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John Sheehan. Photo: Adirondack Council
John Sheehan. Photo: Adirondack Council

Council pushes for APA law update

The Adirondacks' largest environmental advocacy group is pushing for an overhaul of the rules that have guided development in the Park for 40 years. The Adirondack Council is calling for policy reform that would rehone the mission of the Adirondack Park Agency, and strengthen and clarify key portions of the law the agency works under.

John Sheehan is communications director of the Council, which has offices in Elizabethtown and Albany. He sat down with Martha Foley recently to talk in-depth about the effort and about the evolution of the environmental movement in the park.  Go to full article
Adirondack Council's ties to APA scrutinized
Adirondack Council's ties to APA scrutinized

Critics, lawsuit claim Adirondack Council sways APA decisions unfairly

For years, critics have claimed that a prominent environmental group called the Adirondack Council holds too much sway over decisions made by the Adirondack Park Agency. Nearly half of the public members now sitting on the Park Agency commission are former members of the Council's board of directors. State officials say safeguards are in place, preventing any outside group from influencing the APA's deliberations unfairly. But a lawsuit filed in November claims that Park Agency worked secretly with the Council, targeting a real estate developer in Clinton County. Brian Man has our special report.  Go to full article

Should Adirondack towns benefit from their role as "carbon sinks"?

Using carbon credits to encourage power plants and other polluters to protect forestland is one strategy for limiting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But here in the North Country, some local government leaders and environmental groups think communities should also be compensated for helping preserve forests.

In some Adirondack towns, more than 70% of the land is protected by park rules that ban logging and development. There's a regional carbon trading market, but local governments haven't ever been issued carbon credits they could sell alongside the credits polluters buy and sell.
John Sheehan, with the Adirondack Council, told Brian Mann the forestland idea is gaining more credibility.  Go to full article

Tax ruling could "devastate" Adk, Catskill communities

A state supreme court judge has ordered New York officials to stop paying real estate taxes to municipalities for state-owned land within their borders. If it stands, the ruling could devastate towns, counties, and school districts in the Adirondacks and the Catskills that rely on the state's tax payments. The ruling, issued last month, follows a suit filed against former Governor Governor Pataki by a town supervisor in western New York. The supervisor claimed that some municipalities unfairly received the tax money, or payment in lieu of taxes, while others did not. In his ruling, acting State Supreme Court Justice Timothy Walker agreed with the argument, describing the arrangement as "palpably arbitrary." Brian Mann discussed the landmark ruling with Martha Foley.  Go to full article

Adirondack Council faces questions, controversy over Tupper resort

A public hearing resumes today in Tupper Lake, reviewing plans for the Adirondack Club and Resort. The 700-unit development would be the largest single project in the Park's history. One of the resort's fiercest and most controversial critics is the Adirondack Council, a pro-environment group. Some locals have accused the Council of making inaccurate statements as it fights to block the project. In an editorial published last month, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise accused the environmental organization of being "patronizing...and kind of clueless." Brian Mann sat down recently to discuss the project and the controversy with Council spokesman John Sheehan. Sheehan says he doubts the Big Tupper project will be approved in its current form.  Go to full article
New APA chairman Curt Stiles inspecting Upper Saranac Lake (Source:  USL Foundation)
New APA chairman Curt Stiles inspecting Upper Saranac Lake (Source: USL Foundation)

Key Senate committees approve Stiles for APA chair

Late last night two key state Senate committees voted to confirm Curt Stiles as the new chair of the Adirondack Park Agency. Stiles lives on Upper Saranac Lake and sits on the Adirondack Council board. The Governor also appointed environmental attorney and professor Dick Booth from Ithaca and he reappointed Lake Pleasant town supervisor Frank Mezzano. As Brian Mann reports, the appointments drew mixed reviews from green groups and from local government leaders.  Go to full article
Mapping the Adirondack Park's future
Mapping the Adirondack Park's future

Adks After Pataki, Pt. 2: Beef Up APA?

This week, we're talking with some of the politicians and activists who will shape the Adirondack Park Agency's future after Governor George Pataki leaves office in January.
Over the last year, state Senator Betty Little, a Republican from Queensbury, has called for the APA's power to be curtailed. A few local government leaders say the agency should be abolished. But with Democrat Eliot Spitzer leading the governor's race by a comfortable margin, some pro-environment groups see this as an opportunity to strengthen the APA regulations and enforcement power. Brian Mann spoke with the Adirondack Council's John Sheehan, who says the political vacuum created by Pataki's departure has triggered new tension. (Yesterday, Brian talked with state Senator Betty Little; tomorrow: Ross Whaley, chairman of the APA.)  Go to full article

Town of Horicon Loses ATV Fight

ATV riders suffered another setback this week in the Adirondacks. A state supreme court judge ruled Tuesday that the Warren County town of Horicon can't allow 4-wheeler traffic on roads that pass through the forest preserve. The town had been sued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Brian Mann reports.  Go to full article

"Frankenpine" Tower Suit Thrown Out

A state Supreme Court judge in Saratoga Springs has dismissed an
environmental group's lawsuit over a controversial cell phone tower on Lake George. The so-called "frankenpine" tower will be built to look like a huge pine tree. The Adirondack Council sued to block the plan, arguing that it would mar a scenic vista. But as Brian Mann reports, the case was dismissed on a technicality.  Go to full article

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