Snow and ice will soon blanket Lake Champlain, but when spring and summer arrive, some lakeshore property owners will again experience the problem of deteriorating lake conditions. The real problem, however, is a frozen local government that will not respond to the obvious environmental changes that are altering Maquam Bay in Swanton.

 Other towns, like St. Albans and Georgia, have proactively addressed the concerns of homeowners under similar conditions, either by lowering land valuations or implementing remedial efforts to reduce the impact of lakeshore changes. We have asked the Town of Swanton repeatedly to consider similar actions since last July, but such discussions have not been put on public meeting agendas. At this time of year, the Town is building its proposed budget for the coming year. The Selectboard did not allocate funds to replicate steps taken by St. Albans to improve the town’s bay. A small study grant announced by the Friends of Northern Lake Champlain recently is welcomed---but it will not produce results for at least another year---so we on Maquam Shore see little hope of timely relief for our long-standing concerns. 

Two months ago, 11 homeowners sent a letter to the Town of Swanton Selectboard, urging them to ask the Town’s Listers to reduce land valuations in consideration of the reduced quality of the lake conditions for several properties along northern Maquam Shore. This has been gradually worsening over the past decade. The receding lake, more extreme in recent years, is causing widespread accumulation of muck from decayed plants, an increased impact of phosphorus on vegetation, and a pervasive smell so bad we have to stay indoors on some summer days. Our small area of the lake no longer has premium conditions, yet we continue to pay premium land taxes relative to comparably sized parcels in Town not fronting the lakeshore. Our October 27th letter received no reply. 

With the onset of winter, we on Maquam Shore fear that our plea for help will be buried in the coming snow. It’s time for local, state and environmental groups to realize that lack of local government action will reveal itself again in the spring, and that the problems we live with will have grown worse with neglect. 


Al Norman & Anna Morrison
8 Maquam Shore Road

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