Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Lawsuit updates and environmental notices

white lake quarry

Protect the Adirondacks and the Adirondack White Lake Association have filed an appeal after losing their case against the Adirondack Park Agency and Red Rock Quarry Associates in September in Oneida County Supreme Court. Protect and the lake association sued over a quarry permit the agency granted. The groups argued the APA should have held an adjudicatory hearing, a public hearing before an administrative law judge, before making a decision. The appeal was filed on July 7.

In another lawsuit brought by Protect against the DEC, it appears the parties are trying to settle. In January, Protect sued the DEC, arguing its maintenance of one mile of road in the western High Peaks Wilderness violated the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.  In a June 27 letter, the state Office of the Attorney General told the court, “(t)he parties have now reached a fifth agreement on scheduling intended to allow them additional time to explore settlement.”

A Freedom of Information Law lawsuit filed by former DEC Commissioner Tom Jorling against his old department also appears to be dropped. Jorling had contested the APA’s decision to withhold records involving agency communication with Saranac Lake Marina associates. The APA eventually released staff memos containing little information. Attorneys for the state and Jorling signed a “stipulation of discontinuance” at the end of June.

Every Wednesday, the DEC posts its environmental notice bulletin. These are projects posted for public comment. Some of these projects overlap with the APA’s review and other state agencies. Here are some on the docket:

  • The Northwood School in Essex County is applying to construct “two sections of boardwalk through wetlands for the purposes of rerouting the Cobble Hill Trail. One section will be 143 feet long by 4 feet wide and the other will be 22 feet long by 4 feet wide. The impacts to wetlands will be mitigated by the removal of a footbridge, trail way … and existing boardwalk, resulting in the removal of 627.7 square feet of fill from wetlands. Trailhead parking for this trail is not subject to Adirondack Park Agency review,” according to the bulletin. The APA’s comment period ends July 20. Comments may be sent to Bart Haralson, RPcomments@apa.ny.gov.
  • J&D Marina LLC is looking to reduce public launch activity at its site on state Route 9L in Queensbury. It proposes to “increase quick launch from 10 to 50 and increase outdoor winter boat storage from 225 to 275.” This project is before the Lake George Park Commission, with a comment period ending July 13. Comments may be submitted to Joe Thouin, joe@lgpc.state.ny.us.
  • The DEC has determined the Town of Westport’s application to modify its State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit is complete. “The Department has prepared a draft permit and has made a tentative determination, subject to public comment or other information, to approve a request by the Town of Westport … to reevaluate the dilution in the receiving water and the total residual Chlorine (TRC) limit. Based upon the information provided by the permittee on the Simple Mixing Zone Form, a mixing zone analysis was completed to project dilution in the waters of Lake Champlain. This resulted in a new dilution ratio and a change of the TRC limit from .15mg/L to .38 mg/L,” according to the notice. Comments must be received by Aug. 4. Submit comments and requests for documents to Erin M Donhauser, NYSDEC Region 5 Headquarters, 1115 St Rte 86 Ray Brook, NY 12977 or email DEP.R5@dec.ny.gov.

Recently, the Adirondack Council released a report about hiker numbers on trails to Marcy and Algonquin peaks. The council had commissioned Otak, an Oregon-based research and planning firm, to conduct the study in 2021. The state Department of Environmental Conservation hired the same firm to conduct its own study of visitation in the High Peaks this summer. It will be interesting to see what they find.

This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Gwen is the environmental policy reporter for Adirondack Explorer.

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