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Douglas files suit against Ruder, Adirondack Council

BLACK BROOK - The owner of a lakefront campground on Silver Lake has filed a lawsuit against an environmental advocacy group and its top official, seeking $2.1 million in damages.

LeRoy Douglas and the Douglas Corporation of Silver Lake filed a civil action lawsuit in Essex County Supreme Court Nov. 23, claiming the actions of the Adirondack Council, and specifically the organization's board chairman, Brian Ruder, led to unnecessary Adirondack Park Agency enforcement against him and interfered with plans to sell some of his land.

Douglas now seeks $2.1 million as relief for more than $100,000 in legal fees he's incurred to have the enforcement matter settled and for money he's missed out on by not selling eight lakefront parcels.

In 2006, the APA issued Douglas a non-jurisdictional letter for his subdivision of seven lakefront lots, but began an enforcement file against him for allegedly widening a road on his property that passes through a wetland area.

"I did everything I could in the world to appease the Adirondack Park Agency when this first started," Douglas said.

A hearing on the matter led to a settlement, but the agency decided to re-open enforcement in March 2007, claiming he failed to follow through with his promise to narrow the road.

In late September, Douglas and his attorney, Matt Norfolk of the Lake Placid law firm Briggs & Norfolk, brought forth evidence they said points to illegal collusion between the Adirondack Council and the APA in regards to the case.

Included among the documents was a letter from the Adirondack Council legislative director Scott Lorey to APA Enforcement Committee Chairman Cecil Wray. It specifically refers to Douglas as a developer "most in need of deterrence" and urges the APA to "carefully investigate his developments and take decisive action against all infractions of the APA Act and Freshwater Wetlands Act."

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