Posts Tagged ‘APA’

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dave Gibson: Reform APA Project Review

The Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR) adjudicatory public hearing is finally underway. The ACR project was first introduced as a conceptual Adirondack Park Agency (APA) application in 2004. Seven years later, it is still massive, involving 719 dwelling units spread over 6,200 acres near Tupper Lake.

Hearing witnesses gave ample evidence last week that show APA’s staff decision to deem the ACR application complete in the fall of 2006 to have been premature. In reference to the applicant’s repeated failing to produce any kind of serious wildlife or natural resource studies, a key witness for APA, retired director of regulatory programs Mark Sengenberger, noted that APA can only ask for additional information and not receive it so many times. Wildlife habitat was a key piece of that missing information, Sengenberger said. As other witnesses revealed, also missing was any rigorous assessment of alternative designs of the development.

The costs of not requiring comprehensive data before deeming such a complex and controversial application complete are considerable. Between the applicant, the APA and the hearing parties, millions of dollars have been spent over six years in pre-hearing phases of the ACR without arriving at any deep understanding of the site to be developed. There are also big gaps in understanding the reliability of infrastructure and financing data in the application. Countless person hours have been spent at APA struggling to get information out of this applicant. I suspect that several legitimate requests from citizens to send other Park projects to hearing were denied, in part, because APA is such a small agency and ACR has consumed too much of its human and economic resources since 2004.

Dr. Michael Klemens, a conservation biologist and witness for Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, stated last week at the hearing: “we are forced to spend time at this hearing debating the lack of biological data, which should have been compiled and assessed before deeming the application complete, while instead this hearing should be discussing the implications of a robust set of ecological information that actually informs how and where to site development.”

In characterizing the proposed layout of development on the ACR site, Dr. Klemens stated “this is classic sprawl on steroids.” The ACR spreads negative ecological impacts out across the landscape, he stated. He added that by compacting the design to be less fragmenting of the landscape, many objectives would be met, both economic and ecological. Less money would be spent simply reaching the site with infrastructure, for example, while the impact or zones of influence of development on sensitive areas would be smaller. His testimony revealed a well known process to successfully build housing in sensitive landscapes that involves developing a complete understanding of the project site first, mapping that information, and only then developing plans for housing which avoids the most sensitive areas and maintains the integrity of ecological processes.

This could have happened for ACR, but unfortunately this application does the very opposite, he noted. Only the APA can determine why they allowed this to happen, he stated. Asked whether or not there is sufficient biological and ecological information in the application for the APA to reach a determination of no undue adverse impact, Dr. Klemens stated “there is insufficient data to make such a determination.”

Asked whether the APA could merely place conditions on a defective application which purport to “mitigate” adverse impacts, Dr. Klemens said “a defective application should never be conditioned. It should simply be denied without prejudice, and the applicant given time to develop that information, and resubmit the application.”

Dr. Klemens is the Planning Board chairman for a town in Connecticut. In that capacity, he said he often imposes expectations on developers working within a complex, ecologically important site to identify and map sensitive resources prior to laying out development sites. “Understand the site first, and from that understanding develop plans for housing or other development.” In fact, he noted, in his experience fast-tracked applications are those that have developed good biological and natural resource data. That way, conflict is reduced, development occurs in the less sensitive places, and money is saved. The “train wrecks” result when a process does not allow for understanding natural systems in the first place, like the ACR.

In responding to cross examination, Dr. Klemens took time to explain his view that his testimony is not about whether or not development should or can take place on the ACR site. It is very likely that development is compatible with areas on the site, he said. The “real issue involved in this hearing is the amount, intensity and lay-out of that development. That’s the key.”

