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Lakeshore docks are nice to have, but they can cause environmental problems for the lake bed, plants and wildlife, and the water quality. New York's DEC, the Town of Mamakating, and the YLPA Board of Directors all have approval authority for lakeshore docks. Please follow these guidelines to keep yourself out of hot water!
So, you want to put in a dock at your lake shore. Before you can do so, there are three organizations whose rules you will need to comply with. The first is compliance with the Mamakating Town Code / Town Ordinances, through the Town’s Building Department. Yes, you will probably need a permit. Just do it. The second hoop to jump through is compliance with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC). Believe it or not, this part is surprisingly easy. The third is approval from the Yankee Lake Preservation Association’s Board of Directors. If you have gone through the first two hoops, there should be no problem with this last step. You’ll then have to cycle back through the Building Inspector’s Office, because they won’t actually issue the permit until the DEC and the YLPA Board of Directors have given their thumbs up.
While the information that follows was correct at the time of this writing, rules may change. It is your responsibility to investigate the rules as they apply to you.
First, there may be special rules based upon what you want to do. So, you need to be prepared to explain in detail to the building inspector's office (they issue the permits) what you are planning. If you are building on the footprint of an old dock, maybe the rules are different. Or, maybe you are not building a "permanent" dock (you remove it at the end of the season). Maybe the rules are different in that case, too. It's your job to find out.
At any rate, if you are starting from scratch, you will probably need a permit to construct the dock. The permit will probably cost you $50. You should be aware that the Town will not issue a permit to you until you have approval from the YLPA Board of Directors to build your dock, but you need to go through all of the Town's steps, short of getting their permit, before you come to us. If you need a waiver, get that before coming to us, too. Once the dock is completed, you need to notify the Building Inspector's office, so they can issue a Certificate of Compliance. Don't skip this step, or you could be fined!
You should take the responsibility to investigate all of the Town's restrictions. Go to the Town of Mamakating Building Inspector's office in Wurtsboro (it is in the Government building next to the G-Mart), tell them what you want to do, and ask them what is required. The code requirement for docks is only a few paragraphs. We suggest that you ask them to photocopy the page(s) for you, so you have it in black and white. If anything in the regulation is unclear to you, ask for clarification. Write down the name of the person who interpreted the regulation for you, in case there is an issue about it later.
One of their requirements is that you have to have at least 40 feet between the right edge of your dock, and the property lines of the neighbors to the right, and 40 feet between the left edge of your dock, and the property lines of the neighbors to the left. Another of their restrictions has to do with width: the dock can be no wider than 10% of the width of your lakeshore. So, if you have 100 (linear) feet of lake shore (based on a survey map of your property), your dock can only be 10 feet wide. There are also rules with regard to "out buildings" like a cabana or lakeshore shower. There may be other restrictions.
Obviously, some properties are not wide enough to comply with the 40 foot rule. The property owner can apply for a waiver. We won't go into detail here regarding what the waiver process is, but if this is the case for you, speak to the Building Inspector's office to find out what you need to do to apply for a waiver. If a waiver is needed, get that approved before coming to the YLPA Board for their approval, or the Board will deny your application.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) has to decide whether or not you need a DEC permit. You won't need one, but you will have to fill out paperwork and get something back from them saying that a permit is not needed.
The main issues for the DEC is not the dock, but the environmental impact on the lake bed and whether your dock will cause an adverse impact on water quality. Specifically, they will want to know whether or not (a) you plan to physically disturb / excavate / fill the lake bottom (your answer must be an honest “no”); (b) you want to put your dock too close to protected wetlands, and (c) your dock will incorporate only DEC-approved materials touching the water.
You need to call (845) 256-3162, the Division of Environmental Permits for Region 3. Yankee Lake is a Class B lake, and is identified by this DEC Water Index Number: D-1-12-8-P21. You may be able to make your inquiry by phone, or they may require you to fill out a Form. It's not difficult, and they turn the results around pretty quickly. But the Town of Mamakating will not issue a permit unless you have something from the DEC saying it's okay.
Finally, how do you get approval from the Board of Directors? First of all, the YLPA has a few rules of its own: No matter what the Town of Mamakating allows, the YLPA restricts docks to no larger than 15 feet wide by 20 feet extended over water. It can be longer than 20 feet, if you are counting both the land-based and water-based part. But, the part extending over water during the summer season cannot be more than 20 feet out from shore.
Our rules also require that you comply with the Town of Mamakating and the DEC requirements. When comparing the Town's restrictions and the YLPA's restrictions, whichever one is the most restrictive is the one you have to comply with. We emphasize that you are not allowed to disturb or change the lake bottom. We basically need to review (a) the DEC's response to your inquiry; (b) Permit application to the Town of Mamakating, and any waivers you may have received (if a permit is not required, you need to explain why not); (c) You need to submit the plans (drawings) for your dock. The drawings need not be elaborate, but you do need to show dimensions, how it will be situated on your property (including distances from your neighbors), how it will be supported (legs, cantilever, etc.), and a list of the (DEC approved!) materials you plan to use.
We would also like to see photos of the existing lake shore where the dock will go, and any requirements to change your shoreline (removal of trees, bushes, other plants), stumps, etc. (The YLPA Rules prohibits the disturbing / changing of the lake bottom, shoreline, stumps, etc. without pre-approval of the DEC and the YLPA Board.) Bear in mind that you are not allowed to create a sand or gravel “beach” at your lakeshore.
The Board meets the second Sunday of each month. So, we'd like to have the documentation in electronic form by around the first of the month that you are requesting the Board's review, so that we have time to review the documents before our meeting. This is usually just a paper exercise, and the Property Owner is not asked to be at the meeting or prepare a presentation or anything. The written result of the Board's review is usually provided to the Property Owner within a week of the Board's meeting.
This process sounds like a lot, and it does take some time. We are not the Town or DEC code enforcers. The reason we require you to comply with these parts of the process is because, (a) it's the law, (b) it's best for the Lake, and (c) if you don't do it right, the Town / DEC can actually force you to rip out your dock, pay fines, etc.