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LeRoy Douglas takes case to federal court

BLACK BROOK - A man who claims environmental organizations inappropriately influenced the Adirondack Park Agency to take enforcement action against him is bringing his fight to the federal level.

LeRoy Douglas, the owner of more than 3,500 acres of land along Silver Lake, filed a complaint in United States Northern New York District Court March 15, claiming communication between members of the Adirondack Council and Adirondack Park Agency staff shows the two entities acted in an illegal conspiracy against him.

The lawsuit alleges violations of civil rights to privacy and due process, breach of contract, and other claims against the APA, Adirondack Council, and several of their individual members and officials.

There are 13 causes of action listed in the suit, most of which seek $5 million each in reparations. Taken all together, they would amount to $67.1 million.

"In the whole, this is probably more like a $5-7 million lawsuit," said Douglas's attorney, Matt Norfolk of the Lake Placid firm Briggs Norfolk, LLC.

The APA issued Douglas a non-jurisdictional letter for his subdivision of seven lakefront lots in 2006, but later began an enforcement file against him, claiming he widened a road near his property that passes through a wetland area. A hearing on the matter led to a November 2006 settlement requiring Douglas to narrow the road.

According to Douglas, APA staff agreed to extend the deadline for the November 2006 settlement to July 2007 because frozen ground prevented work on the road, but the agency decided to re-open enforcement in March 2007, and in doing so, disregarded the settlement agreement.

Douglas claims that decision came "at the behest of the Environmentalists, part of a conspiracy between the [APA] Defendants and the Environmentalists, and was done in bad faith without any legitimate motive or justification..."

Accuser unnamed

The lawsuit cites a series of e-mails sent to an APA official March 21 and 22, 2007 in which the sender, whose identification is redacted, urges APA enforcement officers to take specific action to re-open enforcement against Douglas and requests copies of any notices sent to him.

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