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Editorial: Agency is no longer needed

Our view: Park agency has grown too big, too powerful
2010-01-13T04:45:00Z Editorial: Agency is no longer needed Glens Falls Post-Star
January 13, 2010 4:45 am

As long as we're all in the mood to get rid of unnecessary and inefficient governments, it's time to talk about the future role of the Adirondack Park Agency - the shadow government micromanaging the lives of 135,000 residents in an area larger than five other states.

As Will Doolittle's recently concluded two-part series on APA abuses demonstrated so clearly with the cases of two Adirondack Park residents, the agency has become more than just a regional planning board established to protect the sensitive Adirondack environment. In its nearly 40 years of existence, it has grown into a government unto itself, subject to political influences, controlling economic development and acting as its own police force to make residents and local government officials cater to its whims through its power to tie up applicants with litigation and impose oppressive fines.

It's the only bureaucracy of its kind in the state, and residents of the Adirondack Park are uniquely subject to its rules.

Its decisions are often as baseless and punitive as they are capricious. Anyone who's dealt with the APA in any sense knows all that already.

Aside from a few persistent objectors standing up for the little guy, the agency pretty much gets away with whatever it wants to do. Even the elected state legislators in the park - the officials the people chose to represent them - agree that the agency has taken its regulatory role too far, that it's become impossible for the average citizen to fight it, and that it must be reined in.

The question that must be asked now in the wake of 40 years of growing dissatisfaction with the agency is whether the APA has outlived its usefulness in its current form, and whether the same functions it performs can now be securely passed on to the local governments.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and the state Department of Health already administer environmental and health regulations throughout the state. That includes protection of land and water resources, even in places with lax local regulations.

Given these long-established regulatory state protections, along with advances in computer technology, communications and planning practices, wouldn't it now be possible for counties and towns within the blue line to administer an established set of planning and environmental regulations on their own - without an extra layer of governmental administration - just as counties and towns do in the 80 percent of the state located outside the Adirondack Park?

Local governments are more familiar with individual circumstances, and have the power to act quickly on enforcement matters. That could result in better enforcement of state regulations and a more fair resolution of disputes.

Even without the APA, you'd still have the environmental groups to protect the interests of the environment. They wouldn't go away. But they'd be taking their issues to local boards on specific local issues, rather than using their political clout to manipulate a single agency for the entire park.

The downstate interests who want to protect their own private playland by forcing out the little guy would still be protected, both by existing regulations and by the sheer nature of the park itself. Most of the land in the park is either owned by the state (about 45 percent) or protected in some other way through wilderness designations, easements and sheer remoteness. That has come about through years of state purchases of land and other protections. But the little guy also would be protected from unreasonable enforcement by dealing with their local governments.

The foundation has been laid for the future of the Adirondack Park, a future of which the APA played no small role. But the agency has grown too big, too powerful, and too oppressive. Whereas its regulatory authority once helped the park, it is now gotten to the point of hurting it.

The APA wouldn't cease to exist. It could continue to function in an advisory capacity, serving as an administrator of records and a resource for local planning agencies - perhaps more in the way it was originally intended to function. But it would be stripped of its governmental enforcement powers in favor of local control and local administration of state and local regulations.

Citizens of the Adirondack Park have lived too long with the APA horror stories, and government officials have for too long wrung their hands as if they were powerless to do anything about it.

But the Legislature created this monster. It may be time for the Legislature to drive the final stake through its heart.

Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley, Editorial Page Editor Mark Mahoney and citizen representative Bill Reynolds.

