RAY BROOK - State Adirondack Park Agency commissioners gave final approval Friday to a deal that will preserve more than 200 hunting and fishing camps in the northern Adirondacks, despite concerns that the project should have been the subject of a public hearing.
In a separate vote Friday, the APA signed off on a proposed subdivision involving 30 residential buildings in the village of Lake Placid.
Both projects had been approved Thursday by the agency's Regulatory Programs Committee.
Heartwood Forestland Fund
The full agency board voted 8-1 to allow the North Carolina-based Heartwood Forestland Fund to retain the remaining 208 camps on 110,000 acres of easement lands formerly owned by Champion International in Franklin, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties. The deal also allows for 12 new camps to be built. In return, a 2,100-acre tract of what is now easement land near the Deer River Flow will be transferred to the state and added to the Forest Preserve.
The camps were supposed to be removed as part of the 1999 Champion land conservation agreement. But in 2006 the state Department of Environmental Conservation began a dialogue with Heartwood Forestland Fund, which had acquired the Champion lands, about modifying the easement deal to allow the camps to remain.
"We are pleased that 5 years after DEC came to us requesting an amendment to the easement, this process is nearing closure," Matt Sampson, Northeast regional director of the Forestland Group, the forest management unit of the Heartwood Forestland Fund, said in a written statement provided to the Enterprise. "The results of this amendment will demonstrate that traditional, regional uses of this ownership can be combined with our fundamental goals of sustained natural resources management and access to these lands for the general public."
APA Commissioner Richard Booth cast the lone dissenting vote, both Thursday and Friday. During Thursday's committee discussion, Booth said he felt there should have been a public hearing on the project, citing a "policy change" that he said is allowing the cabins to remain.
"I still think it should have gone to public hearing," Booth said prior to Friday's vote.
Dan Plumley of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve made the same argument during the meeting's public comment period. He described this as the latest in a list of APA-reviewed projects that the public should have been given a chance to weigh in on.
"You denied the people of New York state a simple public hearing to speak about the future of 110,000 acres of resource management land, where there's been over 140 APA violations, which weren't discussed to any great degree," Plumley said.
Plumley also called the agency's decision premature, noting that the state comptroller's office and state attorney general's office have yet to approve the modified easement agreement.
Agency staff said Thursday they felt there were not significant enough issues to warrant a public hearing. Staff also said any concerns they had would be remedied by the terms of the amended easement deal and the agency's permit conditions.
Sampson told the Enterprise after the meeting that DEC officials now have to sign the amended easement. He said the state's acquisition of the 2,100-acre Deer River Flow tract will occur sometime after that.
In other business Friday, the full agency gave final approval to Rangeview at Lake Placid LLC's application for 21 duplex units and nine multi-family buildings. In total, the 30 buildings will have 85 units, half of which were described as moderately priced work-force housing.
The project, which was first proposed in 2006, would be built on a 23-acre parcel between Old Military and Cascade roads.
The subdivision is located in a hamlet land-use area. The APA had jurisdiction because the property had been previously subdivided, resulting in the creation of more than 100 lots, and because nine of the buildings would be greater than 40 feet in height.
Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or email@example.com.