Will boathouse have to be torn down?

A man who built a boathouse on Lake Placid in defiance of the local code-enforcement officer could be forced to tear it down.

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that William Grimditch should have obtained a permit from the town of North Elba before building the boathouse in 2010.

Grimditch was rushing to build the boathouse before stricter boathouse regulations adopted by the Adirondack Park Agency went into effect. His children built a smaller boathouse on adjoining property, also without a town permit.

Last August, State Supreme Court Justice Richard Meyer ruled that the Grimditches did not need a town permit, reasoning that localities had no jurisdiction over the state’s navigable waterways. He dismissed a lawsuit brought by the town and four Grimditch neighbors.

The appellate court, however, said the state’s interest in navigable waterways does not preclude localities from controlling shoreline development. It sent the case back to Meyer for reconsideration.

Mark Wilson, president of the Shore Owners Association, said he hopes the town eventually will force the Grimditches to tear down the boathouses.

“We feel any other remedy would send a message that anybody can go ahead and build a boathouse and then negotiate a remedy. Ask forgiveness instead of permission—we would not like to see that precedent,” Wilson said.

Wilson said a decision in favor of the Grimditches would have been “a disaster” for Adirondack lakes as it would have left localities powerless to control shoreline development.

It could not be learned whether Grimditch plans to appeal to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

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