Screenshot via YouTube
Adirondack Park Agency Deputy Director of Planning Kathy Regan is pictured at the APA hearing in Ray Brook on Thursday, Jan. 12.
ESSEX — The Adirondack Park Agency has approved the first draft of a plan to change state zoning in 15 sections of the Town of Essex.
After five years of work initiated by the Essex Planning Board, the proposed map amendments would go to public hearing this summer, according to APA staff planner Kathy Regan
Regan presented specifics of pending changes to the APA board last Friday.
The final document encompasses 400 pages of maps, including topography, soils profiles, wetlands and tax parcels along with Essex land-use overlays.
Regan said town planners sought the amendments. It makes land use easier, she said, “when people look at the town zoning map and the APA map and they match.”
APA Commissioner Bill Thomas, former supervisor of Johnsburg, suggested this type of APA map amendment process might become more prevalent.
“We’re going to see a lot more of this in the future,” Thomas said.
Regan said land-use zoning in Essex is generally more restrictive than the underlying APA classification.
But the 15 areas outlined to change encompass a total 5,528 acres.
And four of the areas would move to less restrictive APA classification, with 11 becoming more restrictive, which usually means less density, i.e. less access for development and more acres needed for any subdivision.
FOUR AREAS TO BE LESS RESTRICTIVE USE
Regan discussed briefly each of the four areas of land Essex wants to make less restrictive.
One 5.5-acre area sits at the northern end of Essex Hamlet and is currently zoned Resource Management, she said.
The town wants APA to reclassify that section as Hamlet, in part because it does have water and sewer service.
A 60-acre area that stretches south of Whallons Bay Road is classified Resource Management now and would switch to Rural Use, a zoning classification that allows subdivision on parcels 8.5 acres.
Along Lake Shore Road, another 76 acres currently zoned Resource Management by the APA would be reclassified to low intensity, Regan said.
That section is mostly forested with some residential settlement on the northern and southern ends.
“The area does not have access to public sewer or water,” the APA planner said.
The fourth area proposed to be reclassified with a less restrictive use encompasses 35 acres currently zoned Rural Use.
The property would be reclassified as Low Intensity Use with average subdivision lots allowed at 3.2 acres.
OTHERS MORE RESTRICTIVE
One of the largest parcels being reclassified to a more restrictive use is a 2,599-acre section adjoining the Hamlet of Wadhams.
Currently zoned Rural Use on state maps, Essex planners would like it to become Resource Management with 42.7-acres required for any subdivision.
Regan said Sprig and Finney mountains are on the property along with a sensitive wetland complex adjoing the Boquet River.
Asked by APA commissioners about public input for these changes, Regan said all Essex Town Council and Planning Board meetings are public and that notices were made to landowners on or adjoining the properties.
The changes were studied and planned over four years at the request of the town, Regan said, in an effort make Adirondack Park and town zoning compatible.
APA approved the draft Environmental Impact Statement, which allows the town to bring proposed changes to public hearing.
Regan said the Essex Planning Board is looking to hold the hearing next summer when a large number of the town’s seasonal residents are here.
The meeting would be held in Essex.
There, the APA would accept the public comment, summarize it and review it before approving the state land-use map amendments.
“When the APA takes action to modify its land use categories, it will complete a multi-year process of cooperation and discussion between the town and APA to align their land use categories,” said Essex Planning Board Chairman Jim Van Hoven. “This will make it easier for land owners to gain approval from both organizations for various projects.”