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APA master plans remain rare

CHESTERTOWN - Although the concept has been around for several decades, only 18 of the 92 Adirondack towns currently have master plans which have been approved by the Adirondack Park Agency and adopted into town law.

To this day, local political leaders are split about the merits of a master plan.

"Having a master plan allows a community to take back some of its power which was taken from it when the APA was formed in 1972," said Adirondack Local Government Review Board Executive Director Fred Monroe. "There is often such disdain for the APA that many towns have refused."

Monroe is the supervisor of Chestertown which adopted a master plan in 2005.

Due to the presence of an approved master plan, towns like Chestertown now have jurisdiction to make intra-hamlet zoning decisions on all projects deemed to be Class B by the APA.

A Class B project is typically one which doesn't impact a body of water or any endangered flora or fauna.

However, the engineering and study required to create a master plan is expensive, which is often yet another factor that deters a community from beginning the lengthy process which can last several years.

Monroe estimates that Chestertown spent $100,000 while creating the plan and negotiating with the APA.

In some cases, supervisors have brought the issue before the community only to encounter dissent from the citizenry.

"I brought it up a few years back," said Long Lake Supervisor Gregg Wallace. "The public outcry against it was so loud that we didn't go any further."

Currently, the towns of Indian Lake, Johnsburg, Newcomb and Arietta have adopted master plans. Warrensburg is now in the requisite preliminary planning process.

"It's just so hard to find people to form the necessary planning committee in the small towns - there just isn't enough people," said Minerva Supervisor Mike McSweeney. "I think this is often one of the factors which turns a community off from the idea."

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