RAY BROOK - Tension between the Adirondack Park Agency and local government officials is nothing new.
But now APA Chairman Curt Stiles is taking a proactive approach to dealing with the gripes of local government officials before any one issue ignites yet another rhetorical firestorm.
In a letter to the Adirondack Local Government Review Board and the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, Stiles asked what local officials would like changed if the APA Act is opened for amendment.
"What we really need to do at some point is think about how to do things differently," Stiles said Tuesday. "I get a little frustrated sometimes by getting criticism after the fact or during the process as opposed to having people state very clearly what they think their recommendations should be."
Stiles said that re-engineering the APA Act is not on the horizon. Instead he sees the query as a means of opening a much-needed dialogue between the involved parties. He requested that all suggestions from local officials be submitted to the agency by Oct. 6.
Local Government Review Board Executive Director Fred Monroe saidhe is still soliciting recommendations from the board's membership, but he has a few changes already in mind.
"We should be able to choose our own representatives, or at least nominate them for the Park Agency," Monroe said. Although the APA act defines a five-to-three imbalance of residents to non-residents, the presence of the three state officials tends to favor the interests of Albany and lobbying groups over those of the local residents, he argued.
Monroe said he would also like to see a statute of limitations placed on violation proceedings.
At present, the agency enforcement division can cite property owners for violations that occurred in the 1970s, often long before the individual cited owned the property.
The APA Act calls for the State Land Master Plan to be reopened for revision every five years, but it hasn't been substantively altered since 1987. For Monroe, this is a problem.
The laundry list of potential changes, for local officials, is much longer.
State Sen. Betty Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward have been championing a land-bank system as an alternative to a constitutional amendment every time a municipality needs to encroach on in-park wild forests.
Constitutional amendments often take years to pass the state legislative bodies, and more often than not are defeated by public referendum.
In November, New York voters will vote on a land swap allowing for the construction of a power line system that has already been constructed. If defeated, state officials are unsure what would come of the newly installed lines, which supply reliable energy to Tupper Lake.