an enforcement tool for the Planning and Zoning Department, enforcement of certain shoreland protections would be almost impossible. OCLRA will provide updates as these proposed changes go through committee deliberations. You can review the proposed changes to the Shoreland Protection Ordinance in detail by downloading the following proposal documents: