Protect the Adirondacks and the Sierra Club want to see e-mails between the Adirondack Park Agency and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s staff to determine if the governor’s office improperly influenced the APA’s approval of a massive resort in Tupper Lake.
John Caffry, the attorney for the two environmental groups, said the APA acknowledges that the APA and Executive Chamber exchanged e-mails on the project, but the agency refuses to divulge them.
“There is a school of thought that the governor’s office dictated the APA vote,” Caffry said, though he conceded that he doesn’t know that to be the case.
“Obviously they were very involved in the process; we don’t know what they said yet,” Caffry added.
Protect and the Sierra Club recently filed court papers seeking to force the APA to divulge the e-mails and as well as other communications, including those between the agency and the developer, Preserve Associates. They also want to take sworn depositions from all the people who took part in these communications.
The two green groups filed a lawsuit against the APA and Preserve Associates after the agency’s commissioners voted 11-1 in January to approve the resort. The suit contends that the project violates APA regulations meant to protect privately owned timberlands.
The commissioners were supposed to base their vote on the record of an adjudicatory hearing and not engage in “ex parte” discussions with the APA’s hearing staff, the developers, or other outsiders without the knowledge of all the parties to the hearing. Protect and Sierra contend that the APA violated the ex parte rule.
The groups have asked the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court to allow them to take depositions and force the APA to turn over the e-mails and other communications. The Appellate Division will consider the motion next month.
APA spokesman Keith McKeever could not be reached for comment. However, in the past he has denied that improper ex parte commissions took place.
Click here to read a news release from Protect and the Sierra Club. It includes links to documents filed in the motion.
FULL DISCLOSURE: John Caffry is defending me against landowners who contend I trespassed when I paddled through their property.