Posts Tagged ‘APA’

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Adirondack Park Agency: Still Business as Usual!

white lake quarry

By Ralph A. Cossa

In his Jan. 11 commentary in the Adirondack Almanack, Peter Bauer asked the question “Will the new boss be the same as the old boss?” in questioning whether the Adirondack Park Agency Board, under new chairman John Ernst, would finally start holding adjudicatory hearings regarding contentious issues, or would it continue to avoid this process which allows citizens’ and experts’ views to be heard and questions answered. The issue in question was the White Lake Quarry Application (APA2021-0075) which called for extensive mining operations directly over the community’s aquifer and within 1000 feet of their pristine spring-fed lake, in the middle of a tourist-oriented residential community of some 400 homes and small businesses.

Adjudicatory hearings used to be a regular occurrence; between 1973-2008, there were 151, or roughly 4-5 per year. Since 2008, not a single adjudicatory hearing has been held as the APA has become more and more inclined, especially during the Cuomo era, to support business activities in the Park it is sworn to protect. Governor Hochul has pledged to change that mind-set. Obviously, the word has yet to trickle down to the APA.

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Thursday, January 13, 2022

Adirondack Council leader recruited to Park Agency

megan phillipsMegan Phillips, former VP of Conservation, to become APA’s new Deputy Director for Planning

RAY BROOK, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council said today it was both pleased and disappointed today by the announcement that the Adirondack Park Agency had hired the Council’s Vice President for Conservation Megan Phillips to become the state agency’s new Deputy Director for Planning.

“We are pleased that the APA recognized her talents and will assign Megan a key role in its efforts to protect the park,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.  “But we are disappointed to be losing her talents here on our staff.  She will be missed.”

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Wednesday, January 12, 2022

White Lake Quarry: Business as Usual for the APA?

By Louanne Cossawhite lake quarry

In announcing the appointment of John Ernst as the new chairman of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in late October, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul referred to the Park as “a unique asset” and a “natural gem,” while further noting that “we must preserve its natural beauty for future generations to enjoy, while also boosting tourism and small businesses across the region.”  Unfortunately, the word has yet to filter down to the APA staff, whose primary mission is “to protect the public and private resources of the Park.”
Under the previous Cuomo administration, the APA had been very pro-development in the supposedly protected Park. That mind-set regrettably continues, one case in point being the application to begin extensive mining operations in close proximity to White Lake in the Forestport/Woodgate area inside the Park. Local affected residents in this small largely tourist community have submitted hundreds of letters and a petition with over a thousand signatures requesting an adjudicatory hearing to address the many deficiencies they have documented in the Red Rock Quarry Associates application to begin extensive granite mining operations – an initial excavation area of 5.2 acres within a 26.6 acre life of mine zone involving up to 3-6,000 cubic yards of dimensional stone and 10,000 cubic yards of aggregate annually hauled out by up to 20 tractor-trailers daily during an April-October 5 1/2 days/week operation.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

First Major Test at Adirondack Park Agency for Gov. Hochul, Chairman Ernst

Will the new boss be the same as the old boss?

We’ll know the answer to this question when the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) meets on January 13-14th. On its agenda is a draft permit for a new granite quarry in White Lake in the town of Forestport in the western Adirondacks. This project is widely opposed by neighboring landowners, residents, and property owners in the general area. There have been very few private land development projects in the last two decades that have engendered such a high level of public involvement and concern.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

An APA meeting with a chairman

APA signJohn Ernst chaired his first Adirondack Park Agency meeting last week. The agency met virtually again. It was not without technical hiccups. A state-run web system crash left some APA staff unable to control the Webex meeting for a time. This meant public commenters had to wait until the end of the meeting to speak, and some staff could not show their PowerPoint presentations. But the presentations were posted online so board members and the public could follow along. Patient members of the public waited nearly three hours later to speak.

Ernst fielded an agenda thick with information about solar projects and the agency’s role. In case you missed it, we had a short story about that last week you can read here.