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(27) Comments

  1. boston
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    boston - January 17, 2010 8:43 pm
    I saw a person holding a "ABOLISH THE APA" sign at the circle in Glens Falls today!!!!! It's time for this generation to finish what the last one didn't. Abolish all forms of domestic fascism by whatever Orwellian name it's given.
  2. nygal02
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    nygal02 - January 16, 2010 11:20 pm
    The APA is DANGEROUS!!! Any agency that can be accuser, judge, and jury has to much power. The Adirondacks are beautiful and the people who live there want to keep it that way. They don't need a trumped up commission of political wannabees telling them how to live their lives. Many of the families within the park have lived there for generations and haven't destroyed the area in all that time. It is time for Albany to dump the APA and start with reasonable regulation of the land. I'm sure the hunting groups and environmentalists can peacefully coexist with the locals, it's just the APA that can't be neighborly.
  3. the hermit
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    the hermit - January 15, 2010 10:24 pm
    The mentality started way back when. Some flat lander comes along buys a house and immediately runs for town office. With the mentality they obviously know more than any 2nd'3rd' or 4th generation locals. Even though they felt so well of the community they bought in. Also the "Adirondacks" is not a city or town. I have a few theories. Builderberg - Seems as though I recall "acid rain" being the biggest harm to the "Adirondacks" (besides flat landers) years ago. The fishing hasn't got any better yet. Big business big money. You never here much about the APA in the media until it has an effect on some "rich second home owners" (the flat landers). Anyone who has lived here for generations north of Lake George know all too well about the APA as these native peoples properties were the first to be "controlled" by these out of town storm troopers in 3 piece suits driving Cadillac’s.
  4. boston
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    boston - January 15, 2010 5:48 pm
    AMEN! sickofbadgovernment!!
    Reform? That would be like asking a politician with diahrea to change brands of underwear. Still have all the crap (and smell) just its consealed in a different package.
  5. sickofbadgovernment
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    sickofbadgovernment - January 15, 2010 11:50 am
    Brian - the forever wild provision only applies to STATE OWNED PROPERTY. Maybe you should read the NY State Constitution.

    It doesn't apply in away way shape or form to private property or property owned by other municipal entities within the park.
  6. truthtruth
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    truthtruth - January 14, 2010 12:18 pm
    "It's the only bureaucracy of its kind in the state, and residents of the Adirondack Park are uniquely subject to its rules." The APA is not the only bureaucracy in the State Look at the Lake George Park Commission. It is the APA's little brother.

    APA 6.5 Million in Tax dollars
    LGPC 1.6 Million in Tax dollars

    APA=The adirondack Council
    LGPC= Fund FOr lake George

    It is time for Reform and consolidation
  7. glensfallscitizen
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    glensfallscitizen - January 14, 2010 10:23 am
    I think "brian" has the most sensible comments. It is true that there are horror stories with the APA...but there are also horror stories with every state and federal agency. It doesn't mean you remove them. Every governmental agency needs reform, including the APA. That is why when the option for a constitutional convention comes up on the ballot for 2020, citizens of NYS should vote yes.
    DONT ABOLISH THE APA. Reform it. Force the agency to work with local governments not against it.
    The Adirondack Park is an environmenally sensitive area, which means you need environmentally knowledgable people regulating the Park, not solely developers or local government boards that can be influenced otherwise.
  8. the woo woo kid
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    the woo woo kid - January 14, 2010 5:19 am
    from what i've seen, people are guilty until proven innocent with the APA. property rights, freedom from malicious prosecution, and innocent until proven guilty are some of the bedrocks of our Constitution. There so many horror stories surrounding the APA. They have the power to ruin innocent people.

    Since they don't have to justify their trumped up charges against people to anyone and prove primia facia be for prosecution it gets way out of hand. Can they be sued for fees and lawyer's costs when they so maliciously abuse people? if so, that would help keep them in check.

    Seems to me, they and their cohorts would likely have gone far enough in some of these cases to expose themselves to criminal prosecution. This is a solution. Lock some of them up for their tyranny and the other rats will behave themselves.
  9. sstranahan
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    sstranahan - January 14, 2010 12:05 am
    APA is nothing short of a giant TAKING ACTION,the taking of landowners rights without just compensation,an illegal act,that constitutes theft!A hostile act that not only robs the residents of there rights,but also gives the governing privlege over us to down state hypocrites who have raped and plundered their own environment for years.Straight out of their concrete jungle in New York City they dictate how to strangle our economy,restrict our rights,and force us off our land!The Post Star has exposed a ruthless bunch of bureaucrats with a well planned out agenda to create a park from our private property where only the most wealthy will be allowed to live!
  10. brian
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    brian - January 13, 2010 11:30 pm
    Well it's not surprising that the editorial reflects the point of view of the article. It's incomprehensible that you could write an editorial for abolishing the APA without even acknowledging in any way, shape or form the Forever Wild provision of the state constitution. One can debate what it means in 2010 or how it should be interpreted, but how can you possibly ignore it?! And I enjoy all the so-called "constitutionalists" commenting above who don't acknowledge this part of the NYS CONSTITUTION.

