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Under attack by the protectors

2010-01-09T22:15:00Z Under attack by the protectorsBy Will Doolittle will@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
January 09, 2010 10:15 pm  • 

BLACK BROOK

For the first year or two, their cabin on the Saranac River, in the northern reaches of the Adirondack Park, was an escape for John and Dawn Maye, a retreat from their house on busy Route 3, a place where they could bring the kids to fish and to swim.

Then in 1988, after their son John died of leukemia at 17, the cabin became their sanctuary, where the quiet of the woods and the passing of the river soothed their grief.

But, after the Adirondack Park Agency began investigating them in the summer of 2004, the cabin became a center of anxiety and pain. Their days there were filled with worries over money and their health.

John became ill. Dawn couldn't sleep.

They were being told they would have to move out of the home they had come to love, and were convinced they would lose it altogether.

They were facing fines they couldn't afford. When they consulted a lawyer, he told them they couldn't afford him, either.

Then, after four years, the enforcement action went away, along with the letters laying out the laws they had broken, along with the $2.9 million in fines, along with their hearing date at the Park Agency to determine their guilt and their punishment.

It all ended with a two-sentence letter dated Aug. 1, 2008, and signed by an Adirondack Park Agency lawyer, Paul Van Cott:

"Thank you for your courtesy and time in allowing me to visit your property last week and to talk with you about the history of your property. Based on that visit and our discussion, this enforcement matter is now formally closed."

After reading it, they felt bewildered.

"How does something so drastic turn around in such a short time?" the Mayes wrote in an Aug. 5, 2008, letter to the Black Brook Town Board.

How could the Park Agency have allowed the case to roll on for four years, then dropped it as if it were a disputed parking ticket?

One explanation is the agency's staff never considered the turmoil they were causing in the Mayes' home.

Another, put forward by the Mayes themselves and by town officials in Black Brook, is that the agency's staff was trying to force the Mayes off their land so an environmental group could buy it. The agency stopped, they say, only when that hidden agenda was exposed.

Officials with the Adirondack Park Agency say the investigation lasted so long because the Mayes refused to cooperate with it.

The questions raised by the Maye case help explain why Adirondackers still view the Park Agency, 37 years after its creation, with fear and mistrust.

The way the case played out explains why John Maye, a retired forest ranger who pauses to think before he speaks, likens the APA to an Adirondack black fly: "Once it smells your breath," he said, "it will never leave you alone until it gets what it wants - your blood."

A history of enmity

Adirondackers have resented what they see as the Park Agency's encroachment on their property rights since the agency's creation in the early 1970s.

The most bitter conflicts have involved differing interpretations of the APA law, such as the recent fight between the agency and Salim "Sandy" Lewis, an organic farmer in Essex, which Lewis won, after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers.

In that case, the agency argued that, although the APA law exempts agricultural uses, housing for farm workers is not an agricultural use.

Adirondack politicians and property owners say the agency has for decades been pushing the boundaries of the law by stretching or narrowing definitions, as it did in the Lewis case. When conflicts arise, the agency usually wins because few people have the resources Lewis had to fight back.

The agency controls the enforcement process from beginning to end, deciding which cases to pursue, investigating, determining whether violations have occurred and deciding on remedies and punishments.

Landowners called before the agency stand little chance, according to Howard Aubin, a Town Board member in Black Brook who has been helping people in disputes with the APA since the 1970s.

"The agency has certain powers to determine the facts," Aubin said. "It's virtually impossible for that agency to lose an enforcement case it goes to prosecute."

Aubin has appeared before the agency probably more often than any other private citizen in the park. He has won some rounds against the APA, but, mostly, he said, what he has done is postpone landowners' inevitable defeat.

"The individual didn't have a chance up there," he said.

APA staffers and commissioners believe they are working for a good cause - to conserve a large and beautiful forest.

Curt Stiles, who lives in Saranac Lake and is chairman of the APA's board, said convincing local people of the agency's good faith is "the toughest battle the Park Agency has."

"I think sometimes common sense does not prevail, on either side," he said.

Stiles is himself one of several current and former Park Agency commissioners who previously worked for the Adirondack Council, an environmental organization based in Elizabethtown, which has been accused of having undue influence with the APA. Two other current APA commissioners previously served with the Adirondack Council.

