QUEENSBURY — The man who built a garage bigger than a house in the Adirondacks and was forced to take it down has been given some small hope for the future of his building.
Hal Halliday removed his 3,600-square-foot boathouse from wetlands in Fort Ann and piled the pieces in his backyard in Queensbury. He asked to reconstruct it there, but the Lake George Park Commission said no.
On appeal, an administrative law judge held a hearing on the case and said he should be allowed to build it. The judge said the building — located in Halliday’s backyard and shielded by many trees — wouldn’t hurt anyone despite its size.
“No sufficient proof was presented that the proposed project will have an undue impact upon the health, safety or welfare of the public or the resources of the park, leading to overcrowding or congestion, or cause undue visual, cultural or audible impacts on the neighborhood or the park,” Administrative Law Judge Molly McBride wrote.
The judge also dismissed complaints from Frank Munoff, who lives across the street and said he would be able to see part of the building in the winter. Munoff called it an eyesore and also objected to the idea of Halliday “getting away” with keeping the building that was placed illegally in Fort Ann.
The judge noted that there are two other, much larger marinas nearby.
“Several neighbors voiced no objection,” the judge wrote. “The Munoffs’ objection has not shown an undue impact as the proposed site is located in an area that has a mix of residential and commercial properties.”
The report is not the final decision. The Lake George Park Commission is scheduled to vote on it at its monthly meeting Tuesday.
Technically, the commission does not have jurisdiction in Halliday’s backyard, which does not overlook the lake. If he wanted to build an ordinary garage, the town would handle the request. But the building is three times the size allowed by the town. The only way around that rule was for Halliday to declare the building a commercial marina. Then the town said OK — but the commission has final authority over all marinas, even ones that aren’t connected to the lake.
Commissioners called the initial application a “subterfuge,” saying Halliday really just wanted the big building for personal use.
There are some indications the commission might allow the building now.
“Mr. Halliday and his agent provided a considerable amount more information than he did to us with the application,” said Executive Director Dave Wick. “He has kind of modified what he says he’s willing to do.”
He has also resolved the issues with building on wetlands. He removed the building and foundation and restored the wetlands.
“APA and Park Commission staff went out there and found the remediation satisfactory,” Wick said.