The size and allowable density within Adirondack towns was primarily determined in the early 1970s as part of the creation of the Adirondack Park Agency.
And as town officials look to expand their allowable density and home-rule authority they are required to petition the APA for amendments to the zoning map - often as part of a comprehensive plan process.
But as with so many issues in the park, the give and take between local government and the APA, combined with some ingrained local fear of the agency, often dooms the project.
Dr. Richard Lamb is a professor at SUNY Plattsburgh and acts as liaison between towns seeking map amendments and hamlet expansion and the agency.
"There's a position in the APA Act that allows local towns to submit map amendment requests to the APA to adjust the land-use categories. You have to justify them based on their criteria," Lamb said. "So what we have done here is develop proposals that we felt were approvable and put them in front of the public. As it turns out the public doesn't want any of them, so be it. That's the way it goes."
Over the past several months, the proposed map amendments of three communities have been utterly stalled after intense public outcry against the projects.
In 2006, the town of Minerva petitioned the agency to expand its two hamlets. Town officials said that it would allow for renewed business development and the construction of affordable housing.
Minerva Supervisor Mike McSweeney said the proposal was ultimately shot down in his town.
"I think that it didn't turn out exactly they way the people in town thought it would be," McSweeney said. "What happens is that the APA makes you give up density to gain density. In a lot of cases you are giving up a lot more acreage then you are gaining."
After nearly three years in development, the plan was proposed to the town's citizens in March.
The fact that the APA proposal would have downgraded over 3,000 acres to more restrictive density designations, while 1,445 would have been upgraded roused the local public and effectively killed the project.
The lands that would have been downgraded are located well outside of the hamlets, pursuant to the APA's mandated goal of channeling development to hamlet areas while limiting development in the wild forests.
But for property owners located outside of the hamlet, the downgrades effectively represent a devaluation of the land as it reduces the amount of individual lots that it could be subdivided into.
Similar instances where map amendments have stalled after negative local reaction have recently occurred in Inlet and Johnsburg.
Following intense public outcry against the Johnsburg proposal, Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed has spent much of the week distancing himself and the town from the plan.
Johnsburg petitioned for the changes during the administration of former Johnsburg supervisor and current local APA Commissioner Bill Thomas.
Each proposed zoning revision was at the behest of the town.
But for Lamb, the literal give-and-take is simply how the process works and designed around the concept of limiting rural sprawl.
"Instead of just having rural sprawl all over through the mountains, which would result in a highly developed area all over the mountains, the plan was to channel growth into specific hamlet area," Lamb said. "The whole plan was designed to promote growth into the hamlet areas."
The town of Warrensburg is currently in the process of creating a comprehensive plan and hamlet expansion is one of the town's top priorities.
According to Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty, increased restrictions on outlying properties are expected.
"We're going to reach out to them; they aren't going to come to us. We will have to reach out and try to negotiate the best deal for our people," Geraghty said. "What we have to avoid is undue take when we decide to do it."