Counties to appeal court's decision favoring APA on waterfront construction

WARRENSBURG - Apparently Warren and Hamilton counties will be appealing a recent state Supreme Court decision upholding the Adirondack Park Agency's right to restrict the expansion of previously grandfathered waterfront structures.

Last week, supervisors from the two counties overwhelmingly endorsed the measure to file an appeal arguing that the APA had overstepped its jurisdictional bounds.

As of Dec. 31, the regulations will require the owners of waterfront structures built prior to 1973 to file for an agency variance before undertaking lateral or rearward expansion.

Historically, pre-APA Act structures were exempt from agency oversight.

In his November decision, Supreme Court Justice Robert Muller found that the agency had a fundamental right to re-interpret its own regulations.

The six Adirondack counties and two towns that filed the original suit argued that the measure was a clear violation of home rule authority and would further erode the regional tax base.

According to Warren County Chairman Fred Monroe, the plaintiffs also intend to challenge an associated APA jurisdictional expansion of subdivision oversight on lands that feature wetlands.

Monroe and his peers argue that the agency's policy shift requires the passage of legislation by elected representatives. But the court did not agree. And for Monroe, the appeal boils down to the ability of local governments to challenge the state.

"An appeal would also likely challenge Supreme Court Justice Muller's decision that the counties lack capacity to sue a state administrative agency based upon precedent that counties lack standing to sue the state to challenge legislative acts," Monroe said.

Local officials have long argued that not allowing municipalities to sue the state over legislative actions creates an imbalance, since advocacy groups regularly take such action and are allowed to do so.

APA officials said that the shoreline regulations are a crucial part of protecting the park's many lakes, streams and ponds.

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