North Elba to support rail-trail appeal

LAKE PLACID — The town of North Elba will enlist a University of Albany law school professor to, on the town’s behalf, appeal the decision of a Franklin County judge that the state’s plan to build a 34-mile rail trail from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake was “arbitrary and capricious” and failed to follow numerous state laws.

The town council unanimously approved North Elba town attorney Ron Briggs’ recommendation to engage Michael Hutter to “appeal as a friend of the court or as a direct intervenor on behalf of the town of North Elba.

“If there is a legal procedure by which the town can intervene in the case that would be the first choice because now you are full party status,” Briggs said. “So give authority to do that if that’s available.”

Briggs said Hutter’s legal aid would come either at no cost to the town or at a small nominal fixed amount.

“For [Judge Robert Main Jr.] to say it’s ‘arbitrary and capricious,’ — that’s the standard that he said — he’ll be reversed,” Briggs said.

Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, the town read and unanimously passed a resolution of support for an appeal to Main’s rail-trail decision, one that recognized “the important economic, development, tourism and health developments [a rail-trail] will bring to constituents.”

“We urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take any necessary action,” Councilman Bob Miller said.

“What can be said that hasn’t been said in the last five years?” Councilman Derek Doty added after Miller read the resolution.

“They are just delaying progress,” Miller replied. “So I guess, my hope is that the governor takes note and we move forward and appeal this.”

“You’ve got to give credit to the people who were proponents of this for so many years,” Miller later added, “including this board, that it’s just every time you think you are there and you are not, you keep working through it.”

Main’s decision pertained to an Adirondack Rail Preservation Society April 2016 lawsuit that stemmed from a plan to remove 34 miles of train tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake and replace them with a multi-use trail. The plan was hatched by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and state Department of Transportation and approved by the state Adirondack Park Agency

These latest developments in the rail-trail saga come after several years of public hearings, comment periods and reviews by state agencies. In 2016, the APA approved the plan as an amendment for the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor UMP.


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