Sunday, November 29, 2015

Columbia's secret boat ramp is open to the public

Everyone knows about the public boat ramp at Columbia River Park, but there's another boat ramp - less well known - that's also open to the public. Anyone wishing to use it simply needs to follow Union Street past the intersection with Front Street, then across the railroad tracks and towards the river.

The ramp is a bit unkempt but paved well enough to allow a vehicle and trailer access to the river. According to a representative of the borough's highway department, this lower section of Union Street is public, as is access to the river via the ramp. Potential confusion is created by two PRIVATE PROPERTY signs standing on both sides of the road, several yards past the railroad tracks. The signs, which designate property owners' private tracts may have been strategically placed to discourage traffic on this block of Union - and to the river.

Columbia Spy has also been informed that, under federal law, access to the shoreline is a public right. In other words, you may walk along it, despite property lines, where physically possible. Rivers are subject to federal navigational servitude, including federal navigational easement, as explained HERE and HERE.

The orange line on the map above shows the lower portion of Union Street, including "below" the railroad tracks, as well as the public access to the boat ramp.

Shown above is the lower section of Union Street leading to the river. PRIVATE PROPERTY signs stand on both sides of the road, shown on the extreme right and left edges of the photo.

Here's a closer look at the sign on the left side.

Shown here are potholes further along on this section of Union Street that were filled by borough workers last week.

Further down Union is this stop sign at an inclined section of road leading to the boat ramp.

The boat ramp is in the foreground here. This photo was taken from the shoreline, facing back up towards Union Street.

Here's a view not everyone gets to enjoy. This photo was taken from the boat ramp.

 Last Tuesday, borough workers filled potholes on this section of Union Street.

This small project is a proper use of taxpayer funds, since this section of Union Street is public.

A "side" note:  This driveway, which runs perpendicular to Union Street, and leads roughly southeast, is designated PRIVATE. It terminates at the grounds of the Lancaster Water Company, but there is a private cottage at the side of the road (about in the center of this photo).  It's unclear at this point who owns the road, and whether it is truly private.

89 comments:

  1. One drawback to using this ramp is access to parking. Boaters could possibly park along the 100 block of Union, or even along this lower section of road, considering that it's public.

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  2. It is sad to think that about 10,000 residents have to share a very limited number of riverfront feet, while about 35 families control the rest of what would otherwise be available.

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    1. And only about a dozen of those 35 have primary residences elsewhere in Columbia. Others are from East Hempfield, West Hempfield, Ephrata, etc.

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  3. Everyone down there who think they're entitled to own it should be run off. EVERYONE. They can shove their 'no trespassing' signs you-know-where.

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    1. All of the cottage owners have owned, and maintained these properties for many generations. The land was recently purchased by the cottage owners. The signs are to protect the owners from any liability should anyone get injured or worse yet drown. Some owners have had to confront people who have been using the the docks that they have built and paid for. We bought our properties and pay taxes just like every homeowner in town.

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    2. No docks allowed on the river per say north-fork!!!

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    3. Thats right!! All others had to be taken down!!

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    4. If your docks are in the water, they are no longer on private property.

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    5. Please understand that the families have had to pay safe harbor for years in order to place docks in the water. WE DO NOT OWN THE WATER SAFE HARBOR DOES. if WE are paying to place OUR docks in the water then we should be allowed to tell the public to not use them. Every family has made their dock themselves and Whether its in the water or not it is still a peice of their property

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    6. Hey keyboard lawyers. Just like taxes that everyone else pays the cabin owners pay a yearly fee to LEGALLY have a dock. I wouldn't expect any keyboard warrior to actually know facts before spewing their mindless jealous drivel.

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  4. The borough employees should have removed the no trespassing signs on this section of Union Street. I guess it is okay for me to post no trespassing on each end of the street I live on and expect drivers to obey them! The people who own these cottages need to stop thinking this is their private, tax payer funded, resort!

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  5. The cottage owners pay both school & borough tax just likw every other property owner in this town. so b4 u speak check your facts it is not a tax payer funded resort

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    1. When are you going to put your sewer pipes in??

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    2. Stop putting chit in the river!!

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    3. I think that person's point is the road is public and repairs and maintenance are funded by all taxpayers, making it public property.

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    4. What about septic? Everyone else in town has to have public sewer.

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    5. They'll have to hook up to LASA. Wonder if the borough will help out. Better not. We'll be watching.

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    6. FACT CHECK: Tax money is being used to repair the road. Some property owners are placing signs along said road to keep people out. Sounds to me like a tax payer funded issue!

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    7. Were they paying taxes to the Borough during all the years that they were leasing it?

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    8. Yes the cottage owners have always paid taxes to the borough and to the school district and why don't they have sewers because they have not run sewer lines down there yet when they do they will have to hook up and the borough will not be putting any money into it the owners will pay for it so why don't you all back off the cottage owners they paid for the land it is theris those cottages have been there for years so why the big fus now?

