Locals challenge APA over new restrictions

NORTH CREEK - In an effort to combat what they see as an improper power grab by the Adirondack Park Agency, seven area counties are initiating legal action against the Adirondack Park Agency. The action was announced Dec. 10 by the Adirondack Local Government Review Board, and officials said Monday they expect several other municipalities to join the legal fight in the near future.

Recently, the APA has passed regulatory changes that agency officials claim are merely reinterpretations of preexisting regulations. But local officials argue that the rule changes are far more than reinterpretations, and instead represent new regulations that circumvent the legislative process and are not in line with the original intent of the APA Act.

The rule change of greatest concern to local officials redefines the acceptable limits of expansion of structures on or near shorelines, officials said.

"Historically, the agency has allowed expansion of preexisting shoreline dwellings up, back and to the side," Warren County Attorney Paul Dusek said Thursday. "We believe that these actions are in direct violation of the intent of the APA Act."

Dusek said that the the regulatory changes would dramatically devalue property in the Adirondack Park and devastate municipal tax revenue, as well as curtail the construction industry, causing a loss of jobs.

At present, Warren, Washington, Franklin, Saratoga, Fulton, Essex and Hamilton Counties have jointly filed a petition for reconsideration to the agency, while Herkimer and Clinton Counties currently have pending resolutions which would include them also, according to Fred Monroe, chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors and Executive Director of the Review Board.

If enacted as currently drafted, property owners would be required to seek a variance through the APA before expanding a shoreline structure or updating an associated septic system.

Monroe said he was concerned about pending job losses.

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