How can the APA use the ACR experience to improve its project review? One way is to mimic the way its sister agency, DEC, as well as many town and county planning boards utilize the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Act. After determining that a project may have one or more significant environmental impacts, a step known as a positive declaration of impact, the lead agency in SEQR must require an environmenal impact statement (EIS) of the developer. Project scoping invites the public to comment on the proposed topics to be covered by the EIS. “The purpose of scoping is to focus the EIS on the most relevant issues and potential impacts, including means to avoid or minimize those impacts; the lead agency may thereby ensure that the draft EIS will be a concise, accurate and complete (emphasis mine) document adequate for public review” (from: www.dec.ny.gov).

Think of the APA application process as a version of SEQR, and the APA’s review as a kind of EIS. Before deeming an application complete, the agency could invite the public to help APA undertake project scoping in order to ensure that an application actually and thoroughly answers key questions, and provides the information required for a comprehensive review of impacts. If that process were used, there might be more meaningful constituent participation with APA and fewer “train wrecks” like ACR, where so much time is spent at an APA hearing debating the paucity and reliability of information and data needed by the commissioners to reach a sound, post-hearing decision. In fact, I remember several APA commissioners suggesting this very reform of their own project review of large projects in 2008, following their approval of the FrontStreet application in North Creek. I have yet to see positive results from their suggestions.

Photo: Dr. Michael Klemens points to a map of ACR during his testimony at the public hearing last week.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Guest Essay: Lessons from the 2010 Census

What follows is a guest essay by Ken Strike, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University and member of the board of Protect the Adirondacks. Ken and Lorraine Duvall produced a demographic study of the Adirondacks following 2009’s Adirondack Park Regional Assessment (APRAP) report. The Almanack asked Ken, who lives in Thendara on the Moose River, to provide his perspective on the 2010 Census.

What does the 2010 census tell us about ourselves? The Adirondack population is basically flat with growth in some places and losses in others, and our population is aging. For some it has been easy to conclude that these demographics are the result of a poor economy and that this poor economy results from public ownership of land and the Park’s regulatory environment. However, a more careful reading of the 2010 census data tea leaves does not support these views. Rather, they suggest that we are much like other rural areas – in fact we’re better off than many. Our population dynamics also track the dynamics of the U.S. and NYS white population. No great surprise that. And they suggest that the Park is an asset, not a liability. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Phil Brown: Is Tupper Lake Resort Realistic?

Tupper Lake is hurting. Logging no longer employs as many people as it once did. The Oval Wood Dish factory closed years ago. Young people leave because they can’t find work. Over the past decade, the community lost 7 percent of its population.

Enter the developers behind the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort. They want to build a year-round resort with 650 residential units in the vicinity of the Big Tupper Ski Area. They also plan to refurbish and reopen the beloved ski area. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Adirondack Park Agency Meets This Week

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, April 14 and Friday April 15, 2011 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The meeting will be webcast live on the APA website.

Topics for this week’s meeting will include a shoreline structure setback variance from the Town of Moriah, after-the-fact hunting and fishing cabins on Heartwood Forestland Fund lands, an 85-unit housing development at Lake Placid, amendments to Agency approved Local Land Use Programs for the Town of Queensbury and the Town of Chester, a revised Civil Penalty Guidance, updates to the Agency’s Delegation Resolution, and more.

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Acting Executive Director James Connolly’s report where he will review monthly activities and introduce a resolution in support of Earth Day and the International Year of Forests 2011.

At 9:15 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a proposed shoreline structure setback variance from the Town of Moriah for a series of structures within the mean high water mark of Lake Champlain, a proposed permit amendment to approve after-the-fact hunting and fishing cabins on lands now owned by the Heartwood Forestland Fund and an 85-unit multi-family housing development proposed by Rangeview at Lake Placid, LLC.

At 1:00, This month, Town of Schroon Lake, Essex County Supervisor Cathy Moses will provide the Community Spotlight with an overview of her Essex County community. Supervisor Moses will discuss town accomplishments, opportunities and challenges ahead.

At 1:45, the Enforcement Committee will hear a first reading of the revised Civil Penalty Guidance. The guidance is intended to assist Agency staff determine appropriate, fair civil penalties for violations.

