RAY BROOK - Officials from nine Adirondack counties are preparing to initiate a legal suit against the Adirondack Park Agency after the agency denied the counties' request to halt a proposed policy amendment that would further restrict expansion of structures located on shorelines in the Adirondacks.
In response to the APA's action, the nine counties plan on filing an Article 78 motion with the state Supreme Court seeking judicial review, Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Fred Monroe said Tuesday.
Adirondack Park Agency Spokesman Keith McKeever said Tuesday that the counties filed their original request for reconsideration far too late. Thus the request was immediately denied due to prevailing APA procedures.
But the counties refute this claim, stating that the petition was filed within the mandatory 28 days after the Dec. 12, 2008 meeting, Monroe said.
"I believe our motion to reconsider was filed appropriately and timely," Monroe said. "The plan now is to go to court."
County officials argue that the APA's rule amendments constitute an illegal action, stating that the APA circumvented the legislative process. Meanwhile, the APA argues that the zoning amendments are in line with the original intent of the APA Act and that the process surrounding the amendment's adoption was procedurally correct.
"We believe that the agency missed an opportunity to take a look at its rules and make some changes," Warren County Attorney Paul Dusek said Tuesday.
Another major point of contention involves the cancellation of the January APA monthly meeting, where representatives of the counties had planned to address the agency. County officials believe the meeting was canceled in an attempt to deny them due process.
"The cancellation of the meeting has absolutely nothing to do with the counties' grievances," McKeever said. "We had no action items on the agenda - it was simply a matter of fiscal responsibility."
For his part, Monroe is skeptical.
"I am not aware of any other time when an APA meeting was canceled," he said. "I find it absolutely incredible - we are being denied our right to be heard - our right to due process."
The nine counties involved in the suit are Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Clinton and Herkimer. Other Adirondack municipalities have joined the legal effort. At present, Chestertown, Newcomb and Indian Lake are now involved, with several others considering joining as well, officials said.
"This is a winning law suit," Monroe said. "When the actions of a state agency hurt the people of a town or county, that municipal entity has standing to sue."