Abolish the APA?North Country Public Radio reported on a plan by NY state Senate candidate Tim Merrick. Merrick is a Democrat running for the 45th district seat against incumbent Republican Sen. Betty Little. While she seems like a pleasant enough person, I not a huge fan of Little as a politician. But at least she's never proposed gutting the Adirondack Park Agency.
The APA was created in 1971 to develop long-range land use plans for both public and private lands within the [Adirondack] Park.
The Park is the largest publically protected area in the lower 48 states, greater in size than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Park combined.
According to Article 14 of the state constitution, the Park should be kept forever wild. The APA was created to ensure that any development was closely monitored and was in conformity with constitutional requirements.
The APA has been fairly unpopular among residents within the Park itself. They view it as an Albany-based institution whose sole purpose is to micromanage land use inside the Blue Line.
However, it has achieved its desired effect. The Adirondack Park is unique. With a few exceptions, it has retained its rural character. The local economy is driven by this rural character as it depends greatly on tourists engaging in outdoor activities like hiking, camping and skiing.
However, this is under threat as the understaffed APA is being deluged by applications from developers, such as the controversial massive project in Tupper Lake. As a result, the APA has been criticized for hastily approving applications without giving them thorough review.
Merrick has called for essentially dismantling the APA and devolving its powers to towns within the Park. I hope this proposal is nothing more than a lame attempt for a Democrat to appeal to the very conservative and anti-government residents of the Park.
(Anti-government except in their reliance on taxpayer subsidies)
It's not clear from Merrick's vague proposals how 'Home Rule' could be granted while ensuring that towns and villages within the Park respected the constitution's provisions.
He also suggested [creating an] ombudsman program to help landowners within park with projects which is a perfectly reasonable suggestion.
APA procedures should be streamlined and be made friendlier to ordinary homeowners based in the Park. It should be given more resources to analyze proposals in a timely manner. But the agency should not be dismantled nor should a carte blanche be given to developers who want to raze the trees and mutate the Park into Anyplace, USA.