At 2:30, the Administration Committee may take action on comprehensive updates to the Agency’s Delegation Resolution which delegates certain powers and responsibilities.

At 3:15, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will receive a staff briefing on the Agency’s Geographic Information System and detailed soil mapping.

At 4:00, the Regulatory Programs Committee will reconvene for a staff update on a recently issued permit for the control of the invasive Asian Clam in Lake George.

Friday morning at 9:00, the Local Government Services Committee will deliberate proposed amendments to Agency approved Local Land Use Programs for the Town of Queensbury and the Town of Chester. The committee will also host a presentation from Roger Trancik and Bill Johnston on the recently completed project, “Hamlets 3: Planning for Smart Growth and Expansion of Hamlets in the Adirondack Park.” “Hamlets 3” examines three case studies to illustrate ways to design residential and commercial growth areas by building on existing community centers.

At 10:45, the Full Agency will assemble to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website.

The May Agency is scheduled for May 12-13, 2011 at Agency headquarters in Ray Brook.

June Agency Meeting: June 9-10 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Dave Gibson: Elected APA Commissioners?

Brian Mann has raised a proposal to allow Park residents to cast ballots and elect the five Park resident APA Commissioners, which would require a change in the law which requires the Governor to nominate, and the Senate to confirm all eight of private citizen members of the agency. I happen to believe that the current law remains the most equitable and practical way to ensure a proper diversity, array of statewide and park talents and commitments to the purposes of the APA Act. Be that as it may, Brian’s is hardly a new idea.

I found some interesting quotes from early APA Chairmen who were answering a question posed to them in 1981 at a conference. The question from a member of the audience was: “If one of our main goals is to win the acceptance of the Adirondack people, wouldn’t it have been a good idea earlier on to include local representation and to have the commissioners elected, or to give the local people some other access or resources in dealing with the agency”?

One of the most interesting resources from which to follow the thinking and trends of the Adirondack Park Agency in its early history are the printed records of the Conferences on the Adirondack Park, 1971-1981, published by St. Lawrence University. SLU faithfully captured every word spoken at those June conferences held on their beautiful Camp Canaras campus on Upper Saranac Lake.

Just about every conference in those years featured the views and reports of APA Executive Directors and Chairmen, along with those knowledgeable in Adirondack wildlife research, tax policy, land use planning, Forest Preserve, water quality, invasive species, great camp architecture, and much more. The costs of publishing these printed records of the conference in the era before computerization eventually became prohibitive, but SLU’s Camp Canaras conferences continued for another 15 years or so, and I always felt they were “must attend” events. The content, entry price, company, and shoreline scenery were all outstanding.

How did former APA Chairmen Richard Lawrence of New York City and Elizabethtown and Robert Flacke of Lake George answer the above question which was posed to them on that summer day of 1981? The answers are found in the printed proceedings of St. Lawrence University’s 1981 Conference on the Adirondack Park. Richard Lawrence served as chairman of the APA from its beginnings in 1971 until 1975. Robert Flacke succeeded Dick Lawrence as chairman in 1976 and served until 1978.

Robert Flacke: “I think the history of land use controls give us the answer to that…if 51 percent of any type of a voting body has a parochial interest, whether it is in a village or a town or a county or region then essentially those are the only interests that will be forwarded and protected. That is what happened with the (Lake) Tahoe experiment (in California). There was an equal voting strength between the two bodies and there was no overriding concern. Now, the basic question was asked in the Study Commission on the Adirondacks: Are the Adirondacks an area of statewide concern? The answer was affirmative. The program goes beyond the interests of the people who are here, although the interests of the people who are here are very, very important. Therefore, the balance that was established, I think, is the proper balance… One must maintain, then, a statewide interest if one continues to believe that the resource is important for all the people of the state.”

