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Lewis, APA dispute over legal fees

"This time they picked on a guy who could afford to fight them and he won," Leerkes added.

If Meyer rules in favor of the legal costs being recovered, Leerkes said, it would encourage others who may find themselves in similar situations with the APA but don't have the resources to plead their case.

Lewis said the APA has hounded him because he refused an offer from former agency commissioner Peter S. Paine Jr., to buy 87 acres of the farm's land in Westport for $40,000.

"[Paine] is annoyed because we won't sell a vital section of our farm," said Lewis, adding he's seen a similar pattern with cases involving property owners on Silver Lake. "They have tried more than once, and they do not take no for an answer."

"These guys are power mad," he added. "If they don't get what they want, they use the APA to get it from you; and their agent in all this is the Adirondack Council."

According to Lewis, the APA has overreached its power in other enforcement actions as well.

"On the broadest scale, our case calls into question government's behavior towards residents in the park," said Lewis, noting other efforts to expose over-enforcement by the APA. "This procedure is a huge part of that effort."

The $208,000 in legal fees is greater than the combined awards for similar motions last year in New York State. As such, the State Attorney General's office is not letting it go without a fight.

Cecil Wray, who chairs the APA Enforcement Committee, filed an affidavit claiming the state was indeed "substantially justified" in its actions. He said the APA has issued permits for farmworker housing in the past and had "never before encountered the claim... that all farmworker housing is exempt from permitting requirements under the APA Act and Rivers Act."

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