PERMIT/ORDER ALLOWING DEVELOPMENT OF MARINAS ON LOWER SARANAC LAKE IN THE ADIRONDACK PARK ANNULLED (THIRD DEPT).
The Third Department, reversing the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Ceresia, determined that the APA misapplied its wetlands regulations in issuing a permit for the development of marinas on Lower Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Park. The permit/order was therefore annulled. The opinion is too detailed and comprehensive to fairly summarize here:
LS Marina’s wetlands permit application required APA to evaluate the freshwater wetland at the Annex location and assign it a value rating between one and four, with one representing the highest value (see 9 NYCRR 578.5). The value rating is arrived at by first determining whether the wetland possesses any one or more of 24 different characteristics, each of which, in turn, has an assigned value of one through four (see 9 NYCRR 578.5 [a]-[x]). These 24 characteristics are grouped under six headings or categories, which APA refers to as “factors.” The wetland’s overall value is to be no lower than the highest value of any of its characteristics (see 9 NYCRR 578.6 [a]). Furthermore, as is relevant here, if the wetland has three or more characteristics with a value of two, which fall under “more than one factor,” this will raise the wetland’s value to one (9 NYCRR 578.6 [c]).
There is no dispute that the wetland at the Annex has three value-two characteristics, and that these three characteristics fall under two separate factors (see 9 NYCRR 578.5 [c], [g], [k]). Nevertheless, APA assigned the wetland an overall value of two rather than one … . … Therefore, APA should have assigned an overall value of one to the Annex wetland and should have analyzed the wetlands permit application accordingly (see 9 NYCRR 578.10 [a] ). Matter of Jorling v Adirondack Park Agency, 2023 NY Slip Op 01118, Third Dept 3-2-23
Practice Point: Here the Adirondack Park Agency misapplied its wetlands regulations with respect to a permit for the development of marinas on Lower Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Park. The permit/order was therefore annulled.
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