Stiles resigned as vice chairman of the Adirondack Council's board of directors when he was named chairman of the APA in 2007.

One of the consistent charges against the agency is that its staff shuts out local people but strategizes with groups like the Adirondack Council, even on individual enforcement cases.

The Park Agency does not collude with private environmental groups, Stiles said.

"I'm aware of those kinds of accusations, collusion nonsense," he said. "I find that sort of action incredibly hard to believe."

A hint of collusion

In the summer of 2008, members of the Black Brook Town Board suggested to Stiles that the Park Agency was colluding with a private environmental organization - The Nature Conservancy - in the John and Dawn Maye case.

In a June 24, 2008, letter (see this and other documents on poststar.com), members of the Town Board wrote to Stiles.

The letter mentions that John Maye "is also dealing with his personal fight with cancer."

Maye, who is 68, discovered in 2007 he had prostate cancer. In April 2008, he had his prostate removed and he is now healthy, he said - or, at least, "I ain't dead."

The Town Board letter also mentions The Nature Conservancy, which had earlier offered to buy the Mayes' property, an offer the Mayes rebuffed.

The letter suggests the Park Agency was battering the Mayes with a bogus enforcement case to force them to sell.

"We sincerely hope that the agency is not being used as a tool to force an individual to sell their property to the Nature Conservancy, so that the Nature Conservancy can then sell the property to the state," the letter says.

Howard Aubin said that, at first, he thought the Mayes, like other landowners over the years, would lose their case.

"I told John at first, ‘There's nothing I can do for you. They'll make you pay a fine and remove your home.' "

But The Nature Conservancy connection made Aubin look closer.

"It became quite apparent, there was something going on behind the scenes," he said. "We told them point-blank we weren't going to allow them to use the APA as a bully for hire.

"If you were seeing a bunch of bullies beat up on your neighbors, you'd realize that, sooner or later, they'd come for you. It just infuriated me."

A matter of perspective

Three weeks after the Town Board sent its letter, APA Chairman Stiles responded by driving to Black Brook for a meeting with Supervisor Ricky Nolan and Councilman Howard Aubin. For more than two hours, Aubin and Nolan harangued Stiles about the Maye case.

About 10 days later, Stiles dispatched Park Agency lawyer Paul Van Cott to Black Brook where, accompanied by Aubin, he visited the Mayes' property.

About a week later, on Aug. 1, Van Cott wrote the Mayes the two-sentence letter dropping the case.

"All of a sudden, all my violations went away," John Maye said. He described Van Cott's visit: "He got out of the car, walked around, and said, ‘You have no violations here.'"

Aubin and Nolan believe the agency backed off because they confronted Stiles with the accusation it was colluding with The Nature Conservancy.

John and Dawn Maye believe, if they had been forced to appear that summer before the agency's Enforcement Committee, as scheduled, they would have lost their home.

Stiles says it was the Mayes' own lack of cooperation that caused their four-year ordeal.

When the Mayes were first notified of their "apparent violations," they refused to allow agency staff onto their land for inspections.

If the Mayes had cooperated, Stiles said, the case could have been dropped sooner.

It's difficult to resolve such matters, he said, "if somebody doesn't want to show you something or have an open dialogue."

The local chapter of The Nature Conservancy, in Keene Valley, did put out a feeler at one point about buying the Mayes' land, according to Connie Prickett, a spokeswoman for the organization. But once the Mayes said no, the conservancy lost interest, she said.

The Nature Conservancy has had a good relationship with many Adirondack landowners and municipalities, Prickett said, and no one who works there would want to endanger that.

The conservancy deals only with landowners who want to sell, said Mike Carr, head of the Keene Valley chapter.

"That's completely inaccurate, absolutely false," said Carr, of the suggestions of collusion. "We work with landowners all over the world, all over the park. We would never even consider that."

The material facts

The memo Van Cott prepared for the Mayes' Enforcement Committee hearing calls on the committee to find that violations occurred and to penalize the Mayes appropriately (view document at www.poststar.com).

The memo says that, in 1999, the Mayes built a 784-square-foot house, set back no more than 80 feet from the river, on a spot where no house had been before.

Under APA law, construction in that area would only be allowed if the landowner rebuilt on an existing foundation.