We continue to follow the agency’s first public comment period over a subdivision in Jay. The APA is regularly updating its website with the latest comments submitted.

At the other end of the park in the town of Mayfield, we talked to an entrepreneur who wants to build an RV park on Great Sacandaga Lake. He has not yet submitted a permit application to the APA, but his plans are before the town’s planning board. Several folks in the neighborhood are against the proposal. You can read more about that here or by clicking the story below.

Have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” email. Click here to sign up.


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Formality Will Not Generate the Planning Needed in the Adirondacks

By Lee Nellis

Thanks to Peter Bauer for once again providing us with useful facts and commentary in his “Team Cuomo” editorial. I have no argument with what he says, so far as it goes, but fear that he creates the impression that the more frequent use of formal adjudicatory hearings will restore sound land-use planning to the Adirondacks.

It will not.

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Thursday, November 11, 2021

How Team Cuomo Subverted Basic Norms at the Adirondack Park Agency

Gov. Andrew CuomoOne big change that the Andrew Cuomo years brought to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) was that the senior staff and the APA Board refused to send a single development project to a formal adjudicatory public hearing. This defies logic in many ways. Based on information from a Freedom of Information request, from 1973 through 2010 there were 151 projects in APA history sent to a formal adjudicatory public hearing. Yet, somehow, during the Cuomo years, the Governor’s staff that managed the APA, and the APA senior staff, never allowed a single formal adjudicatory public hearing.

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Friday, October 22, 2021

APA back to public comments and more updates

The Adirondack Park Agency met last week for the first time since July. Board members had quite a bit of business to attend to while back in virtual format due to increasing concerns over the coronavirus. They approved a 20-megawatt solar farm in Ticonderoga, approved updates to the management plan for Fish Creek Pond Campground and Day Use Area and heard a presentation from the Olympic Regional Development Authority on proposed updates to Whiteface Mountain.

To top it off, this was the first virtual meeting in the last year-and-a-half of the pandemic that the APA allowed for live, public comment. Dave Gibson, managing partner of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, was the only person to make use of the comment period time afforded at the beginning and end of the meeting. In meetings prior, the agency collected public comments through an email address. It’s good to have the public be able to directly address board members again. This also coincided with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plans for all state agencies and departments to draft transparency guidelines, something the APA will have to do soon.

Fall hikes

On another note, I’ve received quite a few phone calls from folks asking me how to get a permit or reservation to hike in the Adirondacks. There is still clearly some confusion over the reservation system for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, a gateway to a number of popular hikes, but certainly not the only spot to see beautiful views. Most of the people who have called me say they have trouble using a computer and wish to book a reservation over the phone. I’ve also gotten quite a few phone calls asking about the status of our autumn foliage colors in the Adirondacks.

For those curious, we have a webpage with some answers on the reservation system for the Adirondack Mountain reserve here. You can also keep track of the fall colors through the I Love NY’s fall foliage reports, which we’ve been running on the Adirondack Almanack.

Photo from Rooster Comb in Keene on Oct. 11.

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


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Adirondack Park Agency Should Allow Verbal Public Comments

adirondack wildThe nonprofit advocate Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve has written to the NYS Adirondack Park Agency asking the agency to comply with its own public comment policy by inviting verbal public comment at the Agency’s remote October meeting. The webcast meeting takes place on Thursday Oct. 14.

The agency’s response to Adirondack Wild’s request, so far, has been that they would “take it into consideration.”

Governor Hochul has announced a Government Transparency Initiative which requires all New York State agencies to submit plans this month on how they will improve transparency. That order obviously includes the Adirondack Park Agency. Given that order, APA should be allowing the public to sign up and speak directly to the Adirondack Park Agency’s decision-makers during their regularly scheduled webcast meetings.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The Adirondack Park Agency Should Embrace Transparency

Recently, we saw news that Governor Kathy Hochul has instructed state agencies to develop and submit plans for greater transparency. As I wrote in a related piece, this is good news and welcome news. I’ve watched over the decades as state agencies have restricted more and more of what was once basic and easily accessible public information.

