McCulley wins Old Mountain Road case

"The law and the facts, Jim has been saying for seven years now, were on his side and he was right," Norfolk said. "I've got to commend him. For him to stick through this, I'm very happy for him. It's the right decision that came down."

Even environmentalists who oppose motorized access to the road agree that the DEC didn't prove its case against McCulley.

John Sheehan is a spokesman for the Adirondack Council.

"It appears that the commissioner got it right, that DEC had not gone through the proper procedures to close this road officially," he said.

But the battle might not be over yet. Sheehan's group is urging Grannis to take the recommendation of Judge McClymonds and invoke section 212 of state highway law to ban motorized vehicles from the Old Mountain Road and others affected by the decision.

"I think our larger concern here is the fact that there could be a great deal of ecologic damage done if motorized traffic commences in places where town roads had not yet been abandoned and begins affecting wildlife habitat and water quality."

Grannis didn't address that issue in his ruling.

"A decision on invoking 212 is not part of this case," DEC spokesman Yancey Roy said Thursday.

Grannis wrote that its now up to the towns to maintain the road for uses that could include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and the operation of all terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and motor vehicles.

But the commissioner noted that adding motor vehicles to the mix of current uses could present a host of liability issues for the towns.

"And I would accordingly urge the towns to take notice of the potential for incompatible uses," he wrote.

North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi suggested his town and the town of Keene host a joint public hearing to decide what kind of uses to allow on the road.

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