The Mayes had picked up the 700-plus acres, which lie along both sides of the Saranac River, in a land auction that New York State Electric & Gas held in the mid-1980s.

John Maye's bid - $57,000, or less than $80 an acre - was the only one received.

He and Dawn took out a home equity loan to buy the property, which at first they used only for occasional getaways.

"We didn't do a lot with it," John said.

But, after their son died, they started going out more often to the property. Instead of watching the traffic on Route 3, they watched the river.

"This was like our solace," said Dawn Maye. "We came out here to feel better."

John began working on the place, he said, "just to have something to do.'

An old cabin, measuring about 500 square feet (the size of a two-car garage), stood on the land. Maye tore it down, dug out the cellar by hand, and built on the old foundation. He expanded the new cabin to about 750 square feet, but put the extra room on the rear, away from the river, to stay within APA regulations.

Dawn fretted about living farther from the bustle of friends and family.

"I had an awful time moving," she said. "We came out and lived for a year or two before I was willing to move."

But the seclusion "became a good thing," she said.

The quiet was what they needed.

In 1999, John retired after 38 years as a forest ranger with the Department of Environmental Conservation. He and Dawn spent warm afternoons at the cabin with their son, Mark, and his three kids, and their daughter, Mindy, and her four kids.

They rigged a floating dock on barrels, pulled it into the middle of the river and hung a ladder on it. They strung a line from one shore to the other so, standing on the dock, you could pull your way hand over hand across the river.

Then, in June of 2004, Park Agency staff sent the Mayes a letter saying a man paddling the river in a canoe had taken a photo of their cabin and brought it to the agency.

Agency staff were investigating whether any violations of law had taken place and wanted permission to come onto the Mayes' property.

The Mayes had the legal right to say no. And they were afraid of the agency. Even though they had broken no laws, they had heard stories over the years of other landowners who had lost fights with the APA because they ran out of money to defend themselves against a stream of accusations and demands.

The Mayes feared that, by giving APA staffers access to their land, they would give them the opportunity to find things to investigate.

The Mayes responded in writing: "We are aware of the way the APA operates, therefore, APA Agency employees, personnel, representatives and related people of any kind are not welcome on our property."

A safe harbor

Howard Aubin has become, over the past 37 years, the unofficial adviser to Adirondackers fighting the APA. Working for free, he is often the only adviser that people like the Mayes can afford.

Aubin has helped dozens of landowners, written scores of letters to the APA and appeared many times in person before the agency. He has no doubt the Mayes were on the brink of losing their home.

They would have been forced out, he said, by the burden of the fines the agency was threatening - up to $2,000 a day for more than four years, a total of almost $3 million.

Stiles says the agency never actually assesses fines that large.

But, in the Maye case memo, APA lawyer Paul Van Cott recommends that the Mayes' refusal to allow agency staff on their property be held against them in determining their fines.

The memo also urges "firm enforcement of the shoreline restrictions" and says "it appears that Respondents have little regard for the objectives of the Rivers Act to preserve and restore the ‘natural scenic and recreational qualities' of the Saranac River."

That memo, dated March 25, 2008, also includes the following phrase twice: "there are no material facts in dispute in this matter."

About three months later, the APA decided not only were the material facts in dispute, but the agency had them wrong.

Finding an end

What settled the case, according to Chairman Stiles, was Ricky Nolan telling him that a cabin had stood on that site for decades.

Before he was elected town supervisor, Ricky Nolan worked for years as the Black Brook assessor.

"In ‘83, when I first became assessor, I remember seeing the cabin, right where that sits now," he said.

That was all he needed to hear, Stiles said.

But, if the case could have been settled with one phone call to the Black Brook town offices, instead of putting the Mayes through four hard years, why didn't Park Agency staffers try it?

The Park Agency has not explained itself, to the Mayes or anyone else.

"That whole case could have been handled much more delicate," said Ricky Nolan. "You just don't treat people like that."

The case against them was brought, and dropped, "for absolutely no cause," said John Maye - "for wear and tear on two old people's bodies."

The case has embittered the Mayes toward the Park Agency, but has not changed their feelings about the park.

"I'll tell you what, we certainly aren't going to do any harm to it," Dawn said, of their property, "because we love it."

In the Mayes' warm cabin on a cold winter day, the silence is comfortable. The Mayes do not always find it necessary to talk. Through the big windows on the front of the cabin, you see the river - also silent - making its way toward Lake Champlain.