In a related piece I wrote about how the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) could improve its work and embrace openness and transparency. I provided a list of suggestions for ways to change its Forest Preserve work and other items relating to the Adirondack Park. These ideas would make meaningful and important reforms and should be included in the DEC’s “Transparency Plan” that it is soon to submit to Governor Hochul.

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Monday, August 16, 2021

Lesson from Wetland Hydrology 101

Many, many years ago I entered graduate school at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in New Haven, CT. My graduate interests lay primarily in water resources, so I searched that first semester for a lead professor/advisor in that vast field – and, due to recent retirements, found none.

As luck would have it, a Ph.D. candidate hosted a course in basic wetland hydrology 101 that fall. He was young, energetic, no nonsense kind of person, a stickler for getting out in the field and measuring things like water flow, water inputs, outputs and what was going on underneath our feet and the wet soils he was interested in. He took us to interesting places called bogs, fens, and cedar swamps requiring hip boots. We saw great swamp trees, like tupelos or black gum. We brought back funny looking, stained sketches of bogs and fens, with arrows showing what we thought was the direction of water flow pointing in various directions. I learned that a fen was a kind of boggy wetland where surface and/or ground water flowed through, introducing minerals and oxygenated conditions and thus making a fen somewhat less mineral impoverished than a bog lacking such through flow.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Was the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Duped?

upper saranac

APA mandate is to “ensure compliance with the laws the Agency administers” including the New York State Freshwater Wetlands Act. Instead, APA did the exact opposite with a recent decision permitting the virtual destruction of a Category 1 Wetland- the highest designation for a wetland – on Lot 9, Deerwood, Upper Saranac Lake (USL). For no apparent reason, other than convenience of the new landowner, APA issued an amended permit.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

[email protected] Symposium

wild idea [email protected] Symposium took place on on June 22 and the organizations were happy to host so many lively conversations on the legacy and future of the Adirondack Park Agency. We thank all who attended the live event for your thoughtful questions and input.

All three sessions of the symposium are now available for viewing on our Vimeo page. Links to each session as well as a link to the special preview of the upcoming Mountain Lake PBS documentary on the early years of the APA (based on Brad Edmondson’s new book, A Wild Idea) are below.

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Thursday, July 1, 2021

Upper Saranac coalition: APA ruling endangers wetlands

upper saranac In an unprecedented reversal of its prior position, the APA is amending a long-standing 1987 permit to allow a large private residential septic system to endanger to a rare bog and degrade Upper Saranac Lake water quality.  The APA has ignored their own 1987 permit requirements.

A coalition of conservationists, engineers, a wetland ecologist, and neighbors of a proposed development within the Class 1 wetlands on Upper Saranac Lake said today that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) had, over the strong objections of environmentalists, engineers and local landowners, approved an amendment to an existing APA permit.  The amendment eases the restrictions normally required for wetlands, and for only the last lot of the Deerwood Subdivision. This amendment allows for an on-site septic system 100 feet from a stream that empties into the Upper Saranac Lake and from the rare Category 1 wetlands boundary.

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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Historic Saranac Lake hosts book talk series

wild ideaJOIN OUR ONLINE BOOK TALKS ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE APA
  • June 18 at 2:00 pm — Rural Indigenousness with author, Melissa Otis. The discussion will be moderated by Iakonikonriiosta, Museum Manager of the Akwesasne Cultural Center.
  • June 30 at 6:00pm — Contested Terrain with author, Phil Terrie. The discussion will be moderated by Ann Norton Greene.
  • July 8 at 6:00pm — 50 Years of the APA: A Wild Idea with author Brad EdmondsonThe discussion will be moderated by Jim Hotaling. Register for the talk and receive a 30% discount to order and read the book in advance.
REGISTER HERE for any or all of these three presentations.
Please consider making a donation to help support these great presentations.


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