By Gwendolyn Craig
The Adirondack Park Agency has a bustling two-day meeting this week, with plans to vote on a solar project in Ticonderoga, a housing development in North Elba, a zoning map amendment in Lake Luzerne and a new campground area at Hinckley Reservoir.
The APA meeting will be held virtually and begin at 1 p.m. on Thursday. The board will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday. Those wishing to send in public comments to the APA should email them to [email protected]. The meeting agenda and project documents may be viewed at apa.ny.gov/Mailing/2021/04/index.htm.
Here is a breakdown of some of the major projects on the docket, as they are slated to appear before the board.
To listen into the APA meeting go to:
tinyurl.com/AgencyMeetingApr2021Thu or call
Access code: 129 408 4925
Solar in Ti
The APA regulatory committee will vote on Thursday whether to approve a 5-megawatt solar energy facility, proposed for an existing industrial park in Ticonderoga. APA staff are recommending the project be approved, with conditions.
The arrays will be installed at 33 Commerce Drive by the company Pivot Energy, according to the draft permit. The total footprint of the solar arrays will be 28 acres. The power generated from these arrays “will run underground on the project site to four new utility poles and then overhead to the point of interconnection with existing overhead lines operated by National Grid,” the draft permit states. The installation will involve losing about 200 square-feet of wetlands.
The only comment letter the APA received on the project was from the Adirondack Council, which state it “conceptually supports this.” Charlotte Staats, a conservation assistant with the environmental organization, added that wetland impacts should be avoided, but “the development of carefully sited solar projects are an opportunity to bring economic benefits to Adirondack communities and decarbonize our state simultaneously.”
New housing in North Elba
Thursday’s regulatory committee will also vote on a plan for 355 new residences in the town of North Elba, the project involving the redevelopment of the former W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center.
The subdivision will also include a new clubhouse, greenhouses, pool, recreational facilities, maintenance building, parking all hooked up to existing municipal sewer and water infrastructure. APA staff are recommending the board approve the project with conditions.
The APA received one letter of concern about the project from a neighbor on Barn Road, Matt Forman. Forman said he was worried the area roads would not be able to handle the increase in traffic from the new housing development. He is in favor, he said, of developing housing there, but he was not in favor of the scale.
Lake Luzerne map amendment
It isn’t looking likely that the town of Lake Luzerne will be granted its request to downgrade zoning restrictions on about 100 acres near Lake Vanare. APA staff are recommending the board not grant the town’s map amendment request to change the acreage from rural use to moderate intensity use.
The town asked for the change because, leaders said, “it would create a more uniform corridor” and would better fit with the current zoning uses. Town leaders also said it would have an economic benefit.
As the amendment request moved through the APA with hearings and public comment letters, the Adirondack Explorer also learned that a private property owner in the area the town had hoped to change zoning and wanted to put up housing. The APA isn’t supposed to consider specific projects in a map amendment request.
Several neighbors wrote in to the APA both for and against the amendment. Following the collections of information, staff said “we believe the comments about the loss of open space resources and rural character raised valid concerns with the proposal.”
Additionally, the town was given an opportunity to respond to the public’s concerns, but chose not to, APA staff said. Staff also pointed to how the Lake Luzerne’s comprehensive plan adopted in 2010 recommended a trails and open space plan, but the town has never developed one. If the APA were to reclassify the area, staff said, it could lead to a loss of open space.
Overall, the recommendation to the board for this week’s APA meeting is to deny the request, but if the board does that, it does not preclude Lake Luzerne from filing a new request with more information.
The news that this was staff’s recommendation had some environmental advocates relieved. Dave Gibson, managing partner of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, said the lack of town planning “could raise significant environmental and regional planning issues in this portion of Warren County.”
“The town was asking APA to do little more than react, on an ad hoc basis, to much higher potential for development than the resources here can accommodate,” Gibson said, in a news release.
Hinckley Reservoir campground
On Friday the APA state land committee and eventually the full board will vote on whether to change the Hinckley Reservoir Day Use Area to a campground in the town of Russia in the southwestern corner of the park.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is looking to build new multi-use trails, 2.8 miles of new road, 150 campsites, four comfort stations, a trailer dump station, a new pavilion at Prices Point, a hand-carry boat launch and multiple administration buildings. The DEC would also upgrade existing ticket booths, bath houses, comfort stations, and other buildings and infrastructure.
The new campsites will not have utility hookups. Each will have a fireplace or a fire ring, one space for a vehicle and trailer and a picnic table.
The APA is in charge of deciding whether these proposals conform with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, a legal planning document.
The DEC and APA have decided not to build a motorized boat launch on the reservoir, considering some public comments expressed concern about the increase in boat traffic.
“Agency and department staff agree that an assessment of the reservoir’s physical, biological and social carrying capacity is required before the development of a trailered boat launch can be considered as any future amendment to the UMP (unit management plan),” records show.
APA staff are recommending the board approve the new campground proposal.