I went to Albany recently for an Appellate Division hearing in the case of Thomas Jorling vs. Adirondack Park Agency.
Jorling, a former Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner, is challenging the APA’s approval of a proposed marina expansion on Lower Saranac Lake. The hearing was the first chance for Claudia Braymer, Jorling’s attorney, to argue before judges that the state’s failure to study the capacity of Lower Saranac should invalidate the marina’s permit.
“The argument that they can just divorce the review of a private project from the review of the water resources of the Adirondack Park is wrong,” Braymer argued.
Joshua Tallent, an assistant attorney general representing APA at the hearing, asserted that the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan does not apply to private projects.
“The State Land Master Plan, as the name indicates, applies to state management decisions on state-owned-publicly-owned lands, on the Forest Preserve,” Tallent told the judges.
The judges also honed in on how the agency evaluated the site’s wetlands, and one judge pressed Tallent on why the agency doesn’t employ a reading of wetlands regulations that would result in more high-value wetlands determinations.
APA board members are already starting to discuss projects and the broader impacts to lakes in seemingly new ways, as policy reporter Gwen Craig detailed in a recent article.
I eagerly await the court’s decision, which the losing side could appeal to the state Court of Appeals for a final decision.
I also wrote about a recent study that provides further evidence that Adirondack lakes are losing oxygen and could be crossing thresholds dangerous to coldwater fish like trout. Researchers at Cornell and RPI analyzed over 400 lakes around the world, including about a dozen in the Adirondacks, and found that as temperatures warm, lakes remain stratified for longer and lose more oxygen in the depths. Shallow Adirondack lakes may be most sensitive to oxygen loss in the coming decades, threatening the health of trout populations.
The Lake George Park Commission today unanimously approved new septic regulations for properties within 500 feet of the lake and 100 feet of a stream at its meeting today.
The new regulations would require about 2,700 properties in the Lake George basin to be inspected to ensure a functioning septic system. Seasonal staff for the park commission would inspect about 540 homes each year, with residents required to get the inspection every five years.
Former DEC Commissioner Thomas Jorling, center in gray suit, and lawyers before a hearing at the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court’s Third Department. Photo by Zachary Matson
This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.