Richard Lawrence: “I might add just one other point. We have, of course, elected representatives in the legislature such as assemblymen and state senators. Yet this is a fact of political life that not one of our local representatives is here. Andrew Ryan, Glenn Harris or Senator Ronald Stafford could not possibly be reelected if they would support and go all out for the Adirondack Park Agency. That is a simple fact of life. If they choose to be in office they simply cannot believe very strenuously in land use planning. Perhaps ten years from now there will be a different answer. That is the name of the game now.”

Later on, in response to a statement from Park resident that “the thing I am most worried about is that the Adirondack Park Agency may disappear. I do not want it to disappear because I do not want to lose any of this,” Robert Flacke continued, “That brings out the fundamental question of membership in a land use agency. Land use control started with the Park Avenue experiment in New York City, but the lowest level of government, when you look back in the history book, has always been unable to perform adequately in land use controls because of the very issue that you bring out. If a town board gets involved in land use questions, its members then become subject to very grave social and economic pressures… I can remember during my tenure as town supervisor certain councilmen had to make a decision that they felt very strongly about. It may have gone against certain other economic interests. A fellow that ran a gas station came to me one day and said ‘I’m going to go broke because all my customers are telling me that if I don’t vote that way they will go elsewhere for their gas.’ This essentially says that when you are involved in land use, you have to have an insulated body generally at the next level of government, whether it is county or regional. I think time will tell that economically the local people are not destroyed (by the APA), but benefited, if in a different way.”

Photo: Above, looking out on Upper Saranac Lake from the SLU Camp Canaras campus, 1991 Conference on the Adirondacks; Below, a panel at the same conference.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

APA Meeting This Week: LGRB Deal in Works

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, March 17 and Friday March 18, 2011 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The meeting will be webcast live and meeting materials are available for download.

Among the topics for discussion will be a Memorandum of Understanding between the Adirondack Park Agency and the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board.

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report where she will review monthly activities.

At 9:15 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a proposed five lot shoreline subdivision involving wetlands and within a scenic river area, a proposed shoreline structure setback variance involving the vertical expansion of single family dwelling, a proposed telecommunication tower with antenna and ancillary equipment, and a third renewal request for a previously approved resort community project.

At 1:00, Francis J. Murray, Jr., President and CEO of the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will brief the Park Planning and Policy Committee on programs NYSERDA offers throughout the Adirondack Park.

At 2:00, the State Land Committee will convene for an informational presentation on the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Unit Management Plan.

At 3:45, the Economic Affairs Committee will hear a presentation from Mark and Kristin Kimball on Sustainable Agriculture and Community Markets.

Kristin Kimball is author of The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love, a memoir about her adjustment from a writer’s life in Manhattan to running the Essex Farm in Essex, New York together with her husband Mark.

At 3:30, the Administration Committee will discuss the Agency Delegation Resolution.

At 4:15, the Enforcement Committee will receive a program overview highlighting activities and accomplishments.

Friday morning at 9:00, the Local Government Services Committee will discuss a Memorandum of Understanding between the Adirondack Park Agency and the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board.

At 9:45, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will be updated on mapping and Geographic Information Services available at the Adirondack Park Agency.

At 10:30, the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider authorizing staff to proceed to public notice for draft General Permit 2011G-2 – “Herbicide Vegetation Management for Guide Rail and Sign and Delineator Posts Adjacent to Wetlands in the Adirondack Park.

At 11:00, the Full Agency will assemble to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

The April Agency is scheduled for April 14-15, 2011 at Agency headquarters in Ray Brook.

May Agency Meeting: May 12-13 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

14th Local Government Conference Announced

The 14th Annual Adirondack Park Local Government Day Conference is scheduled for March 22 and 23, 2011 in Lake Placid, New York at the Crowne Plaza Resort. This event is presented by the Adirondack Park Agency, Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, NYS Department of State, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and Empire State Development Corporation.

