Map amendments require give and take

The size and allowable density within Adirondack towns was primarily determined in the early 1970s as part of the creation of the Adirondack Park Agency.

And as town officials look to expand their allowable density and home-rule authority they are required to petition the APA for amendments to the zoning map - often as part of a comprehensive plan process.

But as with so many issues in the park, the give and take between local government and the APA, combined with some ingrained local fear of the agency, often dooms the project.

Dr. Richard Lamb is a professor at SUNY Plattsburgh and acts as liaison between towns seeking map amendments and hamlet expansion and the agency.

"There's a position in the APA Act that allows local towns to submit map amendment requests to the APA to adjust the land-use categories. You have to justify them based on their criteria," Lamb said. "So what we have done here is develop proposals that we felt were approvable and put them in front of the public. As it turns out the public doesn't want any of them, so be it. That's the way it goes."

Over the past several months, the proposed map amendments of three communities have been utterly stalled after intense public outcry against the projects.

In 2006, the town of Minerva petitioned the agency to expand its two hamlets. Town officials said that it would allow for renewed business development and the construction of affordable housing.

Minerva Supervisor Mike McSweeney said the proposal was ultimately shot down in his town.

"I think that it didn't turn out exactly they way the people in town thought it would be," McSweeney said. "What happens is that the APA makes you give up density to gain density. In a lot of cases you are giving up a lot more acreage then you are gaining."

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