Tomorrow: Read about the struggles with the APA of a Black Brook landowner whose property has been in his family since the 1800s.

Copyright 2016 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(33) Comments

  1. Grumpy
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    Grumpy - January 15, 2010 3:09 pm
    The APA has discredited themselves as an agency whose focus is the environment. The average New Yorker is going to hear APA and think they are those people working to protect the land and water of the park. Really they are a neo-facist regulatory agency determined to violate property owners rights in the name of the environment. Look at the boathouse regs., Decks on boathouses keep people from damaging shoreline soil and vegitation PERIOD. Why are they banning them?...because they can. Why did Hitler take away everyones guns in 1939?...Think about it.
  2. brian
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    brian - January 14, 2010 10:28 am
    http://northcountrypublicradio.org/blogs/ballotbox/2010/01/no-apa-did-not-conspire-illegally-with.html

    NCPR's Brian Mann (who lacks Will's vocal anti-APA positions) did a good investigative blog piece further exploring some of the most serious allegations in this piece.

  3. brian
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    brian - January 13, 2010 5:53 pm
    Will, it boggles my mind that you truly don't see anything wrong with an open and avowed anti-APA person writing a purportedly objective news article about the APA.

    As for examples, it's hard to say. Not having the information you had access to, I only know what you wrote, not what you didn't write or how you interpreted that info. I did like how the property rights defender was described as Clark Kent (heroic Superman). How you stated that Adirondackers, rather than some or many Adirondackers, mistrust the APA, etc.

    I think the well-done second piece (more so than the weak first) raised some serious questions about the APA's methods. I'd like the Agency to have some oversight, perhaps judicial review since Forever Wild's in the state constitution.

    But it's countered by the much touted
  4. howard aubin
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    howard aubin - January 12, 2010 1:37 pm
    The evidence is there. That is why the two cases were dropped. A pattern of behavior can be shown. These were not the first two cases, they are just two cases with a paper trail. People accept press releases from the Adirondack Council and from the APA as eco-gospel and doubt anyone that objects. In these two cases the APA backed down, not because they feared the Town. They got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Only a true believer would not doubt the APA and Council after reading these articles. The abuse is even more evident when one gets to read all of the evidence. I'm a little upset that Will didn't include a picture of Brian Ruder's home on Silver Lake, or the evidence that the Adirondack Council was involved in having Leroy's property listed as a priority parcel for land acquisition by the state. The paper trail is there.
  5. Will Doolittle Staff
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    Will Doolittle - January 12, 2010 11:28 am
    Millhouse,
    The Mayes had the right not to cooperate with the APA investigation. To assume any guilt based on their decision not to allow APA inspectors on their property is wrong. The APA had the obligation to prove whether a violation had occurred. This could have been done easily and quickly, with a single phone call, as the story detailed. It would not have taken four years, but five minutes. That was in the story. As for Douglas, I'm glad the story has raised questions for you and left you wanting more. As for defensiveness, I do defend my professionalism when it is questioned. To leave criticisms like Brian's or yours unanswered would imply that I have no answers, when I do.
  6. Milhouse
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    Milhouse - January 12, 2010 10:37 am
    (part 3) The second article is better. It presents a stronger case that the APA is under undue influence from an outside source. It still doesn't go far enough in my opinion. I think something's there, but the story simply leaves us hanging, wanting more. Why was the name redacted? Does the APA have the right to do so? Why? Why does Norfolk believe it's Ruder? Why do you give so much credence to that theory without any evidence to back it up? Again, you come across as advocating a position without the support to back it up. You may be right, but I think as a responsible journalist you have an obligation to further investigate and back it up. There's a lot of innuendo in your articles which, if backed up, are incredibly damning. I'd like to see your work completed.
  7. Milhouse
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    Milhouse - January 12, 2010 10:31 am
    (part 2) I wouldn't have too much of a problem with that if it were backed up. However, this is a poor example because the Mayes admit they refused to cooperate with the APA's investigation. I don't know about you, but every time I hear that someone refuses to cooperate, I become more suspicious. That doesn't equate to guilt, but it sure explains why the APA staff would continue to press. And, lo and behold, once they got on the property they found no violations and everything was dropped. The article gives much credence to the Mayes' theory that the Nature Conservancy pressured the APA, but there's zero evidence of that. I find that the way your article presented that theory, and essentially embraced it, is entirely unprofessional. (to be continued)

  8. Milhouse
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    Milhouse - January 12, 2010 10:24 am
    Will - Your exceptionally defensive response to Brian betrays you a bit. I think this is pretty clearly advocacy journalism, which, by definition, has an inherent bias.

