About Gwendolyn Craig

Gwen is an award-winning journalist covering environmental policy for the Explorer since January 2020. She also takes photos and videos for the Explorer's magazine and website. She is a current member of the Legislative Correspondents Association of New York. Gwen has worked at various news outlets since 2015. Prior to moving to upstate New York, she worked for a D.C. Metro-area public relations firm, producing digital content for clients including the World Health Organization, the Low Income Investment Fund and Rights and Resources Initiative. She has a master's degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She has bachelor's degrees in English and journalism, with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology, from the University of Connecticut. Gwen is also a part-time figure skating coach. Contact her at (518) 524-2902 or gwen@adirondackexplorer.org. Sign up for Gwen’s newsletter here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Joseph Cotazino says

    People making comments should have the facts of what ACTUALLY happened. There was no actions taken by myself which caused any violation. The APA representatives put the property in violation when they came out at their insistence and set the stakes in the ground themselves after I started the process of filing for the variance needed. Get the facts straight before commenting. This was not a case of me trying to deceive or pull one over on the APA. My reputation for dealing with the compliance of APA rules is outstanding and all of the building inspectors that I have dealt with for several projects in the Adirondack Park will confirm that. This is a case of a state regulatory agency making a mistake and can n ot admit it. They are trying to save face at my expense and it is wrong.

  2. Joy Cotazino says

    The photo does not properly depict the lot. The right boarder is 2′ away from the side deck to the house on the right. There is 55′ lake front, not that small point. So upsetting.

  3. B Mann says

    Sounds like the APA screwed up and is laying it at your doorstep. Their attorney says the don’t do the designs or development, then how did they know where to place the stakes? Were any of them surveyors or We’re they throwing stakes like lawn darts? Screw them keep fighting

  4. Jack says

    So why not remove the deck and replace it with pavers? Its allowed and you can go well beyond the 100SF limit for wood structures. And also never talk the neighbor again.

  5. Eli says

    It sounds like the APA was going to deny a variance. Variances are not giveaways even if you have a solid argument. You really have to prove a hardship. Hardships should be based on the complete inability to build on, or enjoy your property. It doesn’t sound like the Town, or the APA were operating in an arbitrary or capricious manner either. It does sound like the Town didn’t have strong enough review criteria in place to deny your first proposal though it presented safety concerns. This isn’t necessarily a hardship though. It does sound like the APA was trying to go the extra mile in showing you where you could build within all of your setbacks and restrictions which is extremely rare for a review body to do because of the liability they could have to assume. Ultimately if your plans didn’t have the deck attached when it was reviewed and the building permit was approved, it means that your deck was not approved. It really sounds like you have a property with a unique configuration which makes it more difficult, and more of a headache to build what you want within the setbacks and restrictions. Sorry for your frustrations. Digging your heals in in this matter may just cause you more pain and monetary suffering unfortunately. Consider the root cause of all of this to be the uniqueness of your lot. Best of luck…

    • Joseph M Cotazino Jr says

      Just as a matter of clarification, the APA came out to review the lot and move the stakes in response to my phone call to them for assistance with filling out the variance request application. They told me after moving the stakes and approving the new location of the house and deck that “a variance application was not needed any more” so we began construction of the house.
      The building permit application had the house and deck on it and was approved by the Town of Wells. Where the ORIGINAL house and deck was staked out was all within compliance and approved by the APA. They moved it out of compliance and said “build here” just can’t admit it. I am looking for legal advice and help with fighting this whole issue. Any attorneys who can help I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.
      Joe Cotazino

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