QUEENSBURY — Many people talk about keeping Lake George healthy through responsible development. But one lakeshore family is following through, by replacing all the impermeable walkways on their property with permeable “pavers.”
The homeowner, Leonard Romeo, wants to tear out a backyard patio and a concrete walkway to the shore, at 282 Cleverdale Road. He also wants to remove some plants and replace them with native shrubs. Last week, the Zoning Board approved the plan as long as a waterfront “buffer” of shrubs is included.
The goal is to limit the amount of runoff going into the lake. Runoff can carry pollutants — often road salt and motor oil — directly into Lake George, instead of filtering it through many layers of dirt and rock.
The proposed permeable system is essentially an artificial rock filter. It consists of gravel-like paving blocks with concrete edges. Water can drip through each block to a drain underneath, which connects to the property’s drainage system.
The plan also includes a rain garden, which is a slightly depressed area filled with native plants that allow rainwater to ease into the ground. They replenish groundwater while protecting surface water.
The property is currently not in compliance with the town’s permeability rules. Counting all surfaces, such as the house, deck and garage, 29.5 percent of the property is impervious.
The current limit is 25 percent.
The proposal would change that but would also extend the size of the walkway slightly.
The pavers don’t count as entirely permeable.
“These are pavers. That’s not 100 percent permeable. If it were grass, that’s permeable,” said Zoning Administrator Craig Brown. “It’s not like the Beach Road (in Lake George) that is 100 percent permeable.”
Beach Road was rebuilt with porous asphalt in 2013. The one-mile stretch cost $7.7 million.
The residential pavers are counted as 50 percent permeable. Since there’s more of them than the existing concrete, the change gives the property a new total of 30 percent impermeable.
The Planning Board is expected to vote on the project Tuesday.
In other Planning Board news, the owners of a garage that serves as a storage building for custom cars want to expand the building, which is already violating the town code. The gated and locked property is at 230 Lockhart Mountain Road, and until 2008 it was an automobile repair shop.
When Errol and Lynn Silverberg of Lake George bought the property, workers removed junk vehicles and restored a dilapidated building. But the zoning does not allow a private garage, which already exists on the property. The Silverbergs want to expand the 8,400-square-foot garage by another 2,300 square feet.
The proposal has been tabled six times, by the Planning Board and Zoning Board, since last September.
The Silverbergs bought the property in 2008 and wrote in a Planning Board application that they had improved the neighborhood by cleaning up the site.
“At the point of sale in 2008, the building on the property was dilapidated and the property itself was a junkyard with various automobiles and trailer parts,” Errol Silverberg wrote. “The property was sold to the applicant in 2008 and the entire site was cleaned up and the exterior of the building was completely renovated, leading to a significant upgrade of the property and enhancement of the neighborhood.”
He submitted before-and-after photos to prove his point.
He also noted that residents were accustomed to the property being used as an auto facility and that the garage was a far less intrusive use.
“The project is a gated driveway to a garage that serves as a storage facility for an automotive investor with access by invitation only,” he wrote. “There are no employees on the site. One person checks and maintains the property approximately once per week. Contractors maintain the property and cars as needed.”
The plan needs a special use waiver, but the Zoning Board tabled the request. It will go back to the Planning Board for Tuesday’s meeting.