    For what it's worth, I have a similar bias: I think the APA is ham-handed at best and draconian at worst. I'm just not sure which. I was really looking forward to your articles, thinking they would help with that answer.

    Your first article leaves much to be desired.

    "How could the Park Agency have allowed the case to roll on for four years, then dropped it as if it were a disputed parking ticket? One explanation is the agency's staff never considered the turmoil they were causing in the Mayes' home."

    Wow. There's no attribution here, so presumably this is simply the writer's opinion. And, especially combined with the devastating personal tribulations the Mayes have dealt with, it is prejudicial against the APA.

    (more to come)
  9. lauren
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    lauren - January 12, 2010 7:26 am
    I have plenty to say against the APA, but at this time, more to say about slippery and collusive small town politics.

    Consider what the Adirondacks would look like without an APA, and left to the forces of the almighty dollar. Should
    rte. 87 look like rt. 287 in New Jersey?
  10. Sandy Lewis
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    Sandy Lewis - January 12, 2010 3:34 am
    Brian Ruder
    President - Adirondack Council
    Skylight Partners



    mobile 914-806-2528
    home 518-647-5625
    home 914-722-1387

    work qruder@aol.com

    spouse Ginny

    home 54 Mamaroneck Road, Scarsdale NY 10583

    Silver Lake
  11. Sandy Lewis
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    Sandy Lewis - January 12, 2010 3:21 am
    Will Doolittle's journalism sets the mark. Journalism at Denton Publications is increasingly strong and vital. From APA to the Federal Reserve, treasury, The White House, we need journalism as never before. Our thanks to Mr. Doolittle, to the Post Star, to Dan Alexander, to Valley News. see: http://www.denpubs.com/Articles-c-2010-01-07-67436.113116-sub_UPDATED_Citizens_ask_for_full_disclosure_in_Essex_Co_government_hiring.html
  12. TiSentinel65
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    TiSentinel65 - January 11, 2010 8:31 pm
    Will Doolittle's article hits the nail right on the head.The APA is nothing but an environ"mental" attack dog that wants nothing more than to rid the adirondack park of its native populace. As Long as Curt Styles and His Cronies have thier piece of the pie, second and third homes in the adirondacks. To hell with the rest of the low lifes here. They have twisted the rules, made new ones when they couldn't twist hard enough, or simply break the law the way it was written.I for one say it is time for the APA to join Nelson Rockefeller right where they belong. IN THE GRAVE! We have been good stewards of the land, and we know when we are getting shafted.I refuse to be pushed off of land that my family was for generations born on, lived on, and BURIED on for these elitists . DEATH TO THE APA!
  13. tedsunday
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    tedsunday - January 11, 2010 10:18 am
    The fact that the affidavits against the Mayes. Were given by a Nature Conservancy, board member and his former employee should give you pause.
  14. Candide
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    Candide - January 11, 2010 9:08 am
    Yeah, the Post Star should've asked someone on the APA staff to handle this story. I'm sure the result would've been much more "objective." Certain entities cannot afford to be objective. To do so would be self-defeating to their very existence. And anyone expecting any writer to be able to turn the APA's treatment of the Mayes into a poignant account of the powers of the human spirit should look under "fiction." Even Stephen King would have a tough time with that one.
  15. adkdavid
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    adkdavid - January 11, 2010 12:15 am
    "parwana" you are dead wrong. It is the responsibility of the APA to perform due diligence before harassing people. All the APA had to do is check the county records for that Lot/Block/Section and they would have discovered that (per the former assessors statement) in fact there was an existing foundation.
    All this Ex Post Facto application of the APA's regulations is yet another example of waste - see the articles on the Lewis Farm.
  16. ecolocal
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    ecolocal - January 10, 2010 9:02 pm
    Tryranny has been unleashed in the Adirondack Park, in the form of the APA. The APA is a rougue organization totally unaccountable to the people and the State legislature. They make the laws, and then enforce them, using the police powers of the state. The APA is an unlawful agency set up by the Rockefeller administration. They have not jurisdiction over sovereign free men. Like all government's illegal agencies, we the people must not comply with their mandates, rules and edicts. To comply is to accept slavery. We need to do this en mass. If we do not hang together, then we will surely hag separately! The State of NY is broke. One way to save money immediately is to disband the APA. Write to the Governor and demand the dissolution of this anti-human entity. Chairman Stiles is a scumbag, and should be spit on, ridiculed, and then banished from the Adirondacks forever. The entire APA band at Ray Brook should be tarred and feathered for their crimes against humanity!