    Fortunately, Assemblywoman Sayward seems to have a more sensible position than you: that the APA is necessary, but needs reform. Its power to fine and enforce should be subject to some sort of judicial review. It may be the "zoning board" for the Park, but even zoning boards have zoning boards of appeal. We just need to make sure that in preventing the little guy from getting screwed by the APA, we don't open him up to risk of getting screwed by big developers.
  11. brian
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    brian - January 13, 2010 11:24 pm
    Yea "TheRick", it's a horrible up there. No concrete jungles. No soulless strip malls. No oceans of parking lots. No gargantuan housing developments. There's too much nature up the Park. It's too peaceful. We need it to be more like Clifton Park or Wilton. We need the Park to be just like everywhere else.
  12. sickofbadgovernment
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    sickofbadgovernment - January 13, 2010 9:36 pm
    This agency WAS NEVER NEEDED.

    I do disagree with your position that this is the only state agency out of control. Each and every authority and commission eventually goes this way and they are all set up with limited accountibility.

    Although Bruce Young was very vocal in opposition his own organization (LGPC) just did a major land and power grab with their stream setback regulations. What a hypocrite!

    Cut the head off of the snakes - kill their funding and use a budget crisis as the reason. The PostStar also needs to speak out about all of the Land purchases by the Land Conservancy which get resold to the state.
  13. sqfrontier
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    sqfrontier - January 13, 2010 7:26 pm
    Everyone !! should read what Sandy Lewis has to say about the connections, from the beginning, between the APA and the Adirondack Council!! Read his post on the North Country Public Radio Blog "In Box" 3/4ths of the way down the page at this link: [ ].

    Thank you, Sandy, for this important History.

