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Lewis, APA dispute over legal fees

Wray also pointed to the August 2007 decision of Acting Essex County Supreme Court Justice Kevin K. Ryan, who was first to hear the dispute between the APA and Lewis Family Farm and affirmed the APA's authority to issue a determination.

Assistant Attorney General Loretta Simon, who has represented the APA through this series of cases, filed a similar argument.

"The Agency made a reasonable determination of jurisdiction in a case of first impression, based on its reading of the applicable statutes, its application of undisputed facts, and relying on the decision and order [of Ryan]," she said.

At the very least, said Simon, the amount Lewis is awarded for legal fees should be significantly reduced because of motions filed by his attorneys that were either unnecessary or unsuccessful. Also, she argues Lewis's attorneys were paid for working on his Web site and other duties that did not require the skills of a lawyer.

Altogether, Simon said, Lewis's claim to more than $208,000 in legal fees should be reduced by nearly $88,000 that represent inappropriate charges.

"Finally, any remaining hours should be calculated at the reasonable prevailing rate for Essex County," Simon stated, "not at the $300 per hour rate requested in the application." She argued the prevailing rate should be roughly half that.

Lewis and his attorneys have rebutted, saying additions to the Web site were done by a third party. They also point to testimony and statistics claiming the $300 hourly rate is reasonable.

"I do believe the judge will find in our favor," said Lewis, "and I hope we are correct."

Representatives from the Adirondack Park Agency did not respond to a request for comment.

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