Zoning changes require give and take with APA

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

And as towns 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 contentious issues in the park, the give and take between local government and the APA, combined with ingrained local fear of the agency, the process of negotiating more development is often doomed.

Dr. Richard Lamb, professor at SUNY Plattsburgh, acts as liaison between the APA and town officials seeking map amendments and hamlet expansion.

Provisions in the APA Act allow towns to request map amendments to change the land-use categories, based on criteria set by Agency policy, he said.

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

"So what we have done here is develop proposals that we felt were approvable and put them in front of the public," he said. "As it turns out, the public doesn't want any of them, so be it. That's the way it goes."

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

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

"I think that it didn't turn out exactly they way the people in town thought it would," 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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