The annual event begins on Tuesday afternoon with a discussion lead by Curt Stiles, Adirondack Park Agency Chairman; Bill Farber, Adirondack Partnership; Garry Douglas, Governor’s Committee for Economic Development and Labor; Matthew Driscoll, President, NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation; Joe Martens, Acting Commissioner, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation; and Darrin Derosia, Associate Counsel, NYS Department of State to examine the challenges facing governmental organizations in 2011, the opportunities for change, and the future for the Park’s environment, economy and communities. Immediately following will be a facilitated forum style question and answer session with local and State leaders.

An informal social with State and local officials follows the Tuesday afternoon session.

On Wednesday, a full-day of conference presentations and workshops focuses on Adirondack issues, community planning, and training for planning and zoning board members. Keynote speaker, Dede Scozzafava, Deputy Secretary for Local Government at the NYS Department of State, will deliver her message during the lunch time session. The full conference agenda and registration materials are available on the Adirondack Park Agency’s website.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Dave Gibson: Tupper Lake and the APA Act

It is noteworthy to read local supporters of the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort expressing their full faith in the NYS Adirondack Park Agency’s ultimate review of that proposal. The Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce and ARISE (a Tupper Lake nonprofit) were quoted this week as saying “let the agency do its job.” Meanwhile, these organizations deride the efforts of others – “outsiders” – in the public hearing as obstructing the agency’s work.

Four years after it was ordered to adjudicatory public hearing by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), the proposed subdivision and second home development known as the Adirondack Club and Resort encompassing 6400 acres near Tupper Lake may finally get the close scrutiny it merits. The hearing, encompassing a dozen interrelated issues and over three dozen parties, should begin this spring. The group I work with, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, is one of those parties.

The Chamber’s apparent embrace of the APA Act and its implementation through this public hearing is both interesting and gratifying: interesting because Tupper Lake rejected sharing local land use controls with the APA in the early 1990s because it might lend legitimacy to the APA legislation that the Chamber now apparently embraces; gratifying to hear because the APA Act mandates the very statewide concerns that “outsiders” can help to bring to the table.

The APA Act states “continuing public concern, coupled with the vast acreages of forest preserve holdings, clearly establishes a substantial state interest in the preservation and development of the park area. The state of New York has an obligation to insure that contemporary and projected future pressures on the park resources are provided for within a land use control framework which recognizes not only matters of local concern but also chose of regional and state concern” (Section 801, APA Act)

Reflecting as it does 150 years of statewide concern for the Adirondacks, the Act and its regulations anticipate statewide interest in the upcoming ACR public hearing, and mandate that the APA take those interests into account in its review. One of the biggest statewide concerns is that two thirds of the ACR proposal involves large second homes across Resource Management lands “where the need to protect, manage and enhance forest, agricultural, recreational and open space resources of paramount importance because of overriding natural resource and public considerations” (Section 805, APA Act)

That public can come from Tupper Lake and from anywhere else within the boundaries of the state, or beyond. Adirondack Council, Adirondack Wild, Protect the Adirondacks and others seek to help represent the broader public’s interests to “protect the delicate physical and biological resources, encourage proper and economic management of forest, agricultural and recreational resources and preserve the open spaces that are essential and basic to the unique character of the park” (Section 805).

There are still many others who want to focus on the local benefits and burdens of this proposal. The proposal if permitted and carried out to its full extent would carve out a new, sprawling development hub miles from current service providers in the village.

All need to bear in mind that whatever comes out of the hearing and agency review will have an effect on the entire Adirondack Park. This may be a precedent setting decision, and hundreds of thousands of people around the state will watch and examine its results carefully. The last time such a large subdivision and second home development was proposed in 1972, APA was a new and untested agency. I suspect the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce back in 1972 viewed the Agency as “outsiders.” Judging from the Chamber’s news release this week, the Agency and local perspective on the Agency from Tupper Lake has matured since then. The local and regional economy is rough today, but it was also rough in 1972. Second home subdivisions consume more of the environment, demand far more services and draw far more energy than they did in 1972. Meanwhile, one big thing hasn’t changed since that year – the APA Act, which has been amended just once in 38 years.

