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County vows to fight APA regulations

ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County is joining some of its fellow neighbors in taking a stand against some new restrictions on building in the Adirondack Park.

At their Dec. 1 meeting, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in support the Adirondack Counties' efforts to oppose recent Adirondack Park Agency rule changes.

The resolution includes an appropriation of $3,000 to fund possible future litigation against the APA in response to a set of regulatory revisions enacted by the state agency at their Nov. 14 meeting.

Among the added regulations are restrictions on subdividing lots that include wetlands, new limitations on the expansions of structures near shorelines, and the deletion of a provision that limited APA authority over subdividing property across roads and right of ways.

In the resolution, board members expressed concern that the changes represent an attempt to expand agency jurisdiction despite no changes in the law.

The biggest concern is over the new limitations on expansion of structures that don't meet the shoreline setback requirements. Under the new revisions, those structures can still be replaced or rebuilt, but cannot be expanded in any direction without a variance.

The resolution points to a section of APA law, effective since 1973, that allows for expansion, provided that it does not further infract on the setback.

"For 35 years, the Agency has interpreted that section of state law to authorize the expansion of shoreline homes to the side, back, or up," the resolution reads. "Agency regulations in effect since 1979 codified that interpretation."

The board seconded and passed the resolution unanimously.

"In my 20 years as a supervisor, I've never seen the Adirondack Park Agency as out of control as they are right now," said Newcomb supervisor George Canon. "Something needs to be done about this."

According to County Attorney Dan Manning, the legislative bodies in Warren, Washington, and Hamilton counties have already agreed contributed $3,000 each toward the litigation fund, and Herkimer County will soon be making their decision on whether to join the effort. He reminded the board that the counties would have to pursue administrative remedies before filing a suit.

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