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Silver Lake developer claims collusion in APA

BLACK BROOK - A developer accused of disturbing wetlands is asking Adirondack Park Agency enforcement actions against him to be thrown out, claiming the agency is working behind the scenes with environmental interest groups.

Leroy Douglas, owner of a resort along the shoreline of Silver Lake, said environmental groups bent on acquiring his land have been working in collusion with the APA to delay his plans for development.

"These people are intentionally trying to cost me money," said Douglas. "They feel that if they can stagnate the sale of my property for four or five years they can break me."

The APA issued Douglas a non-jurisdictional letter for his subdivision of seven lakefront lots in 2006, but began an enforcement file against him for repairing a road near his property that passes through a wetland area.

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. Douglas asked the agency to reconsider, but an April 2008 enforcement meeting denied his request.

Nearly a year and a half later, Douglas and his attorney, Matt Norfolk of the Lake Placid have asked DEC Administrative Law Judge Molly T. McBride to vacate the ruling from that meeting, claiming the APA communicated illegally with private citizens.

Norfolk filed the motion Sept. 28 after reviewing documents he received from APA enforcement program supervisor Paul Van Cott this summer that deal with Douglas's case.

"It appears that [the] APA is acting in concert with private citizens and environmental interest groups, under the color of law, to strategize and plot against Mr. Douglas and his family business for no legitimate purpose and to stop lawful development," wrote Norfolk in the motion.

Included among the documents is a letter from the Adirondack Council to APA Enforcement Committee Chairman Cecil Wray that they say constitutes illegal ex parte communication.

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