The Review Board thanks the Adirondack Park Agency for the public hearing process on the 2016 classification package and makes the following comments regarding the process, and the classification of the Boreas Ponds Tract, the Benson Road Tract and the MacIntyre East and West Tracts.
The members of the Review Board have carefully considered the physical characteristics of those tracts and their capacity to withstand use, as the fundamental determinants of state land classification specified by the State Land Master Plan, and support the following:
o The compromise of Alternative 1 for the Boreas Ponds Tract. o Wild Forest classification for the Benson Road Tract. o Evaluation of additional alternatives for the MacIntyre East and West Tracts.
This fall, the Adirondack Park Agency invited the public to offer ideas for revising the State Land Master Plan – which hasn’t been substantially amended since 1987 – and the agency got an earful.Among those submitting suggestions were the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, environmental organizations, mountain bikers, and backcountry skiers.
The Local Government Review Board, which has a non-voting seat on the APA board, proposed a number of amendments. Perhaps the most fundamental change would put economic development on an equal footing with natural resource protection in the plan’s mission statement. » Continue Reading.
Because of snow in the forecast, the Adirondack Park Agency has canceled tonight’s meeting in Old Forge on proposed amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.
The meeting has been rescheduled for 4-6 p.m. Monday at the gymnasium in the Town of Webb School on Route 28 in Old Forge.
The APA is considering two changes to the master plan. One would permit mountain biking in the Essex Chain Primitive Area, and the other would allow the state to build a snowmobile bridge over the Cedar River using some non-natural materials.
The Adirondack Park Agency is considering two amendments to the State Land Master Plan, both concerning the Essex Chain Lakes region, but the agency likely will be asked to weigh broader changes to the document.
The Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board already has set forth nine proposals for amending the master plan, which governs the state’s management of the Forest Preserve.
“There’s going to be more, but that’s a start,” Fred Monroe, the board’s executive director, told Adirondack Almanack at an APA “listening session” Wednesday evening, the first of four such meetings that the agency plans to hold to gather ideas on amending the master plan.
Town leaders lobbied hard for a snowmobile trail through the Essex Chain Tract that would connect the hamlets of Indian Lake and Newcomb, and it appears they may get their wish.
Although the Adirondack Park Agency staff has recommended keeping most of the 18,230-acre tract motor-free, it would allow a snowmobile trail to traverse the property.
Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, praised the staff’s proposal. “It was an attempt to protect the natural resources and make some reasonable compromises for the economy and the local communities,” he said.
Monroe said the towns need the trail to spur the winter economy. “It’s one thing to have a business and survive in the summer, but it’s very different in winter, and snowmobiling is huge,” he said.
Yet the proposed trail raises a number of legal and policy issues that the APA board likely will grapple with this week as it deliberates on the classification of the Essex Chain Tract and three smaller parcels acquired by the state over the past year.
At the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) monthly meeting in September, Fred Monroe of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board made some very confusing statements about transferable development rights, or TDR.
He expressed the notion that annually leased hunting and fishing cabins on the former Finch Pryun lands constitute a guaranteed building right which can be transferred elsewhere “for affordable housing and for facilities needed for tourism.” The state’s acquisition of these lands for the public implies a loss of forestry jobs and taxes, he argued, which should be compensated by transferring building “density” to help the local tax base somewhere else. He further confused matters by stating that eventual loss of some of these camps would deprive Newcomb, for example, of places to stay overnight. » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent commitment to acquire 69,000 acres of the former Finch Pruyn lands for the publicly-owned NYS Forest Preserve over the next several years completes a 161,000-acre conservation project of national and global importance.
Conservation of the paper company’s lands was a topic fifty years ago this summer when Paul Schaefer had an interesting conversation with then Finch Pruyn Company President Lyman Beeman. Both were members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Natural Resources then studying Adirondack forests. » Continue Reading.
The state’s newly signed contract to buy sixty-nine thousand acres of former Finch Paper lands won’t end the controversy over the future of these forests, lakes, and rivers. The next battle will be over their classification: Wilderness or Wild Forest?
Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed Sunday that the state will acquire the land over the next five years, adding it to the Forest Preserve and paying the Adirondack Nature Conservancy a total of $49.8 million.
The governor’s announcement in Lake Placid put to rest any doubts about the state’s intentions. Some political leaders in the Adirondack Park had been lobbying the state to protect the land with conservation easements rather than add it to the Forest Preserve. This option would have allowed logging to continue and hunting clubs to remain as leaseholders. » Continue Reading.
The 15th Annual Adirondack Park Local Government Day Conference is scheduled for March 20 and 21, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Resort in Lake Placid. The event is presented by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages (AATV), Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board (LGRB), NYS Department of State (DOS), NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and Empire State Development Corporation.
