Supreme Court upholds APA’s permit amendment decision
for the last undeveloped lot in Upper Saranac subdivision
By Gwendolyn Craig
Seven homeowners in a Franklin County subdivision on Upper Saranac Lake are planning to appeal their unsuccessful lawsuit against the Adirondack Park Agency and two of their new neighbors over development plans for the last vacant building lot.
Suzanne Carrillo Kern, Howard Kern, Jeffrey Haidinger, John Brennan, Jean Brennan, Mary Ann Randall and Christopher Cohan sued the APA and Paul Leinwand and Maria Cicarelli last year. The APA had granted an amendment last summer to the Deerwood Subdivision’s 1980’s permit. The subdivision is in the Town of Santa Clara. The amendment allowed Leinwand and Cicarelli to build a septic system 100 feet back from wetlands, as opposed to the permit’s original 200 feet. Leinwand and Cicarelli’s lot, records show, was supposed to share a common sewage area with the Kerns’ lot. But the Kerns’ lot was developed without consideration for the septic on the vacant lot.
The Kerns and the others stated that they would no longer be allowed to use informal walking trails across the vacant lot and that there would be increased noise, light and environmental impacts. The group’s leading concern is a belief the APA’s permit amendment was less protective of water quality.
The APA defended its decision, saying Leinwand and Cicarelli’s planned septic system would be more protective than the systems available in the 1980’s. The proposed design met or exceeded the APA and state Department of Health’s setbacks and standards.
State Supreme Court Judge Richard Meyer ruled in favor of the APA and Leinwand and Cicarelli on June 29. The court may not substitute its own judgment for the agency responsible in making a determination, Meyer wrote. It must only decide if the agency’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious.” He did not believe the APA violated its own procedures with the septic system permit amendment.
“There is nothing to suggest that the impacts from a failure of the proposed wastewater treatment system would be any greater than would a failure of the existing wastewater treatment systems on the already approved lots of the subdivision,” Meyer wrote.
On July 26, the group of neighbors, represented by Attorney Claudia Braymer, filed a notice of appeal to vacate the permit amendment. Braymer said her clients have no additional comment at this time.
The appeal stated the APA “eviscerated substantial terms and conditions of a prior APA permit intended to protect the fragile wetland ecology of the property.” The appeal accuses the agency of failing to apply proper wetlands criteria, treat the application as a new permit, apply the shoreline restrictions of the permit and consider undue adverse impacts. The complainants charge that the APA lacked a reason to reverse the prior permit.
Dennis Phillips, attorney for Leinwand and Cicarelli, said he was impressed with the court’s decision and surprised at the notice of appeal.
Adding to the fray, several environmental organizations wrote to the APA raising concerns about tree cutting. The group said Leinwand and Cicarelli would “cut out a viewshed from their new home.” The Adirondack Council, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, Protect the Adirondacks and the Upper Saranac Foundation wrote the proposed clearing would be detrimental to the wetlands and shallow shoreline of Upper Saranac Lake. Leinwand and Cicarelli had requested in previous documents improving their view of the lake by taking down trees. The APA had directed them to separately seek agency approval for that.
The environmental organizations asked the APA to consider such a request a “major project” to be taken up by the full APA board for review and consideration.
The APA said on Aug. 15 it had not received such an application from Leinwand and Cicarelli.
Phillips said the organizations’ letter and concerns were “wild speculation and unconstrained hysteria…. intended to be an APA intimidation tactic or just an exercise in uncontrolled bad judgment.”
LeRoy Hogan says
So sad the original neighbors think only they can have homes in this area.
ADK Observer says
These people need a smack of reality, and hopefully they’re gonna get it when they lose the appeal too. At this point they are just embarrassing themselves! Like a bunch of school children fighting over a sandbox. This controversy has been formulated by a very specific group of people and “environmental groups” all with conflicts of interests, agendas, and personal vendettas. They have multiple “projects” going on in the Upper Saranac of similar substance, orchestrated by the same individuals. Unfortunately, Leinwand and Cicarelli are the ones that are the losers in the end because they will soon realize that the insanity is just beginning. The people in this specific area aren’t normal. They’re extremely small minded. Many don’t ever leave the area, so they don’t have any familiarity with the outside world and how people interact. They have an unfounded superiority complex and entitlement not only to the area but to control of other people in the area. And they can’t lose. If they don’t get their way, they’re going to turn to small town justice where they have the connections to undermine this family in other ways, insidiously, and with little oversight. The only way to fight back is to know what you’re dealing with, invest in good security, and don’t put up with any of their shenanigans!
LeRoy Hogan says
According to the following quoted statement, there are people believing it is their right to trespass on others’ land creating increased noise, light and environmental impacts on that private land and not the right of the actual owners of that land. WOW!
“The Kerns and the others stated that they would no longer be allowed to use informal walking trails across the vacant lot and that there would be increased noise, light and environmental impacts.”
a Better septic than those of existing homes…. shared septic but built to not be. Such entitled group of jerks, They can develope and live on their lot, but someone else cannot.
Kern’s cannot trespass as they liked to do on someone elses land. Grow up!!!