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The iron is hot: Abolish the APA

But, the Goliath the APA has become - with its strong-arm tactics and seemingly endless state resources - oversteps its motive.

It may even be self-defeating in its purpose, because of the discontent and trepidation that exists.

"The problem is in their interpretation of the act and then changing it through regulation. The act was only supposed to be modified by the state Legislature," Rota said, noting stringent waterfront regulations the APA has enacted and a proposal to limit boathouse size.

"It's really just a harassment thing, it has nothing to do with protecting the environment," Rota said.

Indeed, with its $6.2 million annual budget and 72 positions, the agency seems to spend more energy chasing conforming landowners, enacting its own rogue regulations and fighting lengthy court battles than championing the environment.

When the agency does decide to act, they take jurisdiction over an entire project instead of simply the portion that triggered the jurisdictional determination, then often force unrealistic standards all their own - standards they seemingly pull from the sky depending on who sits across the table.

Black Brook Councilman Howard Aubin, a long-time outspoken critic of the APA and its tactics, believes the agency arbitrarily picks certain cases to pursue and then makes an example for all to see.

"They try to scare others into complying with their wishes," Aubin said. "All it does is create more contempt and anger."

Take, for example, the recent Lowe's project in Ticonderoga. Although the project was being built in a hamlet with an approved APA land-use plan in place, the APA stepped in and took jurisdiction from town planners because a wetland half the size of a swimming pool existed on the 10-acre parcel and the building was a few feet too high.

Instead of making sure the concerns of that tiny wetland were mitigated, the park crusaders opened the entire project to review, miring it in bureaucratic red tape and adding months to its completion and thousands of dollars in expense.

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