McCulley: Grannis should recuse himself

LAKE PLACID - A Lake Placid man who won his battle against the state Department of Environmental Conservation over motorized access to the Old Mountain Road is asking that the department's commissioner recuse himself from administrative proceedings and strike several petitions asking him to reconsider the decision.

Jim McCulley and his attorney, Matthew Norfolk of Lake Placid, filed a motion Tuesday seeking to have DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis removed from all future hearings regarding the May decision in McCulley's favor.

According to a statement issued by Norfolk, Grannis failed to disclose ex parte communication with DEC staff counsel, the Adirondack Park Agency and the Adirondack Council. The motion specifically names Alison Crocker of the DEC, APA Chairman Curt Stiles and Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian Houseal.

McCulley said Commissioner Grannis had an obligation to disclose the letters received by DEC that sought reconsideration of the decision.

"The reason for that is because the APA and the Adirondack Council have both filed for third-party status in my case," he said. "We've found that they have been sending letters to Mr. Grannis that they have not disclosed to me or my attorney and it really is showing an underlying taint of the commissioner's position as the judge because these letters are giving him legal advice, legal opinion, which, quite frankly, in these administrative hearings are not allowed."

In May, Grannis dismissed a ticket issued to McCulley for operating his pick-up truck on the Old Mountain Road, which runs between North Elba and Keene.

McCulley drove on the trail with his snowmobile in 2003 and his pickup truck in 2005 so he could get ticketed and force the issue into court.

State law prohibits the operation of motor vehicles on Forest Preserve land, but there are two exceptions to that rule: Motor vehicles can be used on a road that falls under the jurisdiction of a town highway department and where a legal right of way exists for public use.

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