The event begins on Tuesday afternoon with a discussion on the governor’s economic development councils initiative. Co-chair Garry Douglas and regional directors from the Capital, Mohawk and North County are expected to discuss economic development strategies for the Adirondack Park. Tuesday afternoon concludes with a facilitated forum with local and state leaders including AATV President Brian Towers, APA Chairwoman Leilani Ulrich, Adirondack Partnership (a consortium of municipalities and economic development agencies) Chairman Bill Farber, DEC Deputy Commissioner Marc Gerstman, DOS Deputy Secretary Dede Scozzafava, ESD Regional Director Roseanne Murphy and LGRB Executive Director Fred Monroe, who are expected to offer their thoughts on the role of state agencies and local governments in shaping the future of the Adirondack Park.
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. Economic development topics continue to be featured along with examples of community initiatives and municipal efficiencies. The full conference agenda and registration materials are available on the Adirondack Park Agency’s website.
What follows is a guest essay by Frederick H. Monroe, Executive Director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board (LGRB). The LGRB was created by the Adirondack Park Agency Act “For the purpose of advising and assisting the Adirondack Park Agency in carrying out its functions, powers and duties.”
Through his vision and leadership, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has offered to the communities of New York a major opportunity – with the potential for large rewards: The chance to set our own economic agendas, regionally, with the ten Regional Economic Councils. And, initially, a piece of the $200 million in state funding that goes along with them. » Continue Reading.
A small group of the usual opponents of smart development have raised another ruckus with the help of some local media. It was reported in the local daily press (“APA hears citizens’ rage“, “APA critics blast board“), and followed up by Denton Publications, (including video!). It was one of a regular stream of media campaigns orchestrated and carried out by some of the same folks who have opposed smart development planning for the Adirondack Park since it began 40 years ago.
As if on cue, the Glens Falls Post-Star then launched another of its – this time particularly vicious – attacks on the Adirondack Park’s regional planning board, the Adirondack park Agency (APA). That nasty editorial ran on the same day some 120 people from all perspectives and sectors of the Adirondacks were meeting in Long Lake to find ways to set aside their differences and work together for a better Adirondacks. It started July 15th with what appears to have been an organized protest at an APA business meeting, and may have been result of leaked information that APA Chairman Curt Stiles would step down the next day. The usual suspects were on hand, including Salim “Sandy” Lewis, Carol LaGrasse, Frank Casier, Mike Vilegi, Howard Aubin, and Bob Schulz. Insults were hurled at the “un-American”; cries for “liberty” and an end to “tyranny” and “repression and fear” were heard – Lewis and his entourage stormed out. Here’s a quick look at those who were there:
Salim “Sandy” Lewis is the former Wall Street trader who recently won a $71,600 settlement from state taxpayers after arguing that the APA had no jurisdiction over farms (he had sought close to a quarter million). “You are hated by a significant portion of this community,” he told the APA’s commissioners. Lewis believes the APA restricts local farming operations, despite the fact that local farming is up considerably amid a national decline (1, 2). [He believes there are two kind of farmers: “real farmers” who have capital to invest in their farms, and “phony farmers” who don’t]. Apparently, Lewis’s Wall Street experience has led him to believe that no none should have a say in the impacts large businesses have in the Adirondack Park. During a litany of threats against a variety of enemies, Lewis claimed he was asked to attend the APA meeting by the Governor’s Office. “I’ve been asked to name five new board members to this group by the Governor’s office,” he said.
Carol LaGrasse is the leader of the one-woman Property Rights Foundation who has called the APA “anti-family”. Among her more ridiculous assertions was the prediction that massive forest fires would follow the blowdown of 1995 if the state didn’t allow logging on Forest Preserve land (1). She was wrong then, but continues to appear regularly in local media reports whenever they need to trot out a rabid anti-environmentalist, Adirondack Park or Forest Preserve opponent.
Frank Casier is a former real estate developer. Now 92, Casier was a co-founder of Tony D’Elia’s Adirondack Defense League, described by Kim Smith Dedam as “an early order of resistance to the institution of the APA Act in 1973.” Casier, who said “The APA destroyed three of my housing projects,” was on hand with a 12-page pamphlet entitled The Theft of the Adirondacks. According to LaGrasse, Casier hasn’t been to an APA meeting in decades, but he said he has a new anti-APA book forthcoming. Casier was once the publisher of the anti-APA Adirondack Defender, funded by Alpo Dog Foods founder and Lake Placid summer resident (now deceased) Robert F. Hunsicker. The first Adirondack Defender was published as an supplement insert in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise (then led by Will Doolittle‘s dad), and subsequently run in the Tupper Lake Free Press, Ticonderoga Sentinel, and Malone Telegram. The Denton newspapers, then numbering ten weeklies and owned by William Denton, refused to run the Defender.
Mike Vilegi was a passenger in the truck James McCulley drove down Old Mountain Road in an effort to have the long-abandoned wilderness road reopened to motorized vehicles. Vilegi is a Lake Placid builder who was leader of the “Adirondack Porn Agency” effort to taint the reputations of APA staff and commissioners. According to the Press-Republican, Vilegi once attended an APA meeting “wearing a T-shirt with the words ‘Adirondack Porn Agency’ written across the chest and a less polite phrase written on the back”. Vilegi has a flair for the dramatic; he’s a producer of YouTube videos showing how damaging hikers are.