    Let's get the Adirondack Council off the APA board, for a start!
  14. boston
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    boston - January 13, 2010 6:18 pm
    boater1, my information comes from personally meeting and talking to Randy Weaver of Ruby Ridge, meeting and talking with Lt. Col. Bo Gritz, the most decorated Special Forces soldier from the Vietnam "war" who exposed Bush, Armatage, and others, buying drugs in Cambodia. You did know daddy Bush was CIA? Reading and reachering the Gulf of Tonkin "incident" by contacting Mr. Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers fame. The truth was that 58,000 died in Vietnam as a result of LIES, what's new ,and I really don't care which political party the Builerbergs had in power at the time. I have used FOIL to personally request info from Mr. Rubin who at the time was head of the U.S. Treasury Dept. as well as many others. I DO NOT watch Oberman, Beck, CNN. MSNBC, NBC,ABC or ANY newspaper that is either directly owned by Builderberg, CFR, or Trilateral members, and which have said that the CIA and military are imbedded to influience news. I buy the books that whistle blowers write and seek them out.
  15. boston
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    boston - January 13, 2010 5:58 pm
    I wouldn't be surprised to see someone at the Freedom Rally that takes place EVERY Sun at 2pm at the Circle in downtown Glens Falls holding a ABOLISH THE APA sign. Would you believe there was 8 there last week, one of the coldest days of the year?
    If you LOVE America and the Constitution more than your political party or your left -right nonsense stop by. Those folks have been there since last February. They were tea party long before the "left" made it an angry mop or the right turned it into a Republican or conservative thing.
  16. Report Abuse
    - January 13, 2010 5:42 pm
    Can't comment, as I know virtually 0 about the APA or the struggles of those in opposition to it. Certainly, conservation of dwindling resources oughta' be a goal. How it's accomplished is better left to the scientific community and those whose lives are directly impacted. As to your references elsewhere and less recent, (Tingley ... we gotta' take control) I respect but, would dispute w/ facts and data your positions which are the result of your apparent worship of too much misinformation to yield reasonable conclusions. Left a note at your restaurant - and still buying lunch. The Constitution has served well and has been flexible enough to survive from the horse to the jet. It needs to be altered as the eco/political systems existing under it are broken... as are most of "we, the people." Give up the notion that reward comes after death only for those properly servile to our aristocrats who own and control all - including we increasingly challenged wage slaves.
  17. Sandy Lewis
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    Sandy Lewis - January 13, 2010 5:32 pm
    Now, there's an idea.
  18. ADK Troutfisherman
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    ADK Troutfisherman - January 13, 2010 3:00 pm
    Great article. Keep them coming!
    The more information that is made public, the sooner all people will be aware of how dangerous the APA really is. The local people who live in the park really know how oppressive the APA can be.
  19. howard aubin
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    howard aubin - January 13, 2010 1:48 pm
    The APA accuses people of violations. They investigate the violations. They presecute the violations at the APA. They are complaintant, investigator, prosecutor, Judge and jury. They administer the process and create their own regulations to govern that process. What part of that isn't a kangaroo court? At the very least, and I mean the VERY least, all APA cases should be tried in local justice courts instead of at the APA, just as all other zoning bodies have to bring actions in local justice courts to enforce local zoning laws. What they are doing is holding people out there as an example, like a whipping boy, to scare others to comply with their wishes. Not to uncommon as in the way a master used to whip a slave infront of the other slaves to use fear as a weapon. This is unacceptable and should not be allowed to keep going on. It has to stop. It is only causing even more contempt and anger. It no longer serves a purpose.
  20. boston
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    boston - January 13, 2010 12:23 pm
    If our patriot heros were willing to do what they did as a result of a simple tax on tea without their consent, what should we do about such a tyranical, unAmerican, APA?
    ABOLISH THE APA and start a grand jury investigation to show who the players were and are behind its creation and existance. Breaking the oath of office used to be a crime until BOTH parties made it accepted policy. All parties injured by these tyrants to be compensated by the tyrant.
  21. listen2me
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    listen2me - January 13, 2010 11:36 am
    I wish they would do away with the APA, but you know it is not going to happen. The board members have friends in high places that are keeping them on the board. I don't think either one of our reps want to do away with the APA either, so don't look to them for leadership.
  22. sqfrontier
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    sqfrontier - January 13, 2010 11:22 am
    Yes! The anti-citizen attitude at the APA is ingrained in the staff "corporate culture". Half measures won't fix it. This agency needs to be shut down. Clean out the staff and lock the doors behind them. Thank you PostStar for this call to arms!
  23. debbie59
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    debbie59 - January 13, 2010 10:59 am
    The APA has been pushing people around for too long! They interpret regulations without using logic. I recently heard of the APA citing a property owner for not submitting a permit. The property owner had put in a boardwalk to reach the water. APA said they needed a variance as the boardwalk requires a 100' setback from the shore. Hmmm...100' setback from the shore to reach the water......Brilliant!!
  24. jp45
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    jp45 - January 13, 2010 10:29 am
    Thank you Post Star!! Please stay on this story and keep advocating to get rid of this oppressive agency!
  25. Jack Rock
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    Jack Rock - January 13, 2010 9:08 am
    EXACTLY! The APA is the biggest waste of taxpayer dollars in this state. If you think about it, if the state had to eliminate departments, programs, or other agencies throughout the state, there would be some type of negative impact. Getting rid of the APA is all positive. It is even a positive for the people who will lose their job because they will now be available for positions in companies investing in green technology, which we all know is a high demand field.
    Senator Little and Assemblywoman Sayward need to start spearheading this effort to save the park and its people from what has become a rogue agency. There is a direct correlation between the power of the APA and the Park's economic demise. It is ironic that the long term vitality of the Park now depends on the elimination of the agency that was created to make it vibrant.
  26. SchLker
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    SchLker - January 13, 2010 8:11 am
    Hooray! Finally a newspaper willing to take up the cause for the people. GREAT JOB, Post Star. Thank you seems hardly adequate for this outstanding series! Finally someone sees the unconstitutionally of a special layer of unelected government for SOME people but not ALL people. Especially when some priviledged people are and were exempted or treated favorably by the APA. Now, keep going and do away with the UN Biosphere brought in, secretly and covertly, by the Adirondack Council in Elizabethtown before this monster, like the APA, rears ITS ugly head 50 years down the road to devour the people. If folks found it difficult to drive to Ray Brook to deal with a bunch of bureaucrats (at least they're Americans) to put a deck on their camp, how much more fun will it be to fly to The Hague to get permission from a bunch of bureaucrats (NOT Americans)for your deck approval?
  27. Report Abuse
    - January 13, 2010 7:12 am
    So in short we have: APA, EPA, DEC, Adirondack Council, Sierra Club, and I'm sure I've missed half a dozen more tree-hugger associations in the ADK's, yet we wonder why everthing is a disaster up there?


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