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    9. Yes taxes were paid before taking ownership.

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    10. Should have been voted on "THE LAND" by tax payers at the beginning!!!!

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    11. My understanding was that taxes were only paid on the land, NOT the improvements on the land when Safe Harbor was the landlord. So I STILL question the assessed value the property owners are paying tax on.

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    12. Safe harbor paid the land tax the owners or renters paid the improvements tax now the owners pay all the taxes

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    13. I am sick of hearing about the horrible people at the river. I know cabins sold within the last 15 years. where were you when they were for sale. you could have purchased one yourself. The cabin owners spend a lot of time and money to keep those properties. It's not being entitled it's taking advantage of an opportunity and paying for it not expecting the taxpayers to pay for it. You people expect Colombia taxes to put something down there for you not do anything for yourself.

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    14. As far as the cottages being passed down thru generations. Who are you that you think you can dictate who any homeowner can or cannot gift or sell their property to. If Mrs. Jones in the 600 block wants to give their home or sell their home to their children or even a friend no one has any say in that matter.

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  6. The cottages are called private property toy self entitled Jack wagons. It's no different than then moaning and crying because they can't walk through your yard!!! Everyone had equal opportunity to purchase a place down there over the years. If you chose to blow your money on other junk you are NOT entitled to someone else's PRIVATE PROPERTY!!! The owners have to post signs because half the town thinks they're entitled to everyone else's stuff!!! These are private houses just like the houses all the whiners on here have. How about you post your address and let us use your property for our own recreation. Typical section 8 , mooching of other hard workers efforts mentality that's rampant today.

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    1. You best learn the laws, the shoreline IS public property. Not sure of it's 10 feet or more. Maybe the borough should build a river walk all the way from River Park to the Highway shed.

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    2. NO, everyone did NOT have equal opportunity over the years to purchase a place down there, that is a lie. They have been passed down through generations and/or sold to friends. This does not compute, there are only a few dozen cottages and there are thousands of homeowners. One was for sale in recent months, with a price tag of about 389,000. dollars. Now as for the signs, I have owned five homes, in all areas of Columbia, and NEVER had to post a no trespassing sign and never had problems. THANKFULLY, I have not ever needed section 8 housing. The signs at the entrance areas where cottages are located are absolutely there to intimidate the public into believing it's all private.

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    3. Maybe some day a developer will get all that riverfront land through eminent domain. And before anybody types out a reply, please review Kelo v. City of New London.

      It can be done.

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    4. Just checked. Thanks. That's interesting. Another 5-4 decision by our inimitable Supreme Court:
      "Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another private owner to further economic development."

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    5. It's a landmark case, in my opinion. Don't know if it ever achieved that status officially, though.

      Another landmark case was Gibbons v. Ogden. That's useful for when people scream that the town should force the railroad to do this or that....

      Not happening.

      --FMB

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    6. Because the federal government has control, that's exactly why the people must speak up.

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    7. Right, the railroad enjoys broad powers because the federal government controls interstate commerce:
      "The Supreme Court extended the definition of interstate commerce and cemented the power of the federal government over the states when laws conflicted."

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    8. Actually everyone DID have a chance!!! I know countless places down there that went up for sale and were bought outside of the family. But guess what SO WHAT IF THEY WERE HANDED DOWN!!! Should someone busy your stones for leaving your house to your kids. Gimme gimme gimme...would expect nothing else from entitled residents.

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    9. No one cares about the cottages, the point is public access to borough streets. Time to reassess riverfront cottages.

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    10. Just look at what happened over at Lauxmont/High Point if you want to see what Eminent Domain can be used for.

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  7. The focus of the article is public access not cottages or cottage owners.

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    1. What a simple "retraction"after all the chit you started.Congrats!

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    2. I'm not responsible for people's reactions.

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    3. Was there a retraction? I cannot find it. Another example of the old boy network in action, all is fine as long as its kept quiet and no one asks questions.

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  8. I checked the Lancaster County GIS site. Union Street to the river and the road that runs through the cottages, known as Riverfront, are not included within the parcels (property lots) and therefore is a public road. They would be public roads as they are not included in the taxable property parcels, much like the street in front of your home. The side road that runs to the Lancaster Water Plant does appear to be a private drive as it runs through several parcels. The borough should have those "private drive" signs removed, with the exception of the drive that leads to the water plant.

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  9. Prior to the formation of the Heritage Cottage Group, a non profit organization, the land was owned by Safe Harbor and was leased to the cottage owners. If you purchased the cottage, you only owned the structure and not the land beneath your foundation. No bank would be willing to fund a structure without the land being part of the transaction, so financing would have to be personal or group funding.

