The year was 1771, and the American colonies united in their refusal to pay taxes imposed by an English Parliament in which they had no representation.
It was this taxation without representation that ultimately laid the groundwork for the American Revolution and our independence as a nation.
Flash forward to 1971 and the organization of the Adirondack Park Agency. Here was a tax-subsidized state agency with absolutely no representation from the people they were charged with regulating.
Sound familiar? Call it regulation without representation.
While the APA Act was later adopted requiring five park residents on the Board of Commissioners, the discontent created in 1971 remained.
Today, it may be stronger than ever.
Fueled by recent media reports of arbitrary enforcement, hypocritical acts, infiltration by environmental groups, jurisdictional disputes, proposed regulations on everything from boathouses to hunting cabins and astronomical fines threatened against those who disobey these edicts - many are saying enough is enough.
The APA needs to be dismantled - and I'm not the only one saying so.
The Glens Falls Post-Star made a similar case in a recent thought-provoking editorial, and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward also just joined the campaign.
"People you would never think would have considered it are now talking about it," Sayward told me in a recent phone interview. "The APA has outlived its usefulness."
The original intent of the agency was not a bad one. The concept was to have a group that could provide tools to local governments so land-use planning was done with the environment in mind.
Former chairman of the Adirondack Park Review Board Joe Rota said that without the APA Act, development would have run rampant in the 1970s.
"In 1973, there was no planning or zoning in many Adirondack towns, the safeguards included in the act were needed," he said.
But, the Goliath the APA has become - with its strong-arm tactics and seemingly endless state resources - oversteps its motive.
It may even be self-defeating in its purpose, because of the discontent and trepidation that exists.
"The problem is in their interpretation of the act and then changing it through regulation. The act was only supposed to be modified by the state Legislature," Rota said, noting stringent waterfront regulations the APA has enacted and a proposal to limit boathouse size.
"It's really just a harassment thing, it has nothing to do with protecting the environment," Rota said.
Indeed, with its $6.2 million annual budget and 72 positions, the agency seems to spend more energy chasing conforming landowners, enacting its own rogue regulations and fighting lengthy court battles than championing the environment.
When the agency does decide to act, they take jurisdiction over an entire project instead of simply the portion that triggered the jurisdictional determination, then often force unrealistic standards all their own - standards they seemingly pull from the sky depending on who sits across the table.
Black Brook Councilman Howard Aubin, a long-time outspoken critic of the APA and its tactics, believes the agency arbitrarily picks certain cases to pursue and then makes an example for all to see.
"They try to scare others into complying with their wishes," Aubin said. "All it does is create more contempt and anger."
Take, for example, the recent Lowe's project in Ticonderoga. Although the project was being built in a hamlet with an approved APA land-use plan in place, the APA stepped in and took jurisdiction from town planners because a wetland half the size of a swimming pool existed on the 10-acre parcel and the building was a few feet too high.
Instead of making sure the concerns of that tiny wetland were mitigated, the park crusaders opened the entire project to review, miring it in bureaucratic red tape and adding months to its completion and thousands of dollars in expense.
The finding? Lowe's sign was too big.
Never mind the building is in the middle of the town's business district with a Wal-Mart sign the size of a Greyhound bus next door, the APA said Lowe's should only be allowed a sign smaller than a sheet of plywood.
Common sense? It simply doesn't exist in Raybrook.
And oh, how they hate to lose.
When the enforcement case between the agency and Essex farmer Sandy Lewis was settled last summer in his favor, the lead APA attorney on the case, Paul Van Cott, swapped malicious e-mails with Lewis.
"Mr. Lewis, you are a sociopath," wrote Van Cott. "Please shut up. Go out and get a shovel and work like a real person on your farm. Enjoy life and be a real farmer. You are very fortunate. Realize that and get a life."
"Go farm. Dig a hole, milk a cow. Enjoy the 1,000 acres of farmland on Lake Champlain that you have," he wrote, going on to defend the APA's Nov. 9, 2009 settlement with LeRoy Douglas, the Silver Lake resort owner who recently had his APA enforcement case mysteriously dropped.
"You won your case," Van Cott told Lewis. "We respect the law. Go farm."
Van Cott was later "reassigned" from the agency's enforcement division - but was never formally reprimanded, nor was his pay reduced.
I'm not sure if someone in private business would have been afforded the same luxury.
These examples only scratch the surface of the oppression inflicted by the park agency, stories I have covered as a journalist here for more than two decades.
It is time we the Adirondack people take back our independence - remove the air of impropriety, withdraw the blank check for delivering justice and demand equal enforcement for all.
We do that by disbanding the APA and passing its jurisdiction over private land to local governments. We then allow the state Department of Environmental Conservation to do what it is charged with under the state Constitution - protect the public lands in the Adirondacks.
They are best suited to do so.
And, contrary to the "regulation without representation" thinking that existed in 1971, it is time state lawmakers realize the Adirondack people have both the capability and aptitude to administer environmental regulations, free of the political and environmental bias that exists at the APA.
We, after all, have the most to lose.
The Adirondack Park Agency has, as Teresa Sayward so eloquently put it, outlived its usefulness.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments on this column are welcome at www.denpubs.com.