About the Park
About the Agency
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Land Use Area Classification
The process of determining how the Agency's regulations apply
to development on private lands begins with an examination of how
the land is classified.
What does classification mean?
In the Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan (APLUDP), all private
lands in the Park are classified into six categories, identified by color on
the Park Plan map: hamlet (brown), moderate intensity use (red), low intensity
use (orange), rural use (yellow), resource management (green), and industrial
The classification of a particular area depends on such factors
- existing land use and population growth patterns;
- physical limitations related to soils, slopes and elevations;
- unique features such as gorges and waterfalls;
- biological considerations;
- public considerations
The intended purpose of the classification system is to channel
growth into the areas where it can best be supported and to minimize
the spread of development in areas less suited to sustain such
Private Land Classification Definitions
The following are
the land use area classifications of the
APLUDP, and a general description of
These are the growth and service
centers of the Park where the Agency
encourages development. Intentionally,
the Agency has very limited permit
requirements in hamlet areas. Activities
there requiring an Agency permit are
erecting buildings or structures over 40
feet in height, projects involving more
than 100 lots, sites or units, projects
involving wetlands, airports, watershed
management projects, and certain
expansions of buildings and uses.
Hamlet boundaries usually go well
beyond established settlements
to provide room for future expansion.
MODERATE INTENSITY USE
Most uses are permitted; relatively
concentrated residential development
is most appropriate.
LOW INTENSITY USE
Most uses are permitted; residential
development at a lower intensity than
hamlet or moderate intensity is
Most uses are permitted; residential uses and reduced intensity
development that preserves rural character is
Most development activities in
resource management areas will
require an Agency permit; compatible
uses include residential uses, agriculture,
and forestry. Special care is taken
to protect the natural open space
character of these lands.
This is where industrial uses exist or
have existed, and areas which may be
suitable for future industrial development.
Industrial and commercial uses
are also allowed in other land use area
Overall Intensity Guidelines
The land classifications in the APA Act
are designated to channel development
into areas where it is best supported
and to control the overall density of
development. While very few types of
activities are prohibited by the Act,
some activities are prohibited in
certain land use areas.
By setting limits on the amount of
building—and accompanying roads,
clearing, support services, etc.—the
Act contemplates that the Park will
retain its natural, open space character
while communities in the Park
continue to grow in an environmentally sensitive manner. Overall
guidelines are established by land use
classification. While the intensity
guidelines prescribe average lot sizes
for building, they are not minimum lot
sizes; different minimum lot sizes are
also established by the Act. Only the
lands owned by the project sponsor are
considered when applying intensity
guidelines. Existing or proposed
buildings on neighbors’ land do not
|Land Use Area
Color on Map
Avg. # Principal Bldgs.
(per sq. mile)
Avg. Lot Size (acres)
|Moderate Intensity Use
|Low Intensity Use
For more on Land Use Area Classification, see page 2 of the Citizen's
Guide to Adirondack Park Land Use Regulations (pdf 370kb).
How is my land classified?
To determine the land use area classification for an individual
parcel of land, you should write or call
the Adirondack Park Agency office.
The Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan Map and State
Land Master Plan Map reduced facsimile can be viewed
Local Land Use Programs
The Adirondack Park Agency Act allows any local government within
the Park to develop its own local land use programs which, if approved
by the Agency, may transfer some permitting authority from the Agency
to the local government’s jurisdiction.
Towns with Agency Approved Local Land Use Programs
Essex County: Chesterfield, Newcomb, Westport, Willsboro
Fulton County: Caroga
Hamilton County: Arietta, Indian Lake
St. Lawrence County: Colton
Saratoga County: Day, Edinburg
Warren County: Bolton, Chester, Johnsburg, Lake George, Lake George Village, Hague,
Within these towns, a landowner should always consult the local
code administrator or enforcement officer, in addition to the Adirondack
Park Agency, in those circumstances where the following guidance
and checklists suggest a permit may be required by the Adirondack
Park Agency Act.
Jurisdiction Summary Chart...
Though we don't suggest starting with this chart due to its complexity,
the chart Summary
of Adirondack Park Agency Authority Over Land Use and Development
and Subdivisions covers issues of jurisdiction in the six private
land use area classifications.
State Land Classification Definitions...
In addition to private land, the Adirondack Park also contains
state owned lands. There are seven state
land classifications in
the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.