    As for the LASA question on the cottages. They would have to invest in a pumping station with grinder pumps to facilitate this low graded land. This would cost LASA a fortune for a group of twenty plus cottages sitting on this land.

    The only dedicated thoroughfare would be Locust Street (now closed) and Union Street. All owners do pay taxes to Columbia Borough and have invested in their properties since this transaction has taken place. So in the future when one of the cottages come up for sale, make sure you put a bid in.

    Columbia Pride!

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    1. It was discussed at a recent borough meeting that a line might be run along Heritage Drive, but the question is who would pay for the excavation and installation - LASA or the borough.

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    2. Oh it best NOT be the borough. Tax money is not to be used to pay for home owners utilities.

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    3. I will not live long enough to wait for one of the cottages to go on the market. I'm not sure if the lone one that was for sale recently ever actually sold at the asking price, but for 389 thousand dollars one has to wonder what kind of sewer system you would get.

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    4. There will be no openings in this private club, no bids, and no diversity. It is what it is and will always be.

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    5. LASA will be knocking on your cottage door very soon!!

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    6. Hmmmm....you mean that the owners will treat their properties like every other land owner in the town who has kids and actually leave it to them? Gasp...shocking. How dare someone who busted their ass for something nice actually treat it well. Continue on with your entitled jealousy.

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  10. Are they properly assessed then? And paying their fair share of tax? I just noticed a home down there under construction, becoming a 3 story.

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    1. I didn't dare walk down there by myself to see if there was a permit.

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    2. Permits are for polebarns!

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    3. Yes, the pole barn hearing was only a year ago.

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    4. The comment that states " I didn't dare walk down there by myself"...this is exactly what they are doing INTIMIDATING!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    5. I wonder what the commenter was afraid of.

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    6. Some of us have more passive personalities. I wouldn't know what to do if I walked down there myself and was verbally attacked or physically assaulted by a cottage owner.

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    7. Let's hope that wouldn't happen, because if it did, it would be considered assault.

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    8. Well those people down there seem to be connected to the local politics and being by myself, I would not have a witness either.

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    9. That 3 story under construction belongs to a close friend of mine. He and his neighbor(who is a carpenter/contractor so dont worry) are renovating that with their own money and supplies. If they own the land and the building then it'd be no different than making a tool shed in your backyard.

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    10. The only time cottage OWNERS say anything is when people feel entitled and use their PRIVATE property as if they worked for and own it which they don't!!

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    11. All proper engineering, permits and inspections were applied for, attained and signed off on as a part of due process during this project. Unfortunately, something that can not be said for the majority of renovation and repair projects elsewhere in the borough. At least this person/persons did the correct thing. In addition, I have seen the project and it is a 2 story, not a 3 story as mentioned earlier.

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    12. To the friend of the 3 story, a shed on my property would not be taxed. If this improvement is taxed, there must be a permit for the work being done!! Learn the local ordinances.

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  11. The borough needs to update and publish a complete map and mail it to every household.

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    1. That would be informative; therefore, it won't happen.

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  12. Imagine if there were shops where the cottages are located. Visitors walking through and stopping to get coffee and maybe even purchase a kayak. It would be such a cool draw. Columbia and its PRIDE, too selfish.

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    1. Right, the isolationist mindset must go. We can no longer afford it.

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    2. Imagine if there were shops where YOUR home is located....Visitors walking and stopping to get coffee and maybe even purchase a Kayak. That would be such a cool draw ain't??? Wouldn't you be selfish too after what you worked hard and paid for? When you work 6 six days a week and have one day to mow your yard ..and you can't mow it all because people think they can park their truck and boat trailer in your yard. Let me come park in your yard and see how you like it!

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  13. What is the matter with the people in this town making such a issue about those cottages they have been there for years and will be there for many more years to come why don't you all find better things to do and worry about more important things that go on in town and not those cottages those people also have the right to sell who they want to or keep it in the family because you have the right to sell your house to every you want to or give it to a family member

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    1. ^ found a cottage owner.

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    2. As am I. And I agree with him. We have had the same opportunities as any homeowner in town. Simply because we live in a different location does not mean we have some sort of advantage over anyone. I will agree though that some of the trespassing signs can be confusing

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  14. Everyone here speaking against cottage owners themselves are a bunch of ignorant, uneducated dipwads that don't know what they're talking about. Those cottages have been in the owner's families for generations upon generations. It doesn't matter where your permanent residence is or anything like that. If you don't like it, blow it out your a**

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  15. How dare you Cole!? Discussing public roads, shame on you. You should know better by now. Columbia's motto is "Don't ask, don't tell."

