BP's Tatics in Cape Vincent Ny

Friday, March 27, 2015


March 25, 2015
“United we stand, divided we fall”.  This phrase was popularized in modern times by Founding Father John Dickinson when he composed “The Liberty Song”.  In 1768 he wrote: “Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all:  By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!”   The phrase has been used extensively throughout our history and it is worth reflecting on today as some of our waterfront communities are considering the benefits of a SASS designation.
SASS stands for Scenic Area of Statewide Significance, and is part of the NYS Coastal Management Program; there are currently only two such designated areas in New York - portions of the Hudson River Valley, and the village and town of East Hampton, Long Island.  
The Thousand Islands is without a doubt, one of the most scenic and beautiful regions within the state and it is surely worthy and deserving of a SASS designation. In a unique and unprecedented display of cooperation, ten river communities have worked diligently the last couple of years, in partnership, to explore getting a SASS designation for their communities and the region.
People should know that last year an outside consultant and media expert was brought in to our region by a few powerful families for the express purpose of killing SASS. The consultant is an expert at manipulating public opinion by using fear, uncertainty, and doubt to make things happen or not happen.  These powerful interests have employed both a selective media campaign and aggressive lobbying effort to pick off many River front communities one by one as they have gotten them to withdraw from the SASS effort.
It is important for people to understand what SASS is or isn’t. The purpose of SASS is to identify, evaluate, and preserve specific areas of scenic value within a region or designated area. SASS does not require any new or additional permits or licenses, nor does it impose any new regulations on development.  It works within existing regulations in that, if a permit is required under State or Federal rules, then there is an additional step in the evaluation process that asks the appropriate permitting authority to comment on any impact that the request may have on the shoreline area viewshed.  
The shoreline areas are the only areas of concern under SASS. There are no other impacts on the balance of a town.  This means that there are no mandated controls, regulations or modifications to existing town laws.  SASS can issue an opinion about the impact of a project on scenic views, but it does not approve or disapprove any projects, as it has no regulatory power or authority.  
A review of the facts shows that between 2000 and 2014 there were 1917 applications that required evaluation within the SASS designated area on the Hudson River. Of these, 23 were considered for review and only 4 of these were found to have a significant issue relative to impact on the view shed.  That is less the 0.2% of the applications.  This is a very small number and substantiates the point that very few development projects have been adversely affected by SASS.
Cape Vincent and Clayton are fortunate in that they have dealt with the Department of State (DOS) under the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) for many, many years and they know how to deal with LWRP requirements.  Since the DOS policies for a scenic review are the same under both SASS and LWRP, there is not a new learning curve and no additional review would be required.
If Cape Vincent and Clayton continue to work together to achieve a SASS there is a high probability that it will be granted. A SASS designation for these communities is not only consistent with their comprehensive plans, but will also serve as a driver for economic development by encouraging more tourism.
We have been entrusted with the awesome responsibility of protecting the unique character and benefits that Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River bring to our towns.  We have an obligation and a responsibility to our children and future generations to do our best to not make decisions that will have an adverse effect on our Towns and on the Thousand Islands region.
By standing together Cape Vincent and Clayton can be the nucleus to do what is right for its citizens and the region as a whole.  And perhaps some of the other communities that have opted out of SASS, will reconsider and opt back in when they see the benefits that SASS can bring to the Thousand Islands.
Please remember -  “United we stand, divided we fall.”
Michael J. Comerford
Cape Vincent


Anonymous said...

Mike, the Cape and Clayton have a different history dealing with the Department of State than downriver communities. They have had local waterfront revitalization plans in place since the 1980s. They have received support (grants etc) and can weigh these positives against the supposed heavy hand of state government. Let the downriver chicken-littles crying fowl continue to flounder in the past. The Cape and Clayton should support SASS as they have their waterfront plans. Great letter!

Anonymous said...

Excellent explanations in this letter!

I still think there has to be a hidden agenda on the part of those who oppose SASS because i cannot find a single specific reason stated anywhere to oppose it, just a lot of fear mongering about vague and general suspicions.

I really think some people are opposed to SASS because they see who supports it. SASS would offer the greatest protection to those who are heavily invested in the beauty of the river. Sadly, we have learned in recent years that there is deep resentment aimed at those who live along the river's edge.

Anonymous said...

One wonders if the river edge folks who pay the lion's share of taxes for these dying towns where SASS is being rejected should just revolt and join to form their own league leaving the idiots to fend for them selves. Great Letter Mike!
it should be sent around to other papers that seem to be happy publishing the trash from the anti-folks and passing it off as news and "investigative" reporting.

Anonymous said...

Great letter. Well said. Too bad other towns said no. This project was meant to unite the river communities. First time I have ever seen reps from towns together in a meeting. Sad. Down river could have ridden the coat tails of the more enlightened. Clayton and Cape Vincent leadership use a process of doing what is right for the entire community as opposed to listening to the last loudest and paranoid voice screaming in your face.

Anonymous said...

I am hoping Clayton shows the kind of leadership on this issue that we have seen from them in the past. Clayton is clearly the leader in the Thousand Islands and I would not be surprised they embrace SASS while others like Alexandria, Alexandria Bay, Orleans, Hammond and Morristown are content to languish in the past. I know some in those other towns are jealous as hell for Clayton's success, but guess what, Clayton will continue to move further and further ahead. Those elected leaders of the other towns who opted out should be asking should we be on the boat leaving the dock in Clayton? They should be following the lead of those who have a handle on planning their future, not sitting on the dock waving goodbye.