State seeks dismissal of floatplane access lawsuit

The state of New York is seeking dismissal of a lawsuit which claims current environmental laws and regulations in the Adirondack Park violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lawsuit, filed last summer, challenges state Environmental Conservation Law and Executive Law which bans floatplane and motorized access to certain wilderness areas inside the Blue Line.

The state plans to file a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed. That action comes after the plaintiffs proposed an amendment to the original lawsuit early last month.

In June 2009, Maynard Baker of Warrensburg announced he would sue the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency for allegedly violating laws designed to protect disabled persons by assuring them access to parks and wilderness areas.

Then, in 2010, Baker joined four other men in filing a federal lawsuit with the U.S. Northern District Court in Albany.

The lawsuit came on the heels of a lengthy and contentious debate over floatplane access to Lows Lake. The DEC ultimately adopted regulations phasing out floatplane access by early 2012.

Lake Placid attorney Matt Norfolk is representing Baker in the case.

Norfolk says the lawsuit does not specifically challenge the Lows Lake decision - rather, he says the suit is about "basic civil rights."

According to Norfolk, disallowing floatplane access to Adirondack lakes bars the disabled from enjoying wilderness areas in the same manner as the able-bodied.

The lawsuit remained dormant up until Feb. 4 - that's when Norfolk filed an amendment on behalf of the five plaintiffs.

"Looking at the complaint after I filed it, I had some concerns that I should have attacked the very statutes that created these rules and regulations," Norfolk said. "The statutes allow the state to put these rules in place, and while we take issue with how they are administered and enforced, we also need to take issue with the actual statute."

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