Photos: Hearing parties at the ACR field visit, May 2007; and visiting the beaver dam holding back Cranberry Pond.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Adirondack Park Agency Issues Annual Report

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has issued its 2010 Annual Report. The report summarizes yearly accomplishments and includes links to key documents such as the Citizen Guide, Jurisdictional Form, telecommunication sites, broadband coverage and Unit Management Plans. In addition, embedded in this year’s report is a link to the 2010 Agency Board Highlights. The Board Highlights link details Board activity, projects approved and presentations received. The Annual Report is available from the Agency’s website [pdf]. Information about the 2009 Annual Report can be found here.

During 2010, the Administration Division worked to meet budget mandates by reducing the work force. This was accomplished in part through retirements and the closure of both the Visitor Interpretive Centers.

The Economic Services Division participated in the review and approval of 42 projects which are believed to have retained or created jobs in the Park. In addition, staff coordinated with the Town of Brighton on reuse opportunities for the former Camp Gabriels prison site and provided guidance on the Lake Champlain Bridge project which expedited project approval.

Regulatory Programs staff issued 392 permits and processed 167 pre-application requests. 59 economic development and 28 cellular projects were approved. In addition, 73 general permits were issued. APA staff responded to the sudden closure of the Lake Champlain Bridge by issuing permits for bridge demolition, the development of a temporary ferry and the construction of the new tied-arch bridge. Regulatory Program staff helped develop new general permit applications for a change in use for existing commercial, public/semi-public or industrial buildings and the installation of new or replacement cellular equipment.

Planning staff worked with local governments such as the Towns of Westport and Tupper Lake which sought successfully sought planning map amendments. Planning staff also worked with the Towns of Crown Point, Essex and Bellmont on local planning and mapping initiatives. Staff prepared base maps for the Hamlets 3 Smart Growth project and assisted in the development of a Memorandum of Understanding between the APA and the Department of EEnvironmental Conservation (DEC) that defines a process for review of projects on lands in which the State owns a conservation easement.

Local Government Services staff responded to 570 inquiries from local officials on land use issues and participated in twenty-six meetings with town officials providing information on Agency jurisdiction and land use law. In addition, staff reviewed 99 variances from towns with approved local land use programs.

State land staff prepared four State land classification packages which were approved by the Governor in 2010. Actions included were the creation of a new Little Moose Mountain Wilderness Area, establishment of a new Intensive Use Camping Area in the Moose River Plains, and the reclassification of the fire towers on Hurricane and St. Regis Mountain to Historic. Staff also provided advice on five new unit management plans which were determined compliant with the SLMP by the Agency Board.

Resource Analysis and Scientific Services staff completed 271 wetland delineations, advised on 242 wetland jurisdictional determinations and evaluated 81 deep hole test pits. Staff conducted educational workshops on stormwater management and the impacts of invasive species.

Regulatory revision was a significant focus for Legal staff. During the year, staff implemented regulatory revisions related to boathouses. The Legal Division also continued to work on advancing three bills in the legislature: 1) to create a community housing incentive; 2) to create a local planning grant program; and 3) to streamline the Agency’s permit process and enable development rights transfer. Legal staff were also responsible for executing Executive Order 25, which required State agencies to conduct a review of their rules and regulations.

The Jurisdictional Inquiry Office wrote 856 jurisdictional determinations, (560 non-jurisdictional and 186 jurisdictional) handled 510 referrals from other agencies and answered nearly 4,820 general inquiry phone calls. The average response time for jurisdictional determinations was 16 days. In addition, staff processed 233 Freedom of Information requests.

Enforcement staff opened 380 cases and successfully closed 372 cases, including 189 signed settlement agreements and 112 cases closed with no violations. Ongoing outreach with code enforcement and local government officials has dramatically reduced the number of subdivision violations. In 2010, of the 98 subdivisions undertaken within the Park, only one resulted in a violation.

