Old Mountain Road case gets further review

The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced last month that it will revisit a case involving an old town road the runs between Lake Placid and Keene.

The case involves the Old Mountain Road, which connects the Essex County towns of Keene and North Elba.

Former acting DEC Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz has allowed state attorneys to clarify a two-year-old decision that states the road is owned by the two towns and not part of the Forest Preserve.

In 2009, former DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis dismissed a fine levied against Jim McCulley of Lake Placid.

Several years ago, environmental conservation officers said that McCulley illegally drove his snowmobile and later his pickup truck on the Old Mountain Road, which they argued was part of the Sentinel Range Wilderness and off limits to motorized access.

But Commissioner Grannis disagreed, saying the road was never officially incorporated into the Forest Preserve, opting instead to leave the decision to town officials from Keene and North Elba.

McCulley has since been reimbursed by the state to the tune of $50,000.

Following Grannis's May 2009 ruling, attorneys from DEC and the state Adirondack Park Agency filed motions challenging the notion that Old Mountain Road was, in fact, a town road. Environmental groups, like the Adirondack Council, also took action to challenge the ruling.

Grannis never responded to those filings, but just days before his term as acting commissioner expired, Peter Iwanowicz issued a 12-page decision that allowed DEC, APA, and the Adirondack Council to seek further clarification of the Grannis ruling.

Iwanowicz said the three parties could seek out more information on a number of points, including motorized access and town maintenance of Old Mountain Road.

Matt Norfolk represented Jim McCulley during previous legal proceedings. He says the issues that APA, DEC and others are seeking clarification on are matters of law that have already been decided upon.

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