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  16. Cottage owners have ALWAYS paid taxes both Boro and school, although the landlord Safe Harbor paid the land portion of them because they only leased the improvements. NOW however it's a different day. Everything is legal. The cottage owners own the land and the improvements! The cottage owners pay ALL Boro and school taxes on their cottage PLUS THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO PERMIT ALL THE DOCKS YEARLY. Oh and don't forget the MILLION DOLLAR LIABILILTY INSURANCE TOO...the front road-Riverfront Drive IS PRIVATE PROPERTY AND ALWAYS WILL BE. The Cottage owners MUST maintain it-plow it, fill pot holes, etc. NO MONEY COMES FROM THE BORO REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU IDIOTS THINK. Cole, your a piece of work. Why in Gods name would you ever start all this nonsense now??????? Columbia IS making a slight comeback, there are new businesses, we have awesome people who believe in this Boro and who are investing blood sweat tears and MONEY! to improve it. YOU ARE part of the problem. yOU KNEW FULL WELL THAT THIS WOULD BE THE RESULT AND YOU DID IT ANYWAY. Shame on you. You've lost my respect. Be honest. Remember KARMA is a real bitch. Maybe she'll decide she wants your house and property by eminent domain. You people are unbelieveable. Get a job. Purchase a vacation or 2nd home yourself. Do all the HARD labor for 35 or 55 years. Really. THERE WERE PUBLIC MTGS ON ALL THIS YEARS AGO. AND the cottage owners were negotiating with their landlord for about 6 or 7 years to purchase it all. STOP SPREADING LIES AND FALSE INFO. If you don't know the story .....DON'T TELL IT.

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    1. In Columbia, it's pay your taxes and shut up. Do not question anything. No respect lost here, I admire your courage taking all the crap about the cottages when it's about the roads. Some cannot read and twist what they are able to read. Just as this prior comment says: Don't tell it! That's what they want, don't tell it. Keep it all quiet.

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  17. I think the discussion of public property and public roads is fine. It is when the lines get blurred and some can not keep to the topic that is a problem. Discussing why Union St has "No Trespassing" signs is no different than if someone on Chestnut were to post the same signage. As mentioned here numerous times now, the owners of the cottages and the land they sit upon are absolutely no different than owners of homes and the land they sit upon elsewhere in the boro, just a matter of geography. I can't imagine the people posting the negative comments regarding the cottages/owners would be open and receptive to having just anyone walk through their private yard??? I very much doubt that would happen.

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    1. I owned a home on Chestnut Street and never had to post a no trespassing sign and no one ever walked through the yard uninvited. Decades of home ownership with no signs.

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    2. I agree with you and have never had to post a sign on my home on Walnut Street either. The difference is location. Most people see and realize the boundaries and property lines of residential establishments throughout town and continue on normally, but when it comes to the river cottages, people seem to think the same rules do not apply there. Just as we both would not want to be liable for someone's misdeeds or accident on our property in town, the cottage owners do not want to be liable for the same reasons on their property. It's just common sense and protection of what is someone's legally owned property, not a territorial or exclusive "club" thing at all. I'm most sure that if you own a vacation home or second property somewhere else, you would feel the same. Maybe I'm wrong and you have a property somewhere else and have no problem with the public picnicking, parking, recreating on your property? If so, I apologize.

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  18. Do you clowns PAY to insure and maintain all this???? NO. You all don't have a clue.

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  19. you know the Boro bought 8 acres from Norfolk Southern couple years ago...for next to nothing...they can put in a "boardwalk" AND little shops. And keep the natural beauty!!!! I too am disappointed in this nonsense.

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  20. Why are these people disproportionately defensive over a question of roadway access? It is public, why not admit that and move on? There is a reason why there is so much defensive feedback. They do not want it public.

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  21. Time to put a end to all this talk and move on to something else there must be something better to talk about it is getting old leave the cottage owners alone it is the season for love and joy not all this mean talk God bless us all.

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    1. The mean talk appears to be coming from those defending the cottage owners. Maybe they need to stop. After all it's not all about them.

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  22. this entire post is absolute nonsense and does absolutely NOTHING to encourage kindness and getting along...nor does it help attract more persons willing to invest in this Boro. You ALL should be ashamed and especially you for posting it, knowing it would indeed cause an uproar. Maybe you WANT the residents to be at odds and stay at odds at all costs.

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    1. First rule of cottage club....

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    2. Its all for who you are, we all know that! Sometimes things have to be said that people don't like!

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  23. The cottage owners did not start the mean talk!!!!!!

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  24. Everything on this topic that needed to be said has been said. Many things that didn't need to be said were said, also. Off-topic comments - full of straw men and red herrings - went far afield to divert and deflect from the main point – that of public access.

    Commenters frequently submitted irrelevant and illogical arguments, but certain facts have now been established:

    The first block of Union Street, the boat ramp, the shoreline are public.

    “Private Property” and “No Trespassing” signs were posted in some of these areas, thereby creating confusion, whether intentionally or inadvertently.

    Comments on this site for this post are now disabled.

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