  17. boston
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    boston - January 10, 2010 8:45 pm
    Will, you wrote an excellent article, and having been involved with similar issues involving the APA, you're dead on. I had to laugh though in Brians' attempt to make this about the person who wrote the atricle just like you mentioned several times in e-mails to me that you would not accept what I said because of my sources. What goes around, comes around. You did do a great job on this one. I told you you could be a Peter Zenger!!
  18. boston
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    boston - January 10, 2010 8:33 pm
    parwana, the Jews tried that in Nazi Germany, it didn't work. Explain your actions to unelected officials? Good thing they didn't seek a permit to throw tea in Boston Harbor. Truly free people are FREE, not subject to permission. Look up the definition of liberty and see if that't what we really have Sweet land of LIBERTY, to thee I sing and will fight for again maybe next time here and not Nam.
  19. gunner
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    gunner - January 10, 2010 7:51 pm
    I'm so discusted with the god d@# APA. They just need to stop making such dumb laws. I think we the people. That live and enjoy the adrk park, should be left well alone. live@let live
  20. Will Doolittle Staff
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    Will Doolittle - January 10, 2010 7:31 pm
    In your opinion, Brian, that I have opinions about other cases the APA has been involved with, not these cases, that I have expressed disqualifies me from writing about these cases. I disagree. I have both expressed opinions about and written about Adirondack issues many times. You're entitled to your opinion, of course, about these stories. But your implication of bias would carry a lot more weight if you could show a way that the story was unfairly reported, or someone in the story was treated unfairly, or show that I twisted the reporting to fit some agenda or other. Can you show that? I worked on this story for months, interviewing many people, reviewing the written record, obtaining documents. You tell me where it is biased or unfair.
  21. brian
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    brian - January 10, 2010 4:20 pm
    It's disgraceful that the Post-Star would pick Doolittle of all people to write this article. He regularly writes columns blasting the APA and what he calls its micromanagement. I don't begrudge him having strong opinions, many of which I agree with and some of which I don't. But it's entirely inappropriate for him of all people to be assigned to write a supposedly objective article on this topic.
  22. NCC-1701
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    NCC-1701 - January 10, 2010 2:55 pm
    The circumstances and results of this case seem to indicate a collusion and less than arms-length dealings among the APA, the Adirondack Council and the Nature Conservancy!
    The APA is NOT yet accountable enough to the citizens of NYS and the Adirondacks! Either this MUST become a real fact of existence for APA - FULL acountability oir the APA should be aboilished, no ifs, ands or buts!
    As for the Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack COuncil - their agendas are well known; what is less well known is how BOTH these organizations circumvent the law regarding non profit IRS status. These groups often advocate poiltical agendas as well as work closely with certain politically favorable candidates. I believe a full Federal investigation is warranted to ensure that BOTH organizations are within IRS' non-profit rules and requirements regarding political activity! IF in violation the IRS should enforce appropriate action possibly revocation of these groups' non-profit, tax exempt status!
  23. watchingGFs
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    watchingGFs - January 10, 2010 2:26 pm
    The public needs to hear the distinction between preservation and conservation. Casual observers don't understand enough about this debate and assume anyone not trying to shut off the Adirondack park to human encroachment must want to clear cut it.

    If New Yorkers actually gave this matter some thought they would realize they have a gem of an economic resource in the Adirondacks and careful management of this resouce could benefit all concerned.

    As a result, the forest is practically dead because the NYC environmentalists and the UN control the propoganda war and as usual when liberals control things, nothing gets accomplished and we all pay more for less freedom and less security.