The mission of the Adirondack Park Agency is to protect the public and private resources of the Adirondack Park through the exercise of the powers and duties of the Agency as provided by law. For more information, call the APA at (518) 891-4050 or visit www.apa.state.ny.us.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

APA Meeting Thursday: Queensbury, Westport Development, More

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, February 10 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook. The February meeting is one day only and will be webcast live. The meeting will be webcast live.

Among the issues to be considered is a boathouse variance, bridges and culverts in the Park, development in Queensbury and Westport, Green programs at the Golden Arrow Resort in Lake Placid, and a presentation on alpine meadow vegetation.

Here is the full agenda:

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report where she will present the 2010 annual report.

At 10:45 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a request for a shoreline structure setback variance to authorize the construction of stairs onto an existing boathouse. The project site is located on First Bisby Lake in the Town Webb, Herkimer County. Jim Bridges, Regional Design Engineer, and Tom Hoffman, Structure Engineer, from the NYS Department of Transportation will then brief the committee on the status of bridges and culverts inside the Adirondack Park.

At 1:00, the Full Agency will convene for the Community Spotlight presentation. This month Town of Brighton Supervisor John Quenell will discuss issues and opportunities facing this Franklin County town.

At 1:45, the Local Government Services Committee will consider approving an amendment to revise the Town of Queensbury’s existing zoning law. The committee will also hear a presentation from the Town of Westport to utilize a Planned Unit Development (PUD) in conjunction with a linked Agency map amendment process to establish growth areas within the town.

At 3:00, the Economic Affairs Committee will hear a presentation from Jenn Holderied-Webb from the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid on “green programs.” The Golden Arrow Resort implemented unique initiatives to establish itself as an environmentally friendly resort.

At 3:45, the State Land Committee will hear a presentation on alpine meadow vegetation.

At 4:15, the Full Agency will convene will assemble to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website.

The March Agency is scheduled for March 17-18, 2011 at Agency headquarters in Ray Brook.

April Agency Meeting: April 14-15 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Adirondack Impacts of Andrew Cuomo’s Budget

Here are some of the Adirondack Park related highlights from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2011-12 Executive Budget, his first plan for closing the state’s estimated $11 billion deficit.

Cuomo’s budget plan would maintain the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) at $134 million, the same spending level as in the current budget, but would further reduce the budgets of the Adirondack Park Agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation, close several prisons (possibly including some in the North Country), and disband the Tug Hill Commission.

“We have to consider this a victory,” said Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) said in a statement about EPF funding. “Under the circumstances, it could have been much worse. Deep cuts in the EPF would have had a substantial and long-lasting impact on New York’s natural resources. Fortunately, Governor Cuomo had the wisdom and foresight not to do that.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Naming The Adirondack Interpretive Center

Newcomb VICThe interpretive center in Newcomb is now officially the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC), owned and managed by the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

ESF did not take lightly renaming the former APA Visitor Interpretive Center. We respect what the APA and its staff created and want to honor the history of the center. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dave Gibson: Common Road Salt is Toxic

Outside my house, and in the forest back beyond the land is carpeted with crystalline beauty, affording quietude, serenity, thermal shelter for critters, and some nice ski runs. Out on the county road, just two hours after the recent storm the pavement is bare – right on schedule with transportation departments’ standard for road maintenance and safety. To accomplish it, a corrosive pollutant will be laid down in quantity – 900,000 tons of road salt will be used across the state this winter according to the Department of Transportation (DOT) website. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 10, 2011

APA Critic Indicted on Felony Environmental Charges

A long-time critic of state environmental policies and enforcement has been indicted by a Clinton County grand jury on charges of violating several environmental conservation laws.

A Department of Environmental Conservation press release said Leroy Douglas of Ausable Forks, was charged for a 2008 incident with “Endangering Public Health, Safety, or the Environment in the third degree, a felony with a maximum fine of $150,000 and up to 4 years in prison” after allegedly improperly “disposing numerous 55-gallon drums containing a hazardous substance” onto property owned by his Douglas Corporation of Silver Lake.

