SPARTA, NJ – The Seneca Lake community had a small victory at the Byram Planning Board meeting in their fight to halt Tomahawk Lake from expanding.  Fred Welles, the secretary of Seneca Lake club said the planning board voted to require part of the Tomahawk Lake expansion project receive a D variance from the zoning board.

Welles said they hired an attorney and a professional planner to help in their efforts to stop Tomahawk Lake from adding two more water slides, an auxiliary building and expanding their parking lot.

Roger Thomas of Dolan and Dolan is the attorney representing the Seneca Lake club.  Ken Nelson is the Professional Planner on their team. 

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At the planning board meeting on September 5, the members voted to have part of the proposed expansion project go to the zoning board for a D variance.  Welles said that was in response to their argument that the use of the land had changed from it’s initial use as a “swim club.”

Welles said over the years the use of the three lots that comprise Tomahawk Lake has changed with additions of slides and buildings but this most recent expansion is a “tipping point.”  The residents of Seneca Lake have been joined by Byram residents who do not like the traffic that backs up into their neighborhood and the noise and disruptive behavior of people going to and from Tomahawk Lake, according to Welles.

Welles said the D variance is a “more difficult approval process and requires more yes votes” to approve and does take into account the complaints about nuisances and the potential for additional nuisance behavior.

He said the offers by the Wallace family, proprietors of Tomahawk Lake, to open gates earlier, move ticket booths and have two lanes, in effort to reduce the back up of traffic in the neighborhoods are irrelevant to their case.

Welles said they are arguing the use of the property is non-conforming and should not be approved by the zoning board.

Bill Askin, attorney representing the Wallace family and Tomahawk Lake said they are going to apply for two C variances with the Planning Board and one D variance at the Zoning Board but would not comment beyond that.

Askin said one of the C variances is for a proposed gift shop of 1440 square feet which is larger than the allowed 500 square foot building.  The second is for a height variance; the proposed building is 21 feet six and a half inches, more than the 15 feet allowed.

The D variance is for the two additional slides and expanding the parking lot, according to Welles.

“We have not filed any applications yet,” Askin said.

Welles said he anticipates the issue to be on the November 7 Byram Zoning Board.

The Senaca Lake club has set up a gofundme page to collect donations to offset the costs of the attorney and professional planner.

The gofundme page lists the lewd behavior of Tomahawk Lake visitors:

  • Public urination
  • Consumption of alcohol while in vehicles and public intoxication
  • Littering of trash, paper and beer bottles,
  • Loud noise from people screaming from one car to another,
  • Loud music playing from open windows,
  • Honking horns from aggressive drivers,
  • Parking on our streets,
  • Speeding,
  • Gridlock preventing emergency vehicles from getting to home

"We still need support to cover the cost of the attorney and professional planner," Welles said.