    I am however thankful for this the small victory described in this article.
  24. hadenuf
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    hadenuf - January 10, 2010 12:01 pm
    Good luck to them! This is another case of our government getting too big and forgetting about the average man. If this group was formed can it not be unformed? Or like other entities they are too powerful to tangle with?
  25. boston
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    boston - January 10, 2010 11:41 am
    Having personally been involved with the APA and those oppossing it, the overwhelming reality is that the APA is "soft" Nazism. The power to create "law" interprete their law, and enforce their "law" proves no seperation of powers. A persn is guilty until enough money can prove innocence, which seldom happens. The APA's SS are NEVER voted into office. It's all about land control and people control.
    When you see and APA official or someone who believes in this foreign philosophy, look for the Swasika or hammerand sickle arm band. This whole scam is written about by Ret. Lt. Col. Arch Roberts in his expose of regionalism. Time to abolish the APA for Constitutional reasons. I bet, I know, neither party will ever suggest that. Just think of the money that could be saved. Are you folks up north ready for a Red Horse Rebellion again, only this time TOTAL victory?
  26. sstranahan
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    sstranahan - January 10, 2010 11:22 am
    An excellent article,the kind I would like to read more of,a piece of reality,A government agency overpowering the people it was designed to protect!Not caring about the burden they put on these people,they would have driven them off their land for sure for no valid reason except power and greed.Man living in harmony with nature is God's way!The ugly world these people sought to escape was created by those out there who wish to improve their image by making a park without inhabitants.The system as we know it now allows down staters to rule over our private property and destroy the tax base in our towns,while restricting any future growth.
  27. Smith29-2
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    Smith29-2 - January 10, 2010 10:52 am
    The APA needs to go, needs to be disbanded. They have gotten way out of control. There is always DEC if some environmental rules are broken. Time for the APA has come and gone.
  28. parwana
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    parwana - January 10, 2010 10:48 am
    Another clearcut case of peoples fear and ignorance creating a huge problem for themselves when they probably could have resolved the issue with a couple of phone calls and letters. Here is a good lesson to others: if you have done nothing wrong you should make an attempt to resolve a dispute before your inaction makes creates a problem.
  29. brightfuture
    Report Abuse
    brightfuture - January 10, 2010 10:26 am
    The APA should be prosecuted for their "mis-interpretations"
    of the law. For years they have tried to change the rules
    without action of the NYS legislature. A better solution of course would be to eliminate the APA totally and leave all regulations to individual county boards.
  30. Ned Danison
    Report Abuse
    Ned Danison - January 10, 2010 9:53 am
    The 5th amendment says: "No person shall ... be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law..."

    Yet we read in the article that "APA lawyer Paul Van Cott recommends that the Mayes' refusal to allow agency staff on their property be held against them in determining their fines".

    Most disturbing to me is how this case illustrates a general trend away from rule of law toward rule by agency in the US. This began in the late 1930's (think: "New Deal") when Congress began to delegate its powers to bureaucracies both unelected and unlimited by the Constitution.

    We now live under the watchful eye of "alphabet soup" agencies that exercise quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial powers; i.e., agencies allowed to act as judge, jury, and executioner, all in the name of some supposed "protection" or "safety" in the name of a more or less arbitrary "science".
  31. Candide
    Report Abuse
    Candide - January 10, 2010 9:03 am
    Still think you're living a free country ? If you have thugs like APA members living in your midst you might want to think again. That agency should be dissolved immediately and some of its dirtbag members thrown in jail.
    As if this family didn't have personal sorrow and grief to deal with, the APA Brown Shirts made it ten times worse. Disgraceful.
  32. spadecat
    Report Abuse
    spadecat - January 10, 2010 8:11 am
    Yet another example why a smaller government is a better government.

    While the Mayes may have won the battle, the have not won the war. For their very home, no matter how seemingly serene and secluded, will always remain at the caprice of governmental intrusion and bureaucratic tribunal.

    It will only take yet another photograph from some downstate eco-zealot to set the whole rolling again--for it is they--and the governmental minions--who believe they know best the Mayes' use of their private land.

    Your home is next.
  33. patcher
    Report Abuse
    patcher - January 10, 2010 7:17 am
    The APA is out of control and must be stopped. They are slowly driving all the "natives" out. The people have to stand up to their bullying and unite against them in order to preserve our life style.

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