North Elba holds hearing on Placid lakeshore septic tanks

LAKE PLACID — The North Elba Town Council held a public hearing Tuesday night regarding a proposed local law that would make septic tank inspections necessary for properties next to Lake Placid lake.

The hearing has been left open for public comment for the next 30 days.

Town Supervisor Roby Politi said the proposed law is a matter of health and safety because the lake is not only used for recreation; it’s also the town’s drinking water reservoir.

The proposed law says damaged septic tanks are “more likely to be a threat to public health with particularly acute impacts upon the general public through impairing and contaminating precious ecological resources of the Town of North Elba and rendering drinking water unsafe.”

The town code enforcement officer would inspect septic tanks at full-time residences every three years and part-time residences every five years. Property owners would have to pay for the inspections unless they can provide evidence that a licensed practitioner cleaned and inspected their tanks recently.

The law also would establish minimum standards for proper ownership of a septic tank, such as tanks being equipped with high-level alarms. A copy of a tank’s pump-out records is to be submitted before inspection.

If a tank does not meet inspection, then the property owner would be issued a violation, punishable by a fine not exceeding $950 or imprisonment no longer than 15 days.

If the law is approved, Politi said it should be ready to take effect around February.

A few members of the Shore Owners Association of Lake Placid showed up to provide comment and support the proposed law.

“There have been times in the past when you could smell something, and it wasn’t a pleasant smell,” Marty Shubert said. “We’re grateful you’re doing this. It’s needed.”

North Elba Code Enforcement Officer Mike Orticelle asked, why not make this proposed law address homes and properties with septic tanks next to other water bodies, such as Mirror Lake? Politi said the council can consider that in the future, but right now it would like to focus on fixing issues related to the town’s reservoir and drinking water.