Douglas was also charged with misdemeanors of Unlawful Disposal of Solid Waste, Disturbing the Bed/Banks of a Classified Trout Stream and Failure to Register a Petroleum Bulk Storage Facility, each of which could come with significant fines and up to a year in jail.

North Country Public Radio added that “a state investigator found a wide range of contamination on Douglas’s land, including a pile of lead acid batteries, dead animals and medical waste.”

Douglas told The Press-Republican that he believes the indictment is politically motivated. He claims the state wanted to buy his land but he refused to sell.

“DEC has had warrants to search my property twice since I wouldn’t sell,” Douglas said to the Plattsburgh daily. “If I’m such an environmental villain, what would they wait two and a half years for?”

The Press-Republican added that Douglas has filed suit in federal court against the Adirondack Park Agency in relation to a 2007 enforcement action against him.

“Douglas says the charges originated with his son, Michael, with whom he had a falling out a few years ago, and whose girlfriend, Elizabeth Vann, works for the DEC,” according to a report written by Post-Star Projects Editor Will Doolittle.

The Glens Falls daily, which has called for the APA’s abolition, has featured Douglas in several pieces (most notably here) written by Doolittle on alleged malfeasance by the Agency.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported that Douglas pleaded not guilty to this week’s charges.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

APA Meets Thursday: Warrensburg, Wells, Moriah, More

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, January 13 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The January meeting is one day only. Topics will include a variance for a sign at a new car dealership in Warrensburg, a shoreline structure setback and cutting variances for a proposed marina in Moriah, an enforcement action against an alleged wetland subdivision and substandard-sized lot subdivision in Wells, a presentation on Keene broadband project, military airspace and military aircraft use over the Adirondack Park, and the Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft policy for issuing Temporary Revocable Permits for State Lands and Conservation Easements.

The meeting will be webcast live online (choose Webcasting from the contents list). Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website. The full agenda follows:

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report where she will discuss current activities.

At 9:15 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider two variance projects; a request for a variance from the Q-3 sign standards for placement of new car dealership sign in the Town of Warrensburg, Warren County and shoreline structure setback and shoreline cutting variance variances for a proposed marina in the Town of Moriah, Essex County.

At 10:30, the Enforcement Committee will convene for an enforcement case involving alleged wetland subdivision and substandard-sized lot subdivision violations on private property in the Town of Wells, Hamilton County.

At 11:00, the Economic Affairs Committee will hear a presentation on the Town of Keene’s town-wide broadband project. Dave Mason and Jim Herman, project co-directors, will explain the project history, how it unfolded and detail project accomplishments.

At 1:00, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will be briefed on Military Airspace and Military Aircraft use over the Adirondack Park. Lt. Col. Fred Tomasselli, NY Air National Guard’s Airspace Manager at Fort Drum, will overview military airspace use. Commander Charles Dorsey, NY Air National Guard 174th Fighter Wing Vice-Commander at Fort Hancock, will detail the expected deployment of the MQ-9 Reaper aircraft for military training exercises over the Adirondack Park.

At 2:15, the State Land Committee will be updated by, Forest Preserve Management Bureau Chief Peter Frank, on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft policy for issuing Temporary Revocable Permits for State Lands and Conservation Easements. The draft policy proposes four types of revocable permits: Expedited, Routine, Non-Routine and Research.

At 3:00, the Park Ecology Committee will convene for a presentation from the Agency’s, Natural Resource Analysis Supervisor Daniel Spada, on his recent trip to China. The focus of the trip was the ongoing China Protected Areas Leadership Alliance Project. Mr. Spada will overview this project and describe his experiences with the various National Nature Reserve managers he visited with in Yunnan Province, China.

At 3:45, the Full Agency will convene will assemble to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

The February Agency is scheduled for February 10-11, 2011

March Agency Meeting: March 17-18 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.



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