Howard Aubin is a businessman who found his way to the Big Tupper Resort hearings to proclaim that 100 percent of Tupper Lakers support building the Adirondack Club and Resort, the largest residential development ever proposed in the Adirondacks. In an affidavit in support of the Lewis case, Aubin claimed “There is a general fear among the Bar in the North Country that participation in a dispute against the Agency will harm their practices.” Twenty years ago Aubin helped organize the Adirondack Solidarity Alliance, the folks who brought us the 1990 “freedom drive” which attempted to block Northway traffic between exits 20 and 28.
Bob Schulz, now in his 70s, is the Queensbury founder of We the People Foundation who launched the “Revolution Project” in 2008. Schulz is a longstanding proponent of the idea that Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen. Before that, he was the subject of several federal investigations, including his alleged failure to file Federal income tax returns for years 2001 through 2004. In 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice successfully sued Schulz to stop the sale “of an alleged tax fraud scheme reported to have cost the U.S. Treasury more than 21 million dollars.” Last year the Internal Revenue Service revoked We the People’s tax exempt status.
Trying to force logging of the Forest Preserve, subverting the APA Act for financial gain, blocking traffic, wearing obscene t-shirts to public meetings, promoting the refusal to pay taxes – these are the folks who enjoy standing with the local media.
Meanwhile, 120 private citizens, business, education, and nonprofit leaders, environmentalists, state and local economic development professionals and government leaders, and anti-APA property rights advocates were joining together in Long Lake to try and foster a sense that we’re all in this together. What coverage did that get? None that I can find.
Instead, we’re treated to a malicious anti-APA diatribe by the Glens Falls Post-Star that includes a number of personal attacks on APA staff and commissioners, all civil servants doing their job to help protect the Adirondack Park, a park for all the people of the state.
Unfortunately we need to constantly rehash the wrong-headed arguments expressed by the Post-Star‘s editorial board, even though they’ve been shown time and again to have no basis in fact. They claim, for example, “In its zeal to crack down on every potential encroachment of civilization, real or imagined, the agency has tipped the balance against the interests of individual rights and against economic development.” How any reasonable person can make that claim is beyond me – but they repeat it again and again.
First, the APA regulates about 40% of new buildings and 20% of total development activities. Second, the APA has declined just .8% of the projects that have been brought before it since 1973. And while we’re at it, there is also no basis whatsoever for the argument that the APA somehow coerces people to withdraw their applications – there simply aren’t that many withdrawn applications. There is no need to withdraw an application because the APA approves nearly all of them. This is what the Post-Star calls a “zeal to crack down on every potential encroachment of civilization”.
It is simply ludicrous to continue to argue that an agency that has power over just 20% of development activities and only 40% of new buildings, and has blocked only the tiniest fraction of those, is responsible for “overzealous enforcement of state regulations and an unwavering support of restrictive environmentalist policies over reasonable economic growth and development in the Adirondacks.”
The Post-Star‘s editorial board, which includes Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley, Editorial Page Editor Mark Mahoney and citizen representative Carol Merchant, should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to divide Adirondackers, especially on the same day those of us with an actual stake here were trying to make efforts to come together.
One final issue which really gets to the heart of the Post-Star‘s project to discredit reasonable environmental protections and smart growth planning in the Adirondack Park. The entire tone of their editorial is couched in terms of government openness, yet they don’t expect the same from the Local Government Review Board (LGRB). To my knowledge the paper has never once investigated the LGRB despite the fact that the APA-funded body is headed by Fred Monroe (and its one employee, his wife), who until very recently collected a paycheck from New York State, Warren County, and the Town of Chester (more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded salary).
The LGRB, which frequently meets at private restaurants on the public’s dime, issues no notices that a meeting is being held, no agendas before the meeting, no meeting minutes, and no online audio or video recordings of meetings. I signed up for the LGRB’s e-mail newsletter several years ago, I’m still on the list, but I’ve never received any information from them whatsoever. By the way, the APA does all these things and more.
When was the last time anyone had a say in who is on the LGRB? They are county backroom appointments, not elected, and there is no public discussion whatsoever. At a meeting I attended recently it was not even clear who was on the board and who wasn’t. They have never held a public forum or public hearing that I’m aware of. And despite the LGRB’s budget of over $110,000, it appears they haven’t produced anything in a full year.
It’s time these folks stop constantly disrupting our mutual progress for their own personal gain. As Adirondack Daily Enterprise Publisher Catherine Moore and Managing Editor Peter Crowley wrote this week in an editorial about their community’s recent division over the Adirondack Club and Resort:
“We all love nature and people, and we all want a balance between economic viability and environmental protection. It shouldn’t be shocking that people differ on where the balance point should be. Be realistic and grounded, be respectful, and don’t go looking for enemies – that’s our advice.”
One of the local officials who supported an investigation of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy’s sale of land to the state says he still thinks the state’s land-acquisition policy needs to be reformed–even though the probe found no wrongdoing.
Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, continues to question why the state paid $3.7 million more for the land in 2008 than the Nature Conservancy paid four years earlier. » Continue Reading.
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.
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.
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.
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