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Amendments to the Official Adirondack park Land Use and Development Plan
The “Park Plan Map”, or “Official Map” , divides the private lands in the Park into six “land use areas”: Hamlet, Moderate Intensity Use, Low Intensity Use, Rural Use, Resource Management and Industrial Use. The classification of a particular tract determines the overall density of development allowed and the rules that define whether an Agency permit is required for new land use and development or subdivision. ( see Land Use Area Classifications)
How the Park Plan Map Was Created
In preparing the Official Map as directed by the Legislature in 1971, the Agency first defined the capability of the private lands to accommodate development by looking at physical resources, such as steep slopes and the ability of soil to treat sewage effluent; biological resources, such as deer yards or rare plant communities, and public resources, such as scenic vistas or proximity to State Land. Each type of resource was mapped to show the degree to which it affects development.
The resulting resource capability map was then combined with information about existing development and public facilities, such as community water or sewer, to create a draft Plan Map. During review of the draft, numerous changes were made at the suggestion of local officials. The resulting Plan Map, adopted by the Legislature, has the six “land use areas” mentioned above.
The Plan Map was prepared on a “regional scale” that is, the individual land use areas encompass land of similar character within regionally defined boundaries and are generally larger than typical municipal zoning districts. The boundaries defining these areas are easily identified natural or physical features such as roads, streams, rivers, shorelines, political boundaries, “Great Lot” lines or other recognizable features and standard setbacks of 1/10 or ¼ mile from those features.
Amending the Park Plan Map
Initially based on information available when the Adirondack Park Agency Act was enacted, the Plan Map may be amended as more detailed or updated resource, public service, and other information becomes available.
The Legislature has directed the Agency to make two findings before amending the Map:
- The amendment must reflect the legislative findings and purposes in §801 of the Adirondack Park Agency Act.
- The amendment must be consistent with the Land Use and Development Plan in §§805 and 806 of the Act, including the statutory character description and statement of purposes, policies and objectives for the proposed land use area.
In making these findings, the Legislature directed the Agency to consider existing natural resource, open space, public, economic and other land use factors, and any adopted comprehensive plans pursuant to §272-a of the Town Law or §7-722 of the Village Law as “reflect the relative development amenability and limitations of the land in question.”
The request for the change must be based on the same characteristics that were used in preparing the original plan: resource suitability and availability of public services. Though the classification determines which proposed developments and subdivisions require a permit, a mere desire to change these rules is not a basis for a change in classification. Nor can the Agency consider any proposed subdivision or development when determining a map amendment request. By the same token, the absence of current demand for development is not a basis for denial or approval.
All landowners within and adjoining the proposed map amendment area are notified of an amendment request. Certified mail notice is given to landowners whose land would change classification. Agency action on map amendments must comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), and landowner notice is usually combined with the environmental impact statement procedures for SEQRA.
The Agency decision on a map amendment request follows the Environmental Impact Statement, notices and public hearing. For approval, two-thirds, or eight of the eleven Agency Members must vote in favor of an amendment. However, if the amendment is part of a comprehensive, town-wide evaluation of all of the characteristics that went into the original map, only a majority, or six votes in favor is required. Any comprehensive review of the Plan Map will almost always indicate some areas to be more suitable for development and other areas to be less suitable, as compared to the existing map, based on the more detailed soils, wetlands, and other natural resource information that has become available since 1971. Towns and villages may proposed amendments to greater or less intensity, without permission of the landowners affected.
USING YOUR LOCAL PLAN: COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW AND EVALUATION OF THE PLAN MAP
When a town plans to request that the Official Map be amended throughout its borders pursuant to §805(2)(c)(3) of the Act, there should be consultations with staff at the earliest possible time to discuss the most current available resource information and the important questions that should be addressed in the comprehensive review. The amendment request must reflect the relative development amenability and limitations of all land within the town, and the town must have formally adopted a master plan.
There are instances where presently available general resource information suggests good development sites, but more detailed information would reveal extensive problem areas, such as hardpan soils that require large separation distances between septic and wells. More detailed information may also reveal better development conditions. Agency staff can advise regarding the necessary or appropriate information early in the planning process, before the environmental impact assessment is begun. If local planning assistance funding is available, the town may wish to request funding to contract for soils or other data that would support more detailed analysis.
Timely processing of comprehensive review may require town preparation of all or portions of the Environmental Impact Statement that such an amendment request requires. If contracting for comprehensive plan updates, a town may wish to incorporate these additional services in the plan preparation process. Staff is available to advise on the important subjects to be evaluated in such an effort.
Map Amendemnts Currently Under Review
Town of Westport/Consolidated Mortgages, LLC
Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
Land Use Planning Consultants
List of Land Use Planning Consultants Who Have Practiced In The Adirondacks
(pdf 64kb) revised October 2011
A Guide for Planning Smart Growth and Expansion of Hamlets in the Adirondack Park