Highland Lakes

Country Club and Community Association

Main Lake Lowering Postponed until September 2017

NJDEP Permits, Club Projects, and Notifications to Lakefront Owners and Boating Community Involved in Decision

The Voting Board, during its Workshop meeting on August 15, accepted the recommendation to delay lowering of the Main Lake until September 2017. Factors affecting this decision included:

  1. new regulations issued by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) affected not only work the Club had planned but work needed by lakefront owners to repair deteriorating bulkheads;
  2. these new regulations, issued June 20, delayed a meeting between Club representatives and NJDEP representatives from the Freshwater Wetlands and Flood Hazard Control Area units until August 16;
  3. while more latitude for minor work on lands adjacent to the lake was provided in these new regulations, work planned by the Club to stabilize and expand roadway embankments along Island Road and Island Drive needed to be discussed in depth with NJDEP, leading to the delay in identifying potential contractors, delivery of permit applications, etc. Replacement of the culverts in the roadways, though, does not present a challenge;
  4. the Boat Dock committee has identified relocation of the boat launch area currently adjacent to Beach 2 to the area immediately north of the swim lanes at the park. This project that provides for the construction of a new launch area unaffected by the migration of sand from the beach, and separating traffic from pedestrians especially children, needs to be reviewed with the Voting Board, and funds need to be appropriated to retain a design engineer and identify contractors;
  5. discussions took place with members of the Highland Lakes Fire Department who expressed an interest in installing “dry hydrants” in two locations along the water’s edge. These hydrants provide for easy access to water throughout the year, especially during those times in the fall and spring when the thickness of the lake’s ice makes it dangerous for Department volunteers to break through the ice. NJDEP permits are required, though and funding sources need to be identified;
  6. a handbook for lakefront owners prepared by the Club’s environmental consultants, Princeton Hydro, LLC, was unable to be finalized due to the revisions of NJDEP regulations in June and the delay in coordinating a meeting between the Club and NJDEP. Now that the NJDEP meeting has taken place, the handbook will be finalized and available late in September, and all of NJDEP’s and Highland Lakes’ requirements for repair or reconstruction of existing bulkheads will be explained in detail. There will also be a meeting with interested lakefront owners and other community members to discuss and plan for the drawdown;
  7. discussions with NJDEP also involved limited dredging of accumulated debris in the northeast cove where Lakeside Drive East meets Glen Road. Voting Board approval will be needed before the dredging permit is developed and submitted;
  8. based on regulations of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, lake drawdowns in this region before September 15 will be permitted only in the event of an emergency or for a dam rehabilitation project when no other alternative exists. The permit requires that the lake be lowered not more than three feet, that downstream flows be maintained at all times, and that the lake be in a refill position on January 1. Providing notice at this late stage to lakefront owners that their floating docks and swim floats need to be removed by September 15 would, simply speaking, be unfair;
  9. similarly, members with boats on the Main Lake who are not lakefront owners store their boats at docks provided by the Club. Insufficient time exists for these boaters to make arrangements for their boats to be removed by September 15 – otherwise the water level may be too low once the drawdown commenced to safely remove boats, especially the larger ones.
  10. Club Maintenance personnel need sufficient time to safely remove and store docks during the drawdown period, and this requires that all boats be removed by September 15.

Delaying the drawdown until September 2017 provides sufficient time for planning that adequately addresses the Club’s projects, provides lakefront owners with sufficient time to schedule their projects and to arrange for contractors and for removal of their docks and floats, and for the boating community at large to make arrangements to get their boats off Club docks and out of the lake by September 15. Further updates will be provided as they become available.

Jack McLaughlin, General Manager

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