By Gwendolyn Craig
The state attorney general’s office is seeking a more than $420,000 judgment against a former Hudson River retreat partner, who repeatedly ignored an Adirondack Park Agency consent order.
Court filings indicate Jeffrey Lee “has failed to answer or otherwise respond to the verified complaint” filed in November. State Supreme Court Justice Robert J. Muller signed an order in May directing Lee to pay $396,000 in civil penalties. With interest, Lee owes more than $420,605.86.
The legal action stems from a February 2020 APA enforcement hearing over multiple structures Lee and property owner James John McDonald illegally built in the town of Thurman. The rental property was first called “The Brampton.” It included small cabins, trailers, a “glamping tent,” yoga deck and outhouse built without permits. The two business partners were found in violation of the APA Act and the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System Act. They also built a cesspool too close to a shallow drinking water source, a violation of state Health Department standards.
The enforcement case, some APA board members said, was one of the most significant in recent memory. APA staff detailed at the enforcement hearing their three-year attempt at getting Lee and McDonald to comply with the law. APA counsel noted a number of times the two men ignored APA’s direction. In one instance, APA counsel recounted a time when staff reminded McDonald and Lee of their violations; they responded with a social media advertisement featuring one of their illegal structures with the text, “we can’t stop adding fun places to sleep at Brampton village.”
APA staff had originally requested the enforcement committee fine both partners $1.548 million for more than 1,000 days of being in violation of APA rules and regulations.
Ultimately, the APA fined the two partners $438,000. If they paid 20% by a certain date, the rest would be suspended. The APA also ordered the rental property, which had been featured as a destination in outlets like Outside magazine, to cease operating. McDonald and Lee did not listen to the APA order, however, and APA referred the case to the state attorney general’s office.
Court records show the attorney general’s office settled with McDonald earlier this year. He had satisfied his judgement for the sum of $29,333.33 on Aug. 2. McDonald had rebranded the rental property as “The Anglesey Lodge and Barn.”
Real estate websites indicated that McDonald sold the two properties associated with the retreat—1525 River Road and 1495 River Road—on Aug. 13 and March 13, respectively. A rental website, “Evolve” continued to show the property as available for overnight stays for a nightly average of $1,039 plus a $450 cleaning fee and minimum $229 guest service fee.
The satisfaction of judgment did not preclude the attorney general’s office from pursuing its case against Lee. Lee had been living on the property and managing it at the time of the enforcement hearing. Lee also goes by Jeffrey Salko, Jeffrey Lee Salko and Kang-Shik Lee. Court records filed with the Warren County clerk’s office last month indicate that he still had still not paid any of the judgment issued in May.