The Adirondack Park Agency will not be meeting this week, “due to no agenda items that require board action,” according to its website. I do have some update to share with you about how the APA is running its public comments and hearings page.
Upon glancing at the APA’s website this morning, I do see that the agency will be holding a virtual training for commissioners on shoreline setbacks, which the public is invited to watch on WebEx. Got to the APA’s homepage for more info: https://apa.ny.gov/.
Under Gov. Kathy Hochul’s calls for more government transparency, the APA had been issuing regular press releases for new public comment periods and public hearings. That stopped in June. I am told it will restart again soon. Public Information Officer Keith McKeever noted that neighbors and municipalities are alerted of projects.
McKeever also told me that variance hearings once posted on the APA’s homepage during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic will now be embedded in the public comment period page under the link for the specific project. For example, a variance hearing on a project with a public comment period that went through a date in November had a public hearing on Oct. 4. I happened to hop on to the public hearing after McKeever mentioned it in an email and was the only member of the public to attend. It was for a shoreline setback variance for a house on Hadlock Pond in Fort Ann. McKeever said notice of the public hearing was published in local newspapers and neighbors were alerted.
The APA is also planning to include more information for the public to review in these comment pages. Currently the APA includes a sentence or two about a project proposal and a contact sheet for comment submissions. To get more information on projects, I file freedom of information law requests with the APA to read the full application and to see if any comments have been submitted. This is a reminder that anyone can file freedom of information law requests to see public records and the APA’s specific email for this is email@example.com. At some point, we will hopefully see it directly on the website under the public comment section.
In case you missed it, last week I took a short trip to the Wiawaka Center for Women on Lake George. The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced several new forest conservation easement grants including $350,000 to the Lake George Land Conservancy. The conservancy will use that funding to protect about 47 acres of forestland at the Wiawaka Center. These grants are new and part of the state’s effort to protect forests and their roles in carbon sequestration. You can read more on that here.
Did anyone get out and enjoy the changing leaves this past weekend? Did anyone try the foliage shuttle? Dave and I headed to the Keene area and hiked Owl Head Lookout. We drove through Elizabethtown, and there were very few cars on the road. The trailhead parking lot was just about full when we arrived around 9 a.m. I was worried we would be too late for a spot, but we made it. By the time we got back from our hike, however, vehicles lined the trailhead driveway and Route 9N. Hurricane Mountain’s trailheads were overflowing with vehicles, as were trailheads along Route 73. I posted a video of some of the parking situations and it generated some discussion about visitor use.
We really enjoyed the hike up Owl Head Lookout. It was about 5 miles round trip and ambled along a stream with a couple of foot bridges. It was not a very steep hike until the last 0.25 miles or so. We saw some other folks enjoying the views, but there were several minutes we had the summit to ourselves. It was a nice mix of meeting other enthusiastic people and having moments of solitude. The leaves were beautiful shades of yellow and orange, and we could see some icy and snowy capped High Peaks in the distance. We opted to stop our journey there, though I know some hikers continued on to Giant Mountain.
This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.